The All Roads Film Festival begins tonight and runs through Oct. 3 at the National Geographic Museum, and we’ll be reviewing a handful of its films over the course of the festival.
Since the dawn of the moving picture, Native Americans have been constant cinematic subjects. In the silent era, Native Americans were not only regular actors and but even occasional directors, even if their perspective was largely left off the sreen. Their image transformed over the years from fascinating characters into bloodthirsty savages, and then again from horse-riding scalp hunters to hippie-friendly activists and beyond. Reel Injun explores the images now ingrained in our cultural consciousness through cinema. Directors Neil Diamond (no, not that Neil Diamond) Catherine Bainbridge, and Jeremiah Hayes document the evolution of images of indigenous peoples, and demystify the Noble Savage. The film looks at the history of red-face in film, and the loss of so many diverse native nations’ identities as they were all lumped into a homogenized Southwestern desert tribe. Despite the heavy material, it’s actually a light-hearted film, rife with hope and good humor, that stays fiercely honest and refuses to get bogged down sorting through a colonial cinematic legacy.
Reel Injun screens today at 7 p.m. at National Geographic.