Indigenous Short Films

May 15, 2012 - 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM

Indigenous Short Films from the Sundance Festival

image from Two Cars, One Night

Presented by Tom Huff.

Nikamowin (Song) (2008)  Directed by Kevin Lee Burton
This film highlights a linguistic soundscape comprised of the deconstruction and reconstruction of Cree narration dances with various manipulated landscapes. This audiovisual experiment begs questions of how languages exist, emerge, and survive. The altered and constructed Cree that the director speaks in this film is not one that conforms to the traditional constructs of the Cree language, but it does resonate deeply enough to make us feel like we are hearing something that we truly understand—a message that asks dying-language speakers to hear their inner song of pride and bring back the language. Kevin Lee Burton is a director, film festival programmer, and freelance camera operator who is Swampy Cree from God’s Lake Narrows, Manitoba.

Shimásání 2008 (15min)  Directed by Blackhorse Lowe Navajo with English subtitles
When Mary Jane finds a geography book that shows her an entirely new world, she must decide whether to maintain her traditional Navajo reservation lifestyle with her grandmother or go out into a larger world.

Sikumi (On the Ice) (2008) Directed by Andrew Okpeaha MacLean
An Inuit hunter drives his dog team out on the frozen Arctic Ocean in search of seals, but instead, becomes a witness to murder. In the microscopic communities of Arctic Alaska there is no anonymity–the hunter knows both the victim and the murderer. The murderer, claiming self-defense and desperate to avoid punishment, tries to persuade his friend to forget what he has seen, and help dispose of the body. The hunter is forced to navigate the uneasy morality of honoring the body and memory of one friend and destroying the life of another.

Goodnight Irene (2004) (14min) Directed by Sterlin Harjo (Creek/Seminole)
Two young men have a life-changing encounter with an elder in the waiting room of an Indian Health Service clinic. Sterlin Harjo’s winning Goodnight Irene is the latest reminder of what we’re missing. A simple 13-minute short with a fair amount of lingering power, the piece takes place in the waiting room of a hospital on an Indian reservation. An older Seminole woman, the titular Irene, sits with two young Seminole men as they each await treatment. Although the movie’s hand is tipped by an opening epigraph reading something like “…and when they are gone, who will tell us their stories?,” the point is clearly made that the young Seminoles — much like twentysomethings in Anglo culture — too easily fail to recognize the wisdom carried around by tribal elders such as Irene.

Gesture Down (I Don’t Sing) (2006 ) (10 min.) Directed by Cedar Sherbert (Kumeyaay)
The filmmaker shares a poetic and personal reflection of his journey south from California to Mexico in search of the “last” traditional Kumeyaay singer. The work was inspired by James Welch’s poem, “Gesture Down to Guatemala.”

Two Cars, One Night (2004) (12 min) Directed by Taika Waititi
Although it may not seem so, this short film is set in the present day (hence the reference to Johnny Depp). Two brothers (Romeo & Ed) wait in a car outside the pub their parents are in, when another car pulls up, two people get out and enter the pub, leaving 12 year old Polly in the car. What starts out as taunting and awkward looks, turns into an unlikely friendship between Romeo and Polly (Ed is too busy reading to be interested). What makes this film all the more unique are the thick East Coast (of New Zealand) accents, which most New Zealanders can relate to and make the film extremely realistic. Human connection was the main premise in Two Cars, One Night’s creation, as explained by its director Taika Waititi; “I want to show how human contact creates something special in a not so special environment.” This really is a one of a kind film which shows the most simple things in life can make the biggest difference. Nominated for an Oscar.

$5 Suggested Donation.