The Inconvenient Indian: One Book One Northwestern

Date Film Time
4/7 The Exiles FREE 7 pm
4/21 Navajo Talking Picture FREE 7 pm
4/28 Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner FREE 7 pm

One Book One Northwestern’s 2015-16 selection, Thomas King’s The Inconvenient Indian, offers a penetrating, provocative look at the history of North American Indian-white relations in North America. It focuses on government efforts to remove and relocate Native peoples and white efforts to exterminate and assimilate them. Block Cinema has put together a three-film series that is meant to challenge audience’s perspectives on Native American bodies on screen. These three films are presented from the perspective of Native people in the Americas: contemporary USA in The Exiles and Navajo Talking Picture, and 11th century Canada in Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner.

The Exiles

Thursday, April 7, 2016 7:00 PM FREE
(Kent MacKenzie, 1961, USA, 35mm, 72 min.)

This once-forgotten masterpiece is a sensitive and unvarnished day-in-the-life look at a group of young native transplants living in the Bunker Hill district of Los Angeles and is based on Mackenzie’s interviews with the film’s cast. Homer lives with his pregnant wife, Yvonne, in a crowded apartment. The film follows him as he abandons Yvonne at a movie for a night of thrills and debauchery with his friend Tommy. The two wander the city at night in search of fights, poker games, and escape from their troubles. Documenting the sights and sounds of 1960s Los Angeles—since lost to urban development—Mackenzie explores the lives of these urban Native Americans while creating one of the key early works of American new wave cinema. The Exiles “deserves to be ranked with John Cassavetes's Shadows.”—Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader

Navajo Talking Picture

Thursday, April 21, 2016 7:00 PM FREE
(Arlene Bowman, 1985, USA, DVD, 40 min.)

The first-person documentary Navajo Talking Picture follows director Arlene Bowman, an assimilated Navajo film student at UCLA, as she attempts to document her grandmother’s traditional way of life on a reservation. Playing the roles of director, narrator, and subject, Bowman faces a language barrier and direct objection from her grandmother, who sees the filming as a violation of her privacy. Navajo Talking Picture questions the notion of what it means to be a cultural outsider, as generations of Navajo grapple with the complexities of documenting their disappearing heritage.

Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner

Thursday, April 28, 2016 7:00 PM FREE
(Zacharias Kunuk, 2001, Canada, digital, 172 min.)

A contemporary classic and a milestone in native representation on screen, Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner is the first feature film performed entirely in Inuktitut. Based on an Inuit legend, Atanarjuat is an epic tale, set in the distant past, of love, rivalry, betrayal, and murder. The film was celebrated by international audiences, but, more importantly, also by the traditional indigenous community it depicts, who financed and supported its production. “Austere and violent, the movie is also touched by humor and sensuality, and full of unforgettable images of the blinding Arctic landscape.”—A.O. Scott, New York Times