Native American Film Festival slated

From Nov. 8 to 12, SUNY Oswego will sponsor a Native American Film Series studying contemporary portrayals of the country’s first citizens.

The film series is one of many campus activities tying into this year’s Oswego Reading Initiative campus-wide book selection, Sherman Alexie’s “The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven.” The award-winning book is a collection of short stories about struggling characters growing up on a modern Spokane Indian reservation.

“Smoke Signals,” a film based on a story from Alexie’s book, will headline the festival with a screening at 3 p.m. Friday, Nov. 12, at the Oswego Cinema on West Second Street in downtown Oswego.

The first feature film starring, written, produced and directed by American Indians, “Smoke Signals” premiered at the 1998 Sundance Film Festival and captured the Audience Award and Filmmakers Trophy. The notable reception led to Miramax picking up the film for wide distribution. Directed by Chris Eyre, the film looks at relationships between fathers and sons, how Native Americans are viewed by the outside world and how an act of kindness can lead to a life-changing adventure.

Tickets for the “Smoke Signals” screening cost $5 and can be obtained from the Tyler Hall box office (312-2141) through Nov. 11 and from Oswego Cinema on the day of the show.

Three on-campus film screenings, all admission-free and followed by discussions, will look at Native American issues and depictions on the silver screen. Free refreshments will be offered at these sessions, which all will begin at 7 p.m. in Bell Auditorium in Hewitt Union.

“Little Big Man,” showing Monday, Nov. 8, is a historical comedy that follows events from Sand Creek to Little Big Horn. The 1970 film, directed by Arthur Penn and starring Dustin Hoffman, incorporates both U.S. cavalry and Native American points of view. Bennet Schaber of the collge’s English department will lead the post-screening conversation.

“Dreamkeeper,” voted best film at the 28th annual American Indian Film Festival, will show on Tuesday, Nov. 9. The 2003 made-for-television miniseries from Hallmark Entertainment was directed by Steve Barron and produced by Robert Halmi Jr. The film features the legends of Native American nations. Kevin White of the college’s Office of Learning Services will direct the ensuing discussion.

“Last of His Tribe,” on Wednesday, Nov. 10, follows the story of Ishii (Graham Greene), the last survivor of the Yahi people of northern California. Directed by Harry Hook and based on a true story, the 1992 film depicts a man from a civilization thought to be extinct entering modern civilization as he comes to San Francisco to live with anthropologist Dr. Alfred Kroeber (Jon Voight). Richard Horan of the Office of Learning Services will moderate the post-film talk.

The public is invited to all films and discussions, which are sponsored by SUNY Oswego’s Artswego and the Sequential Arts program. For more information, call 312-4581.

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(Posted: Oct 20, 2004)