Smoke Signals: Post-Colonial Film Series
Nov 29, 2012
from 01:00 pm to 04:00 pm
|Where||Schumaker Research Building, Room 139|
|Contact Name||Tracy Heightchew|
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With discussion from Dr. Simona Bertacco to follow
The foundation of Smoke Signals is the central figures of Victor Joseph (Adam Beach) and Thomas Builds-the-Fire (Evan Adams), two natives of the Coeur D'Alene Reservation in Idaho. Victor and Thomas aren't friends, but they have known each other since childhood, and they share a link. On a night in 1976, Arnold Joseph (Gary Farmer), Victor's father, saved the infant Thomas from a fire that killed his parents. Now, more than 20 years later, Arnold, who abandoned his wife, Arlene (Tantoo Cardinal), and son for a life in Phoenix, has died, and Victor must make the trip to claim his ashes. Thomas, who is supplying the money for the journey, accompanies him. Along the way, they teach each other life lessons. Thomas, who has a sensitive nature and is a storyteller, shows Victor that there's more to living than cynicism and pent-up anger. Victor, in turn, lets Thomas know what it means to be a real Indian. In one of the film's best sequences, he has these words of advice: "Indians ain't supposed to smile. Get stoic. If you don't look mean, white people won't respect you." For Thomas, the trip from Idaho to Arizona means an opportunity to come to grips with his ancestry. For Victor, it's a chance to forgive his estranged father in death. And, for us, it offers the prospect of seeing beyond the stereotypes that plague Native Americans in even the best films.