Posts Tagged ‘“Winter in the Blood”’

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.

Winter in the Blood

Chaske Spencer stars as Virgil First Raise in “Winter in the Blood,” based on the novel by the late James Welch of Missoula (Photo by Ken Billington).

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

Tags: , , ,

Chaske Spencer, left, playing Virgil First Raise, along with Michael Spears, center, and Gary Farmer, right, pitch hay on the set of "Winter in the Blood" in August 2011. (Courtesy of DONNIE SEXTON/Montana Office of Tourism)


Missoulian reporter Vince Devlin takes us to the Hi-line of Montana where the film “Winter in the Blood” was made using Native actors and extras. The story follows the trials of Virgil First Raise (Chaske Spencer) on the Fort Belknap Reservation.

A sneak peek of the film will be held in Missoula, MT., this weekend. Visionary Insight: Behind the Scenes of the Film ‘Winter in the Blood’” screens Saturday at 5:15 p.m. at the Wilma Theatre, a part of the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival

Here’s Devlin’s story on the making of the film:

    On a bitter cold January night in 2007, screenwriter-actor Ken White was having trouble sleeping.

    White was a guest at the Montana ranch home of Annick Smith, mother of his filmmaker friends, twins Andrew and Alex Smith. He pulled a book off a shelf to read hoping only that it would lure his eyelids toward half-mast.

    Several hours later White put down “Winter in the Blood” by James Welch. He’d stayed up all night to finish the book, and was still wide awake.

    “He called us that morning,” Alex says, “and said, ‘Why aren’t you making this book into a movie?’ It was a good question. Why aren’t we?”

    The twins had known Welch for as long as they could remember. He was a long-time family friend from before they’d even been born.
    He’d even met his wife Lois at a dinner party at their house.
    “Winter in the Blood,” the story of a troubled and aimless young man on Montana’s Fort Belknap Indian Reservation, was Welch’s first novel and started his transition from poet to author.

Read the rest of this entry »

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Courtesy of Racebending.com

Courtesy of Racebending.com


Actor Chaske Spencer (Lakota Sioux tribe, and raised on Indian Reservations in Montana and Idaho) has found success in Hollywood.

The actor is currently starring as a Native werewolf in the vampire love story series, “Twilight,” which is hyped and popular. The role is “huge” he admits. His plate is full too in the upcoming months: He’s going to do “Winter in the Blood,” the Montana author James Welch novel, among other movie projects.

With the foundation of the success coming after an all-too-familiar notorious ride to Hollywood – he’s says it was and is his traditional beliefs that need to be the constant.

Because “Hollywood has a very short memory,” he says, and predicts that as a Native American, securing roles will continue to be a struggle. His conversation with Racebending.com contributor Gabriel Canada focuses on how his career path is never too far from his roots.

He also with Racebender addresses poverty, his astonishment at being “here” coming from a reservation and his production company, Urban Dream.

    RACEBENDING.COM: In previous interviews you’ve talked about the fact that statistically, you shouldn’t be “here.” Can you elaborate for those unfamiliar with life on a reservations what those statistics are, and what you meant by that?

    CHASKE SPENCER: Coming from a reservation, the chances of people getting out and becoming successful are pretty rare. The people who do, it’s almost like jumping off a waterfall: you just jump and see if you land, and we will see if you’re okay, but at least you made the jump.

    When I talk about giving back to the community, I think it’s a responsibility for myself to do that. I’ve experienced a lot, living on reservation. There is poverty and abuse–physical, domestic and sexual. A lot of people don’t know that.

    It’s not just to raise an awareness, but also I can’t do it alone–some actor getting on a stage as a PSA. The people in the family structure, in their own homes, have to take up for themselves, take responsibility. I could just be a broken record playing over and over again.

    I had people like that come to my school when I was growing up, and it did have an influence on me, but it’s really up to the people themselves to do something about it. There is only so much someone can do to raise awareness, but if I can inspire someone to do that–to maybe make a change in their life–then I think I’ve done my job. But it’s not easy.

    Being in the spotlight as a Native American actor, you’re already being put on a pedestal as being a role model, which I don’t think anyone really ever wants. You’re thrust on there anyway, so you might as well make do with it what you can. But I’m not a perfect angel.

    Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,


Bookmark and Share

(Thanks to colleague Joe Nickell, who first posted this here on his Nickell’s Bag blog. An earlier casting call in Missoula drew hundreds of people. “Winter in the Blood,” by Blackfeet and Gros Ventre author James Welch, is set largely on the Fort Belknap Indian Reservation in Montana):

Perry Lilley Sr. has his measurements taken by Yuan Hua recently at the University of Montana for a possible role in an upcoming film based on the book “Winter in the Blood” by the late Missoula writer James Welch. Photo by MICHAEL GALLACHER/Missoulian

Perry Lilley Sr. has his measurements taken by Yuan Hua recently at the University of Montana for a possible role in an upcoming film based on the book “Winter in the Blood” by the late Missoula writer James Welch. Photo by MICHAEL GALLACHER/Missoulian

The directors of the upcoming film, “Winter in the Blood” [see previous post, here] are holding another open casting call for Native American actors, this time in Great Falls.

Here’s info straight from the source:

Casting Director Rene Haynes (Twilight Saga: New Moon) and Directors Andrew and Alex Smith (The Slaughter Rule) will be conducting an Open Casting Call April 10th & 11th, at the Great Falls Civic Center, 2 Park Drive South Great Falls, MT 59401, from 11:00am-3:00pm

Seeking: Native American BOYS (ages 10-17) for PRINCIPAL LEAD speaking roles. No acting experience necessary. Native American MEN & WOMEN (mid 20’s through mid 50’s) for both speaking and non-speaking roles. If you have attended another Winter in the Blood Casting Call, you need not audition again.

For more information and audition materials, click here.

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

“I would love to see it as a movie. Period,” Lois Welch said recently of her late husband James Welch’s first novel, “Winter in the Blood.” (MICHAEL GALLACHER/Missoulian)

“I would love to see it as a movie. Period,” Lois Welch said recently of her late husband James Welch’s first novel, “Winter in the Blood.” (MICHAEL GALLACHER/Missoulian)


Bookmark and Share

Here’s the companion piece by the Missoulian’s Jamie Kelly to our previous post about the casting call for the movie adaptation of James Welch’s “Winter in the Blood.”

James Welch (Michael Gallacher/Missoulian)

James Welch (Michael Gallacher/Missoulian)

Once upon a time, James Welch dreamed of seeing his words become pictures.

That was 26 years ago when Welch was first approached about turning his debut novel, “Winter in the Blood,” into a movie.

“My diary from that night says, ‘We went to bed giggling,’ and then we fell asleep giggling,” said Lois Welch, a retired University of Montana literature professor and widow of James, one of the most celebrated Indian novelists and poets in history.

James Welch, who was Blackfeet and Gros Ventre, and also Irish, died of a heart attack at the age of 62 in 2003. His work was lauded by critics the world over as deeply resonant not only of the Indian culture about which he wrote, but of all people.

“Winter in the Blood,” released in 1974, got its highest praise from the New York Times Book Review, easily the standard-bearer of literary criticism in the country.

Shortly afterward, the novel was “optioned” by a film agency that sought to turn it into a motion picture.

Trouble is, it never happened.

But it has a second chance now.
Read the rest of this entry »

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Hundreds of Native Americans showed up for the casting call for the film, which filmmakers hope to start shooting this summer in locations across Montana. (MICHAEL GALLACHER/Missoulian)

Hundreds of Native Americans showed up for the casting call for the film, which filmmakers hope to start shooting this summer in locations across Montana. (MICHAEL GALLACHER/Missoulian)



Jamie Kelly of the Missoulian in Montana describes this weekend’s scene at the casting call for Native American actors for the film adaptation of “Winter in the Blood,” the novel by the late Blackfeet and Gros Ventre writer James Welch:

Word spread like wildfire across Indian Country when the call went out for actors and extras for “Winter in the Blood.”

It was just a month ago that the notice was published in newspapers and Web sites across the Northwest. On Saturday, hundreds of Natives packed a third-floor wing of the University of Montana’s University Center to audition for parts large and small in the upcoming production, set to begin filming this summer.

“I don’t really know what’s going to happen,” said Matthew Weasel, 13, a Missoula boy who waited his turn to enter the audition room. “I’m just going to try my best.”

His mother, Glenda Weasel, kept him company at the noon hour.

Matthew is a fine Native dancer, an actor, an athlete and a busy kid who has just enough room left in his schedule to be in a movie.

“When I saw (the audition notice), I just thought, well, this is something different,” said Glenda. “He’s in sports, he dances in powwows, so I thought, OK, we’ll try it.”

Turns out a lot of people from across the Northwest thought the same thing.

Read the rest of this entry »

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

"New Moon" director seeks more Native actors in Valentine's Day casting call in Missoula, Mont.
Bookmark and Share

Thanks to our colleague Joe Nickell for this one. He posted the notice on his Nickell’s Bag blog:

Casting Director Rene Haynes (“Twlight Saga: New Moon,” “Skins,” “Into The West,” and “Dreamkeeper” will conduct an open casting call on Valentine’s Day weekend, Feb. 12 and Feb. 13 on the University of Montana campus in Missoula.

James Welch (Michael Gallacher/Missoulian)

James Welch (Michael Gallacher/Missoulian)

Here’s what’s so exciting for us here at Buffalo Post: He’s making a movie of “Winter in the Blood,” the novel by the late Blackfeet and Gros Ventre writer, James Welch. “Winter in the Blood” is about a young man on northern Montana’s Fort Belknap reservation, and it’s one of our favorite among Welch’s books, which is saying something.

The casting call for the movie will take place between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. in the University Center, Room 312. It seeks Native American men and women in their mid-20s through mid-50s for both speaking and non-speaking roles.

Even though it’s a very different kind of story, we can only hope the actors in this movie will see the same sort of success following the young Native actors who comprise the Wolfpack in “New Moon.”

Gwen Florio

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,