No One Ever Sees Natives: Natives in Film

We are about to embark on CPL's first Native American Heritage Month, which includes a number of interesting events. Some of these are film screenings, which I had the honor of helping select. It is rare to see Natives creatively controlling or centrally featured in films. However, here are a few gems you could check out:

Reel Injun: Available as downloadable video, this entertaining and enlightening documentary journeys through depictions of the Native in Hollywood. Tracing the timeline from old westerns where white men play Natives to more modern and accurate portrayals in Native-controlled films like Smoke Signals and Fast RunnerReel Injun paints a sometimes funny and often unpleasant portrait of just how much public image has been shaped by wildly damaging public media.

Trudell: This documentary about the life of political activist John Trudell intersperses his captivating spoken word with some archival footage of his participation in important acts like the American Indian movement and takeover of Alcatraz. What evolves is the picture of one of America's supposedly most wanted men advocating, in his own words, for his unique idea of civilization.

The Exiles: This fictional film follows 12 urban Natives in Los Angeles over 12 hours, showing the contrast between their lives on the reservation and adrift in the big city. We'll have screenings of the film at some CPL locations in November.

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