Category Archives: Films

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

“Reviving a Lost Language Through Film”

“Speaking Haida for the first time in more than 60 years looked painful. Sphenia Jones’s cheeks glistened with sweat, and her eyes clenched shut. She tried again to produce the forgotten raspy echo of the Haida k’, and again she failed. Then she smiled broadly. ‘It feels so good,” Ms. Jones, 73, said. ‘Mainly because I can say it out loud without being afraid.’ Ms. Jones was sent far from home to a residential school to be forcibly assimilated into Western culture. When a teacher caught Ms. Jones learning another indigenous language from two schoolmates, Ms. Jones said, the teacher yanked out three fingernails.” C. Porter, The New York Times

Spehenia Jones, 73, speaking Haida again for the first time since she was a child. NYT

Excerpt: Reviving a Lost Language of Canada Through Film, by Catherine Porter, The New York Times

“It worked: Ms. Jones spoke nothing but English, until recently, when she began learning her lines in the country’s first Haida-language feature film, Edge of the Knife.

With an entirely Haida cast, and a script written in a largely forgotten language, the film reflects a resurgence of indigenous art and culture taking place across Canada. It is spurred in part by efforts at reconciliation for the horrors suffered at those government-funded residential schools, the last of which was closed only in 1996.

Restoring the country’s 60 or so indigenous languages, many on the verge of extinction, is at the center of that reconciliation. The loss of one language, said Wade Davis, a University of British Columbia anthropology professor, is akin to clear-cutting an ‘old-growth forest of the mind.’ The world’s complex web of myths, beliefs and ideas — which Mr. Davis calls the ‘ethnosphere’ — is torn, just as the loss of a species weakens the biosphere, he said. A Haida glossary dedicates three pages to words and expressions for rain.

Tyler York, the lead actor in Edge of the Knife, getting a traditional sea grizzly tattoo on his chest. Credit Ruth Fremson:The New York Times

‘English cannot begin to describe the landscape of Haida Gwaii,’ the Haida homeland, Mr. Davis said. That really is what language is.’ Fewer than 20 fluent speakers of Haida are left in the world, according to local counts. For the Haida themselves, the destruction of their language is profoundly tied to a loss of identity.

‘The secrets of who we are, are wrapped up in our language,’ said Gwaai Edenshaw, a co-director of the film, who like most of the cast and crew grew up learning some Haida in school but spoke English at home.

North Beach on Graham Island, part of the remote archipelago of Haida Gwaii off British Columbia’s coast. Credit-Ruth Fremson:The New York Times

Mr. Edenshaw was a co-writer of the script for the 1.8 million Canadian dollar ($1.3 million) film, which is set in Haida Gwaii — an archipelago of forested islands off the west coast of Canada — during the 1800s. It tells an iconic Haida story of the ‘wildman,’ a man who is lost and becomes feral living in the forest. In this version, the wildman loses his mind after the death of a child, and is forcibly returned to the fold of his community in a healing ceremony.

Yan, an ancient Haida village in Haida Gwaii with a replica long house and totem pole, will be the location for filming “Edge of the Knife. CreditRuth Fremson:The New York Times

The film would seem cripplingly ambitious if not for the record of the executive producer, the Inuit director Zacharias Kunuk.  He made his name with  Atanarjuat (The Fast Runner) which depicted an Inuit folk epic and starred untrained Inuit actors speaking their traditional language, Inuktitut.That film won the Caméra d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival in 2001, and is still considered one of the best Canadian films of all time. Local builders constructed a long house on the site of an old traditional village where the film [Edge of the Knife] is being shot.

Vern Williams sang traditional songs in the long house as the actors finished rehearsing. CreditRuth Fremson:The New York Times

A local musician, Vern Williams, was hired to create songs for the film. During the evenings of the language camp, he pulled out his guujaaw — drum — and filled the long house with his low, mournful voice.  Mr. Williams, 58, spent seven terrible years in a residential school.‘I don’t call this reconciliation,’ he said. ‘Something was taken. We are taking it back.’ A Haida artist tattooed clan crests on the chests and arms of willing actors in the traditional stick-and-poke fashion.

After a long day of stumbling over pronunciation, Mr. Russ, one of the actors, sat by the wood stove with his script open on his lap, enjoying Mr. Williams’s music for a moment. He had circled every line he found difficult, which were all 37.

His relaxation did not last long. ‘I’m starting to feel overwhelmed,’ he said, heading outside to practice.Two weeks was not enough to learn pronunciation, let alone memorize his lines. Then, he had to learn how to act.”

Category: Films

Film Moana to be Dubbed by Māori Natives!

“The call has gone out from The Walt Disney Animation Studios and Matewa Media who are searching for our very own Māori Moana as the movie is set to be dubbed in te reo Māori.” T. Koti, Māori Online News

Excerpt: Are you the Māori Moana? By  Tepara Koti, Māori Online News

“The Academy Award nominated animated feature Moana has particularly resonated with Māori and Pacific Island viewers who will no doubt be excited with the news.  The recording process will take place over the next few months with actors Rachel House (“Gramma Tala”), Temuera Morrison (“Chief Tui”), Jemaine Clement (“Tamatoa”) and Oscar Kightley (“Fisherman”) reprising their roles.

Te Whānau-a-Apanui’s Rob Ruha, a multi-award-winning composer and solo artist, has joined the team as both Musical Director and as an integral part of the translation/adaptation team. Release details are to be announced, with the goal to have the film shared both in festivals and on DVD for educational purposes in Aotearoa and beyond.

‘It’s been a big dream of mine to see mainstream movies translated into te reo Māori,’ says Waititi [director Taika Watiti].

‘For indigenous audiences to hear films in their own language is a huge deal, helping to normalize the native voice and give a sense of identification. It also encourages our youth to continue with their love and learning of the language, letting them know their culture has a place in the world.’

Note: Mauri Ora! We are on the search for our very own Māori speaking Moana. Auditions are due by June 15 so kia tere!

Casting information can be found on the Adrenaline Group website.

Category: Films