Native American & Indigenous Film

These are some of my favorite/important films featuring American Indian/Indigenous people/characters. I have an M.A. in Media Studies and did my thesis on American Indian women directors, so this subject is very interesting to me.
View:
Log in to copy items to your own lists.
1.
Whale Rider (2002)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
A contemporary story of love, rejection and triumph as a young Maori girl fights to fulfill a destiny her grandfather refuses to recognize. (101 mins.)
Director: Niki Caro
“ Love this film! So rare to feature an Indigenous girl's story at the forefront! ” - Sanguine_Marble
 
2.
Skins (2002)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
An inspirational tale about the relationship between two Sioux Indian brothers living on the Pine Ridge Indian reservation. (84 mins.)
Director: Chris Eyre
“ Love this film by Chris Eyre, especially the last scene. ” - Sanguine_Marble
 
3.
Kanehsatake: 270 Years of Resistance (1993 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.0/10 X  
A film account about the military 1990 siege of a Native American reserve near Oka, Quebec, Canada and its causes. (119 mins.)
“ Love Alanis Obomsawin! You can find her full-length documentary films here: http://www.nfb.ca/explore-all-directors/alanis-obomsawin/ ” - Sanguine_Marble
 
4.
Trudell (2005 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.2/10 X  
A chronicle of legendary Native American poet/activist John Trudell's travels, spoken word performances and politics. (80 mins.)
Director: Heather Rae
“ Amazing and beautiful film by Heather Rae! ” - Sanguine_Marble
 
5.
Smoke Signals (1998)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
Young Indian man Thomas is a nerd in his reservation, wearing oversize glasses and telling everyone stories no-one wants to hear... (89 mins.)
Director: Chris Eyre
“ The most well-know Indian directed film (Chris Eyre). Great indie gem! ” - Sanguine_Marble
 
6.
Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner (2001)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
The telling of an Inuit legend of an evil spirit causing strife in the community and one warrior's endurance and battle of its menace. (172 mins.)
Director: Zacharias Kunuk
“ It was the first feature film ever to be written, directed and acted entirely in Inuktitut, and has been highly praised. ” - Sanguine_Marble
 
7.
Four Sheets to the Wind (2007)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.9/10 X  
After his father's untimely suicide, Cufe leaves his home in a Native American reservation in search of a more fulfilling life. (81 mins.)
Director: Sterlin Harjo
“ Directed by one of my fav Indian directors Sterlin Harjo, featuring great performances by Cody Lightning and Tamara Podemski. A lovely low-budget film! ” - Sanguine_Marble
 
8.
Barking Water (2009)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.9/10 X  
Frankie is dying. Irene hasn't forgiven him. And they are racing against time to find their way home... (85 mins.)
Director: Sterlin Harjo
“ Another lovely film by Sterlin Harjo! Side Note: This is writer Sherman Alexie's fav Native American film. ” - Sanguine_Marble
 
9.
Thunderheart (1992)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  
A young mixed-blood FBI agent is assigned to work with a cynical veteran investigator on a murder on a poverty-stricken Sioux reservation. (119 mins.)
Director: Michael Apted
“ While it has a white male lead, it features great performances from Graham Greene & Sheila Tousey and touches on some real issues (Sheila's character is based on the amazing Anna Mae Pictou Aquash). ” - Sanguine_Marble
 
10.
Incident at Oglala (1992 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
This film describes the events surrounding a 1975 shootout at the Pine Ridge reservation in S. Dakota where two FBI agents were killed. (89 mins.)
Director: Michael Apted
“ Side note: Leonard Peltier is still in prison, even though the F.B.I. evidence that put him there is sketchy. This film & Thunderheart would be good screened together. ” - Sanguine_Marble
 
11.
Rabbit-Proof Fence (2002)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
In 1931, three aboriginal girls escape after being plucked from their homes to be trained as domestic staff and set off on a journey across the Outback. (94 mins.)
Director: Phillip Noyce
“ Great film that focuses on the history of aboriginal children in New Zealand (happened in the U.S. and Canada too) being forced into Boarding schools. ” - Sanguine_Marble
 
12.
Ten Canoes (2006)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.0/10 X  
A story within a story. In Australia's Northern Territory, a man tells us one of the stories of his people and his land... (90 mins.)
“ Love Aboriginal actor David Gulpilil (Crocodile Dundee, Rabbit-Proof Fence, The Tracker). ” - Sanguine_Marble
 
13.
Frozen River (2008)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
Takes place in the days before Christmas near a little-known border crossing on the Mohawk reservation between New York State and Quebec... (97 mins.)
Director: Courtney Hunt
“ Great performances. Native actress Misty Upham has a great supporting role in this. ” - Sanguine_Marble
 
14.
Miss Navajo (2007 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
The role of women and tradition in Dine (Navajo) culture is explored through a young girl's quest for the Miss Navajo Nation crown. (60 mins.)
Director: Billy Luther
“ Great Documentary! Check it out on Netflix! ” - Sanguine_Marble
 
15.
Clearcut (1991)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
When a lawyer loses an appeal to stop a logging company from clear-cutting Native American land, Arthur... (100 mins.)
“ I haven't seen this one yet, but I'm sure Graham Greene is amazing. ” - Sanguine_Marble
 
16.
Our Spirits Don't Speak English: Indian Boarding School (2008 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.3/10 X  
From Rich-Heape Films, the award winning producers of Trail of Tears Cherokee Legacy and Black Indians... (80 mins.)
“ Harrowing story of how the U.S. government forced Native children into boarding schools. ” - Sanguine_Marble
 
17.
Apache 8 (2011 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.4/10 X  
APACHE 8 tells the story of an all-women wildland firefighter crew from the White Mountain Apache Tribe...
Director: Sande Zeig
“ Love this documentary directed by Sande Zeig and produced by Heather Rae. ” - Sanguine_Marble
 
18.
Geronimo: An American Legend (1993)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  
The story of the Apache chief and his armed resistance to the US Government's subjugation of his people. (115 mins.)
Director: Walter Hill
“ While I love Wes Studi in anything, the movie lacks mention of the female warrior Lozen whose skill helped them tremendously! Definitely look her up, she was pretty awesome. ” - Sanguine_Marble
 
19.
The Only Good Indian (2009)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  
Set in Kansas during the early 1900s, a teen-aged Native American boy (newcomer Winter Fox Frank) is... (114 mins.)
Director: Kevin Willmott
“ Another great performance from Wes Studi, and a depiction of Indian boarding schools. ” - Sanguine_Marble
 
20.
Older Than America (2008)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 5.6/10 X  
A woman's haunting visions reveal a Catholic priest's sinister plot to silence her mother from speaking... (102 mins.)
“ Georgina Lightning directs this haunting film. ” - Sanguine_Marble
 
21.
The Business of Fancydancing (2002)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  
Seymour Polatkin is a successful, gay Native American poet from Spokane who confronts his past when... (103 mins.)
Director: Sherman Alexie
“ One of the few fiction films exploring Two-Spirit identity. ” - Sanguine_Marble
 
22.
Two Spirits (2009 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
Filmmaker Lydia Nibley explores the cultural context behind a tragic and senseless murder. Fred Martinez... (65 mins.)
Director: Lydia Nibley
“ Also known as Two Spirits: Sexuality, Gender, and the Murder of Fred Martinez ” - Sanguine_Marble
 
23.
Naturally Native (1998)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  
Three Native American sisters (Red-Horse, Bedard, Guerrero) decide to try to sell a line of cosmetics they call Naturally Native... (107 mins.)
“ One of the few fiction films featuring female Native American leads. ” - Sanguine_Marble
 
24.
Edge of America (2003 TV Movie)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
Based on a true story, a black educator takes a job teaching high-school English at the Three Nations Reservation, and is coaxed into coaching the girls basketball team. (105 mins.)
Director: Chris Eyre
“ Another great one by Chris Eyre. ” - Sanguine_Marble
 
25.
The Doe Boy (2001)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
A Cherokee boy is a haemophiliac in a culture obsessed with blood identity. (85 mins.)
Director: Randy Redroad
“ Intriguing film by Randy Redroad. ” - Sanguine_Marble
 
26.
The Journals of Knud Rasmussen (2006)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  
A portrayal of the lives of the last great Inuit shaman, Avva, and his beautiful and headstrong daughter, Apak. Based on the journals of 1920s Danish ethnographer Knud Rasmussen. (112 mins.)
“ Also by the crew that did Atanarjuat:The Fast Runner ” - Sanguine_Marble
 
27.
The Last Wave (1977)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
A Sydney lawyer defends five Aborigines in a ritualized taboo murder and in the process learns disturbing things about himself and premonitions. (106 mins.)
Director: Peter Weir
 
28.
Windtalkers (2002)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.0/10 X  
Two U.S. Marines in WWII are assigned to protect Navajo Marines who use their native language as an unbreakable radio cypher. (134 mins.)
Director: John Woo
“ A lot of people attribute the U.S.'s success in WWI & WWII to Choctaw and Navajo code talkers. ” - Sanguine_Marble
 
29.
Choctaw Code Talkers (2010 Documentary)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 -/10 X  
In 1918, not yet citizens of the U.S., Choctaw members of the American Expeditionary Forces were asked... (56 mins.)
“ Great film by Native director Valerie Red-Horse. ” - Sanguine_Marble
 
30.
Spirit Rider (1993 TV Movie)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  
Jesse Threebears is a troubled Native-American teen who has been tossed from one foster home to the next since his mother died when he was an infant... (95 mins.)
 
31.
DreamKeeper (2003 TV Movie)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
In South Dakota, in an Indian reservation, an old storyteller Indian asks his grandson Shane, who is in trouble owing money to some bad guys... (174 mins.)
Director: Steve Barron
“ I have yet to see this, but I've heard lots of raves about it. ” - Sanguine_Marble
 
32.
Blackstone (2009 TV Series)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
Political drama situated in a First Nations community in Canada. (44 mins.)
“ Canadian show with great performances by a ton of Native actresses/actors. ” - Sanguine_Marble
 
33.
Christmas in the Clouds (2001)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  
A classic comedy of mistaken identity and romance set during the holiday season at a ski resort that is owned and operated by a Native American Nation... (96 mins.)
Director: Kate Montgomery
 
34.
Lakota Woman: Siege at Wounded Knee (1994 TV Movie)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
Mary Crow Dog, daughter of a desperately poor Indian family in South Dakota, is swept up in the protests... (100 mins.)
Director: Frank Pierson
“ Hard to find film, featuring an excellent performance by Irene Bedard (voice of Disney's Pocahontas). ” - Sanguine_Marble
 
35.
Turquoise Rose (2007)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.2/10 X  
"Turquoise Rose" is a coming of age story about a Navajo girl from Arizona. Raised in the suburbs of Phoenix... (94 mins.)
 
36.
Rez Bomb (2008)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
Set on and around the poorest place in the USA, Pine Ridge Indian Reservation Rez Bomb is a love story/thriller... (95 mins.)
 
37.
Coyote Waits (2003 TV Movie)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
Two tribal cops uncover a plot involving a lost fortune, an historical artifact and a mythical Coyote on a Navajo reservation. (107 mins.)
Director: Jan Egleson
“ Park of PBS pictures detective series featuring Native-themed stories starring Wes Studi & Adam Beach ” - Sanguine_Marble
 
38.
Powwow Highway (1989)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
Depicts the struggles of reservation-dwelling Native Americans in the North Central United States. The... (88 mins.)
Director: Jonathan Wacks
“ Gary Farmer is always entertaining. ” - Sanguine_Marble