Native Americans in Los Angeles. For 12 hours one Friday night, from late afternoon until dawn, we follow a handful of urban Indians. Yvonne is pregnant, commenting on her life and dreams ...
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Harry and Eve Graham are trying to adopt a baby. The head of the agency senses Harry is keeping a secret and does some investigating. He soon discovers Harry has done an unusual amount of ... See full summary »
Native Americans in Los Angeles. For 12 hours one Friday night, from late afternoon until dawn, we follow a handful of urban Indians. Yvonne is pregnant, commenting on her life and dreams as she shops, walks home, cooks dinner, and watches her husband Homer leave with his friends. Homer and his pals go bar hopping, play some poker, and end up, bottles in hand, with other Indians on a hilltop. During the night, the men pick up women, there are fights, there's camaraderie, and Homer reflects on life in the city versus life on the reservation. At dawn, Yvonne watches Hector from a window as he and two pals and two women head somewhere. "Let's do it again tonight," says one. Written by
"The Exiles" is an account of 24 hours in the life of a group of young Native Americans living in downtown L.A.
"The Exiles" was made on a shoe-string budget by a number of idealistic young film-makers "led" by Kent Mackenzie as "writer/director/editor.
Mackenzie and his crew were dismayed (putting it lightly)by what they saw as a lack of use of film as an artistic medium. At the same time the standard "Hollywood" aesthetic sacrificed subject, in order to obtain perfect/yet unrealistic lighting schemes, camera movement, framing and pristine sound tracks.
Erik Daarstad, John Morrill and Bob Kaufman shot an incredibly striking 35mmm B&W film. It is truly stunning. And a testament to all involved.
"The Exiles" is phenomenal in that, Mackenzie agreed not to put anything in the film that "the actors" objected to in any way. Appropriately, but very unusual, the "voice" in the film is that of the subjects.
"The Exiles" is of a specific time: a Los Angeles that literally no longer exists. And it is timeless, in the questions it asks and in it's gut wrenching portrayal of a particular group of individual's lives. Lives that unfortunately could/and do exist as I write this almost 50 years later.
Mackenzie credits the viewer with the intelligence to relate to the human condition as seen on screen. And explore for one's self how we fit into a world in which these conditions exist. We aren't forced to listen to the traditional "voice of god" voice over that dehumanizes all involved in the experience.
Sadly, Kent Mackenzie died young in May of 1980. He made relatively few films. Yet, "The Exiles" and his USC student film: "Bunker Hill" (made with Robert Kaufman) spoke to a bright young artist who worked with an integrity few possess.
If one has the opportunity to see this film as it should be, in a theater on a 35mm print. It is well worth the time. And an experience which will stay with you from that day forward.
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