Monday, November 21, 2016

The Revenant wins Best Director at Red Nation Film Fest

Nov. 21, 2016 - Oscar Winning Director, Alejandro González Iñárritu, wins Best Director for The Revenant at the 13th Annual Red Nation Film Festival in Hollywood.

From Rolling Stone: Loosely based on the real-life adventure of a 19th-century American fur trapper named Hugh Glass, the film stars a prodigiously bearded Leonardo DiCaprio, who is mauled by a bear and then betrayed and left for dead by other members of his hunting party. The rest of the movie, on one level, is an immensely satisfying genre exercise, a proto-Western revenge fantasia in the tradition of Death Wish or Kill Bill, in which the audience endures the cruel sufferings of the protagonist as a pleasure-enhancing prelude to feats of impossible endurance, survival and bloody restitution.

Visually, the film is a spectacular throwback, the sort of epic rarely seen since the era of Lawrence of Arabia. It's also a sustained spiritual meditation, as well as an implicit critique of American capitalism, as told through its earliest incursions into the relatively untouched wilderness of the New World.

Read more: Alejandro G. Iñárritu: Hollywood's King of Pain by Mark Binelli, February 17, 2016, Rolling Stone

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Mni Wiconi (Water is Life)

Online Movie Premiere, Mother Jones, November 15, 2016

Mni Wiconi ("Water is Life" in the Sioux language) doesn't aim to be an exhaustive document of the battle against this 1,172-mile oil pipeline. Rather, the film is an introduction to the conflict and the players at Standing Rock—"a primer," filmmaker Lucian Read says. The fight isn't over, after all. On Monday, the tribe seemed to get a reprievewhen the Army Corps of Engineers called for further analysis of the proposed pipeline route and consultation with tribal officials about their concerns. Standing Rock activists have declared Tuesday a "national day of action" against the pipeline, a project that is 95 percent complete despite the lack of the official easements and permits needed to finish it.

In addition to introducing key anti-pipeline figures, such as Standing Rock chairman Dave Archambault II and local landowner and activist LaDonna Allard, Read's nine-minute film is a lush visual explainer, a kaleidoscopic sketch of the conflict's root causes, from poverty to broken treaties to the "militarization of the oil industry," as one character puts it.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Embrace of the Serpent

Set in the Amazon rainforest, Embrace of the Serpent tells two stories, separated by decades but united in the person of indigenous Amazonian Karamakate. In the first storyline, set in 1909, Karamakate becomes the reluctant guide to Theodor Koch-Grunberg, a gravely ill German anthropologist who believes his only chance of recovery is by travelling deep into the forest to find a sacred plant once cultivated by Karamakate’s people which may or may not exist anymore (Karamakate’s people might not exist anymore either, as they have fled into the wilderness to escape encroaching rubber plantations). Several decades later, an aging Karamakate is recruited by an American scientist to retrace the journey of 1909; the American is ostensibly looking for the sacred plant, but may have ulterior motives. As we watch Karamakate’s journey unfold, we are witnesses to a series of nightmarish tableaux, as we see the depredations of the white rubber farmers and cultural destruction wrought by racist missionaries. It’s a hypnotic film, alternately beautiful and horrifying.

Read more: 6 Great Indigenous Movies, by James Spillane, October 10, 2016, City Pages, Arts & Leisure