Three November California festivals highlight Native American films, and after taking in all three, Indian Country Today Media Network was ready to pick five must-sees from 2013.
Perhaps not unsurprisingly, the first out of the chute was “Winter in the Blood,” the Montana-set, Montana-filmed adaptation of James Welch’s acclaimed novel.
Starring a who’s-who of Native actors that includes Chaske Spencer, Julia Jones, Gary Farmer, Michael Spears and Saginaw Grant, expectations were high for “Winter in the Blood” and the film largely delivered.
Also making the grade: “The Lesser Blessed,” “Maina,” “The Cherokee Word for Water” and “Tiger Eyes.”
The latter, based on a Judy Blume best-seller, was “not a Native film per se,” the ICTMN staff admitted, but is worth watching for the breakout performance of Native actor Tatanka Means.
The staff found the five movies at either the Red Nation Film Festival or L.A. Skins Fest, both in Los Angeles, or the American Indian Film Festival in San Francisco.
The three fests run essentially simultaneously, which makes November a dream month for fans of Native film.
What’s more, 2013 has been a truly outstanding year for Native cinema. In addition to an always-strong slate of documentary films, among them “Indian Relay,” “Urban Rez” and “Young Lakota,” Native directors and actors turned in exceptional work in a number of movies, and that’s what we’ll focus on here. (By our own ad-hoc reasoning, and despite solid work by Natives in supporting roles, we’re disqualifying the endlessly-analyzed farce that was “The Lone Ranger” and the less-ridiculous “Jimmy P.” for casting non-Natives in leading roles. Our list, our rules.)
The story at the ICTMN website contains trailers for all five “must-see” films.
- Vince Devlin