Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Two Films by and about Native Americans

A  sort of mini-film festival this week, starting with the heavy stuff -- two films made by and about Native Americans.  Both showed some lack of finesse, especially the acting in Georgina Lightening's Older than America.  But it and Skins by Chris Eyre were deeply affecting, honest movies, written, directed, acted by Native Americans.

Older than America had the more complex story.  It was set in Wisconsin, and dealt largely with the schools to which Indian children were consigned early in the 20th century.  It was made from Georgina Lightening's novel of the same name and had the plot complexity of a novel. [Also directed by her with herself in a lead    role.] It included ghosts, a complex back story and a complex current day story.  Although the ghost elements rev-ed up  the story it reflected very honestly the horrors to which Native American children, and their families were subjected when forced into special schools -- I've read about this in both fiction and nonfiction.

 Chris Ayres,  Skins, was set on the derelict, shamefully neglected Pine  Ridge Reservation in South Dakota and was a cleaner, simpler story of an Indian cop and his end stage alcoholic brother and their families. It was direct, extremely moving and dealt straight forwardly with the conditions at Pine Ridge (which should make every American citizen deeply ashamed -- we talk about billions to clean up after Hurricane Sandy and do nothing year after year after year to help the Native people a Pine Ridge] The acting was more professional, the punch to the gut deeply painful. But it levened it's sadness with the gallows type humor that is typical of down and out but  clinging to dignity people.

Discussions after these two movies were well meaning and displayed considerable ignorance on the part of 50 or so intelligent, concerned senior citizens.  I have just read a quote and do not remember the author -- "a citizen is responsible for what he knows .... and for what he doesn't know." The citizens of America have a willful blind spot about what has been and is being done to Native Americans.  It makes my heart hurt.

3 comments:

FOLKWAYS NOTEBOOK said...

June -- I would like to view these movies. Finding such subjects in my area is rather difficult. I am not on Netflex anymore. I'll keep my eyes and ears open and maybe I will eventually find them. I have always had an interest in native culture on the natural level as well as their art and spiritual levels -- all being different as one travels to different areas. I just finished reading a good book -- Where the Lightning Strikes by Peter Nabokov. I highly recommend it if you are interested in both their culture and what has been done to them financially by our government and corporations. Deplorable! Like how you write your reviews. -- barbara

June Calender said...

Thanks, Barbara, I'll keep that book on my must-find list. I'm filled with despair when I think of the subject.

Each of these movies have several sites you can Google, in some cases I think you can purchase the film and some library systems will get films for you. Many I see in my documentary film class here were borrowed from the local library system. Sometimes it took a few weeks to get a specific one.

zippiknits said...

I recognize all the actors except the white guy. :) I'll read the book and watch these, thank you for a great review.

Chris Eyre really makes wonderful films.

And yes, Pine Ridge is shamefully neglected as are most of the Northern Rez's. BIA really sucks. They don't, or didn't-maybe things have improved?- keep a good account of royalty money at all, even in the south.