Category Archives: Films

Diné Flmmaker and Actors Worked Together on a ‘Spec Commercial’

“A spec is a ‘made-up’ commercial that filmmakers use to showcase their talent and potential. That is exactly what Diné filmmaker Christopher Nataanii Cegielski did when he created his New Balance spec called ‘For Any Run.’ A. Chavez, ICT

Colleen Biakeddy, who played the grandma, Cegielski and Micah Chee who portrays the grandson.

Excerpt: Behind the scenes: ‘Grandma! Sheep is running away’ Allyah Chavez, ICT

“The video is a product of the Commercial Directors Diversity Program, an organization that provides guidance, exposure and tools for minority directors who hope to work in the industry. Cegielski, 28, was selected out of more than 300 applicants to participate as a fellow of the program, the first Indigenous filmmaker. So over the course of six months, he attended workshops, shadowed industry employees and created mentorships. His final project: ‘For Any Run.’

For Cegielski, the story began with an idea of a Diné grandmother who chased her sheep and did flips. He worked for three months researching brands, writing scripts, putting together pitch decks, choosing a cast and even budgeting. In total, his one-minute commercial cost approximately $16,000.

In the initial phases the commercial advertised an ASICS shoe instead of New Balance. After further research, Cegielski observed that the tone of the ASICS brand was geared towards ‘serious’ athletes. He saw that New Balance had a more “playful” tone — and that it fit in line with his light-hearted and fun vision.

‘I had to think about everything the right way,’ Cegielski said. With this in mind, he says his goal was to create something that Indian Country could watch.

The commercial was shot in mid-August in Pinion, Arizona, where a large crew made up of actors, producers, directors and cameramen worked together. Photo by A. Banks.

‘For far too long there has been non-Native people making Native material,’ Cegielski said. “It’s always about oppression… I just wanted to change that.’

The commercial led him to meeting Diné actors Colleen Biakeddy, who played the grandma, and Micah Chee who portrays the grandson. In true Diné fashion, the trio discovered they all belong to the Ta’chii’nii, or Red Running Into Waterclan, after they met in person. The commercial was shot in mid-August over two days.

This was Biakeddy’s first acting role. But the fifty-year-old is not new to sheep herding. Her day starts with checking on her cattle near Big Mountain in Arizona, some 53 miles south of Kayenta…The role for her was important because of how it represents Diné grandmothers. She appreciated the attention to detail, noting that grandmothers in her community ‘really do’ cover their feet using tennis shoes, or whatever it takes to get work done…In case you wondered, Biakeddy did not do her own stunts (though she notes she had to do a somersault in her casting audition).

Her stunt double was Conrad Weitzel, a parkour athlete from Phoenix…The spec has now been seen throughout Indian Country, largely motivated by social media. The video on Instagram alone has been viewed more than 10,000 times since last Friday.”

Category: Culture, Films, Navajo

The New Venom Movie Review by Vincent Schilling, ICT

“This week I want to discuss the new Venom movie trailer that has JUST come out much to my delight. The film stars Tom Hardy as the investigative journalist Eddie Brock. Hardy is a great actor known for such films as Dunkirk, The Revenant, Mad Max: Fury Road and The Dark Knight Rises.” V. Schilling, ICT

They are Venom — and they’re 50 shades of scary.

Excerpt: About Venom, By Vincent Schilling, ICT

Venom, technically-speaking, is an alien symbiote aka a parasite of sorts that embeds itself into its human host and feeds off of their emotions. They not only grab onto your neurological system and can control body function, but also can embed themselves into your thought processes, thus they can communicate through your thoughts with telepathy.

Venom originally came to existence in The Amazing Spider-Man #252 (May 1984) – though Venom at that time was a bit abstract. Spider-Man’s costume was revealed to be an alien. Venom’s full first appearance was in The Amazing Spider-Man #300 (May 1988)…The Venom movie takes place in the Sony Marvel Comics Universe, so no Spider-Man. Venom has even lost the spider emblem on his chest. During the trailer, there are a lot of patients held and subjected to connecting with symbiotes of different colors, they make up Riot, Scream, Phage and Toxin. All with different enhanced abilities.

Image- ICT

One of the symbiotes unmentioned in the trailer is Carnage. He is a hugely popular super villain in the Marvel world. Carnage is a symbiote that merges with a serial killer Cletus Kasady. When researching the iMDB page, Woody Harrelson is listed in the movie in one of the tops spots, but his character name is not revealed.

Rumors are hinted at in some places online, but I am making the prediction that the Oscar winner is going to play Cletus Kasady, thus becoming Carnage, a blood-like symbiote that bonds with Kasady, embodying his serial killer spirit.

In as much as the symbiotes infect their hosts, the symbiote becomes part of the person, thus Carnage becomes the deadliest of supervillains. We will see.”

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Film “Road of Iniquity”: A World Of Native Gangsters

“First Nations filmmaker Mark Ennis (Maliseet Algonquian and a member of the Tobique First Nation in New Brunswick, Canada) can now add ‘internationally-recognized’ to his resume as the Cine Las Americas film festival based in Austin, Texas will be showcasing his film, ‘Road of Iniquity’…Road of Iniquity tells the story of a young man who returns home after being released from prison. He struggles to gain a sense of normal life after prison, and gets caught in the middle of a conflict between two First Nations organized crime factions operating a lucrative drug trade through the U.S./Canadian border.” V. Schilling, ICTMN

Poster for film Road of Iniquity

Excerpt: Road of Iniquity, Highlights A Gritty World of Native Gangsters-Vicent Schilling, ICTMN

“Filmmaker Mark Ennis told ICMN in an email, Road of Iniquity is a film devoid of the persistent stereotypes of spirituality and stoicism that often plague Native characters represented in scripted entertainment.

Road of Iniquity. Characters Edward and Gabe.Courtesy Maliseet Fury Pictures and Kistikan Pictures.

‘My intent was to tell a story in a modern way, to offer a world where the Native characters are real people with the same universal wants, needs and desires as anyone else.’

Scene from Road Of Iniquity.

‘Native people have been consistently essentialized as the ‘Other,’ which has given way to the continuing portrayal of Natives as mysterious, stoic beings—portrayals that scream of rote, one-note representations.’

Justin Rain and Linsay Willier in scene from Road of Iniquity. twitter

The film features Native actors Justin Rain, Linsay Willier, Michael Lawrenchuk and Justin Courchene, and a song by A Tribe Called Red – ‘Burn Your Village to the Ground,’ as well as songs by Indigenous artists Leonard Sumner and Billy Joe Green.”

Category: Films

“Native Nerd Movie Review: Black Panther Slashes at Colonialism”

“Truth be told, I ordered tickets to see the “fan night movie premiere” over a month in advance to be sure I could see Marvel’s Black Panther in all its IMAX 3D glory…As the all-too familiar Marvel Comics Studio graphics began to play on the screen and I adjusted my 3D glasses in the dimming theater. I was surprised by something I didn’t expect. The theater was completely silent. No food wrappers crinkling, no idle chatter, nothing, I was…like so many others, completely mesmerized by Ryan Coogler’s take on a superhero based in Africa.” V. Schilling, ICTMN

Chadwick Boseman stars in Black Panther.

Excerpt: Native Nerd Movie Review: Black Panther Slashes at Colonialism Using More than Vibranium, Vincent Schilling, ICTMN

“For so many of my childhood years, I have been force-fed the history ‘That any civilization of color was the less than superior race of people.’ I have been taught that the colonizers were the ones that brought knowledge, technology, weaponry and skill-sets to bring other ‘inferior races of color’ into the modern age. I have always been taught: brown skin means you are inferior.

The greatest warriors of Wakanda, the Dora Milaje also known as the ‘adored ones’ are a team of women who serve as the personal bodyguards of the Black Panther.

 

I have brown skin as a Mohawk man. I grew up in the streets of Compton, feeling inferior, just as so many of my friends did. I never dreamed there would someday be a movie, where a black hero could be something ‘superior.’I wept as the movie started. Many of my brown friends never made it out of the streets.

Academy Award winner Forest Whitaker plays Zuri, an elder statesman in Wakanda. Black Panther Movie.

This movie undid so much of that damage in my childhood mind, I literally wept with relief that: Yes, world, people with brown skin can be intelligent, people with brown skin can be scientists, they can be strong women warriors, brown people can excel more than colonizers have done in history.

There was a lot about Black Panther that a comic aficionado like myself could expect. (Prince T’Challa is bound to become king, that much is already known as per previous incarnations of Marvel movies as seen before this one.) But Prince T’Challa’s process of becoming King  is where the magic happens.

Scene from film Black Panther.

Let it be said, I do NOT speak for all Native American people, and I have coined the term “Native Nerd Review” because I was a skinny Native kid that love all nerdy things like science, comics, magic tricks, practical jokes and more. As a self-proclaimed Native Nerd, I’d like to think there are more Native nerds out there like me who get a kick out of Marvel and DC superhero movies, Zombies and so much more out there in this world so rich with geekdom…the fictional world of the Black Panther is a beautiful one.

Black Panther’s Lupita Nyong’o (L) and Dania Gurira (R) prove power of the Dora Milaje

I was thrilled to see such a lack of stereotype among so many different tribes…Ryan Coogler introduces different tribes of Africa. He shows that each tribe has separate belief systems, cultural perspectives, types of dress and regalia and ways of life. All of this is compared and contrasted to the urban ways of America, a powerful sentiment that resonates throughout the film.

Scene from Black Panthercinemabunpodcast.com

The costuming of the world of Wakanda is nothing less than pure genius, I marveled (Pun-intended) at the flawless wardrobe, the female warriors and the intricacies of tradition infused with the most modern of technologies. ..The movie was an absolute blast. I enjoyed every slash of vibranium claws by the Black Panther and screamed with excitement with the overtaking of the bad guys. I also screamed with excitement when one character uses the word ‘colonizer’ as an insult…As I left the movie behind, I did go through a bit of a grieving process as a Native American man.

I am all too familiar with the term ‘colonizer.’ I am all too familiar with being called (first-hand) an inferior race, even though indigenous peoples invented such things as watertight wetsuits, syringes from quills and animal bladders, medicines and more. I grieved because Native Americans don’t yet have a superhero as completely fantastic as the Black Panther. He has a suit that is impenetrable, and has claws with the strongest metal in the world, vibranium.

The beautiful Lupita Nyong’o at the Los Angeles world premiere of the Black Panther . Photo- Vanity Fair

Danai Gurira wowed in a black and pink Viktor & Rolf dress at the Los Angeles world premiere of Marvel’s Black Panther.wstale.com

I have hope that one day we will have a Native superhero without an eagle or wolf friend standing at his side, one that doesn’t have super tracking abilities or anything else related to the elements…If the Black Panther is overlooked by the Oscars this year, I am going to give the biggest SMH the social media world has ever seen.

I enjoyed every single solitary moment of this spectacular film! It is a MUST SEE!

Category: Films

Native Film Celebrates Success!

“The film “Neither Wolf Nor Dog’ celebrates most successful self-distributed feature film of 2017 including the longest theatrical run in U.S.” V. Schilling, ICMN

Courtesy InYo Entertainment Dave Bald Eagle, Christopher Sweeney, and Richard Ray Whitman on the road in ‘Neither Wolf Nor Dog.’

Excerpt: Native Feature Film: Neither Wolf Nor Dog Celebrates Record Breaking Year for 2017 By Vincent Schilling, ICMN

“The main boasting point for Neither Wolf Nor Dog is that the film is an independent audience-financed and self-distributed release. The film was launched in small towns and went on to outperform Hollywood blockbusters in numerous multiplexes.

According to the film’s producer and director, Simpson, ‘No other filmmaker distributed movie has performed anywhere near as well in 2017.’

Courtesy InYo Entertainment Native American actor, Dave Bald Eagle in the film ‘Neither Wolf Nor Dog.’

Hugh Wronski, Senior Publicist for Lagoon theaters in Minneapolis, MN said, ‘The Lagoon’s opening weekend of Neither Wolf Nor Dog was the best weekend gross in the entire country. It’s nice to see that beautifully told stories can still find an audience.’ 

ICTMN

The filmmakers of Neither Wolf Nor Dog  also cited a higher proportion of Native-owned cinemas playing the film than any film before. “Around 10% of theaters were owned by tribes, or tribal members, including the Ak-Chin in Maricopa,” said Simpson…The film is worth noting for its simplicity and attention paid to Native culture. The film had 18 shooting days on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, a crew of 2 and a 95-year-old lead Native American actor, Dave Bald Eagle.”

 

NOTICE: Schools and other groups that would be interested in setting up a showing of the film can email event@inyoentertainment.com. Those waiting for the DVD release can join the mailing list for information https://goo.gl/aBWYxw.

 

Category: Culture, Films

“Wanted: Navajo People – or their kids – Who Appeared in Old-Time Westerns”

“From about 1941 to 1957, the Navajo Reservation was visited by dozens of filmmakers who wanted to include the beauty of the scenery in their movies.  A documentary producer is researching those good old days and is looking for Navajos who appeared as extras in movies like John Ford’s ‘Stagecoach’ or ‘A Distant Trumpet.’ B. Donovan, Navajo Times

 

On the set of film Stagecoach. photo- Vanity Fair.

Excerpt: Wanted: People – or their kids – who appeared in old-time westerns, By  Bill Donovan, Navajo Times

“The problem for many of these films, however, is that they were made 70 or 80 years ago and most of those who were in the films have passed on. So the producers are also looking for children whose parents or grandparents may have been in the films and remember the stories they told about being in the films.

Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, director John Ford’s favorite scene for films. photo- tripadvisor

This is a low-budget documentary so people who are interviewed will receive no pay but it will give them a chance to preserve some of the film history that is unique to Navajo country.

Scene from film A Distant Trumpet

Scene from film Stagecoach by John Ford

If you want to be a part of the project, the person in charge of the project, Duncan Harvey, will be in the area this weekend and is looking for people to talk to.

The landscape of colossal sandstone formations straddling the Arizona-Utah state line has become an iconic image of the American West

He can be contacted at 602-765-7977 or 602-317-6337.

Category: Culture, Films