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Dispelling stereotypes in the big apple


Ray Morrin (Duane Murray) and Jolene Peltier (Melanie McLaren) in Tkaronto

A buff warrior in a loincloth with red war paint across his cheeks stands beside a long raven-haired beauty, who is clad in beaded buckskin, complete with a feather in her hair: these are the most common stereotypes attributed to Native peoples in North America. Instilled in the global consciousness by Hollywood films, they are often the only portrayals most people know.

On the dark side of this strife are the negative stereotypes that are attributed to Native peoples street-side. Stereotypes are planted and reinforced into the global consciousness with films like Disney’s Pocahontas, Mel Gibson’s Apacolypto and the ‘70s flick Little Big Man.

Since the uniting of writer Sherman Alexie and director Chris Eyre in Smoke Signals there has been a definitive shift toward Native peoples controlling their own images in celluloid. In less than two weeks the Native American Film + Video Festival is happening in New York City.

Chris Eyre opens the festival March 26th with his PBS mini-series film We Shall Remain: Trail of Tears. Saturday night features director Shane Belcourt's Tkaronto which tells the tale of two urban Natives in Toronto, ON. The festival celebrates the creative energy of Native American directors, producers, writers, actors, musicians, cultural activists, and all the others who support their endeavors. With over 60 screenings and in it’s 30th year, this festival is sure to bring a broad platform in which the next generation of Native peoples films can flourish.

Today there are many talented Indigenous filmmakers and writers who are able to shift global consciousness and show there is more to Indigenous peoples than buff warriors and bucksin dresses.

~Contributed by Lisa Charleyboy of Urban Native Girl Stuff


5 comments:

Yemoonyah said...

I really wish I could come to the festival and see all these great movies and series. But I'm stuck in Berlin where I don't get to see any of this. Sigh...

Yvonne said...

Wow, I can only hope that these movies make their way to the states. Sounds extremely interesting.

HouariB said...

You need to write your history because if you don't other will.
I think it's good that "Native" american start to do that.

Karen said...

Smoke Signals is one of my favorite movies! Adam Beach is one of the most underrated actors, I wish he got more starring roles in Hollywood because I try to watch everything he's in.

Karen said...

Oh--and then there's Evan Adams performance in Smoke Signals. He definitely belongs on my quirky hall of fame. He was such a likable geek who tapped into a pinch of hardcore at the end. So classic!