Native Cinema Rising
Publication Year: 2012
Published by: University of Nebraska Press
List of Illustrations
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I want to thank Chris Eyre and Sherman Alexie, most of all for making Smoke Signals, and also for making time to talk and correspond with me ten years later about the film and its production and reception. I’m also grateful to the indefatigable Christy...
Series Editors’ Introduction
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From the earliest moments that we imagined the Indigenous Films series as an antidote to the canonical, Eurocentric approach to cinema studies, we knew we wanted to address Smoke Signals as soon as we could. We both believed that Smoke Signals’s release in 1998 had been a transformative event in the history...
Introduction—“A Way to Sit at the Same Table”: Indigenizing Popular Culture
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Smoke Signals is the most widely recognized and frequently taught film in the field of Native American cinema. The creative duo behind the film’s production, director Chris Eyre (Cheyenne/Arapaho) and author/screenwriter Sherman Alexie...
1. “Indians Watching Indians”: Speaking to and from Cinema History
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Midway through Smoke Signals, as the camera tilts upward from a small television screen playing a Western film, Thomas Builds-the-Fire says, “You know, the only thing more pathetic than Indians on TV is Indians watching Indians on TV!” Many critics point to...
2. “The Storyteller Is Part of the Story”: Making Smoke Signals
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In Smoke Signals, Thomas Builds-the-Fire’s joke that “the only thing more pathetic than Indians on TV is Indians watching Indians on TV” seems to function as the film’s defining moment, a cinematic statement of thesis that is worth returning to...
3. “Dances with Salmon”: Reading Smoke Signals
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Recalling the experience of scripting and filming Smoke Signals, Sherman Alexie has said, “It’s pretty amazing to be in charge of our own images. . . . I think we were immediately aware that we were doing something revolutionary, that it was a...
4. “Take Your Dad’s Pickup”: Smoke Signals’s Reception
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In a 1998 interview for a Los Angeles Times article on Smoke Signals, Alexie described his expansive ambitions for the film’s impact: “I want to change the world. . . . I want to change the world’s perceptions of Indians.” Because Smoke Signals was conceived...
Conclusion—“Be a Crazy Horse of Filmmaking”: Smoke Signals and the Ongoing Production and Reception of Native Cinema
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Smoke Signals was introduced to the public in 1998 as a Native cinema “first”: the first feature film written, directed, and acted by Native Americans to receive national distribution. By marketing Smoke Signals this way upon its initial release, the...
Appendix—Remembering Smoke Signals: Interviews with Chris Eyre and Sherman Alexie
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Page Count: 304
Illustrations: 20 illustrations, 1 appendix
Publication Year: 2012