A documentary about the evolution of the depiction of First Nations people in film, from the silent era to today. Featuring clips from hundreds of films, candid interviews with famous Native and non-Native directors, writers and actors, Reel Injun traces how the image of First Nations people in cinema have influenced the understanding and misunderstanding of their culture and history. Written by
A Provocative History of Hollywood's Portrayal of Native Americans
Reel Injun is a compelling and insightful film about the history of Hollywood's stereotyping of Native Americans. While it may be trying to cover too much in presenting the entire history of Native Americans in film from the silent era to the present (and thus skips over much in its broad sweep), it is nevertheless highly informative and provocative. I suspect that even the most of the film junkies here at SXSW Film Festival in Austin, TX learned quite a bit about a topic that has rarely been treated systematically. The use of small stories about the characters and humorous antidotes is excellent. In exploring the film portrayals of Native Americans Reel Injun also reflects on how the broader culture and the Native peoples have come to view themselves. Even our portrayal of all the specific tribes as the stereotypical feather-laden plains "Injun" was a form of cultural warfare. The evolution of their image in more recent films reflects the gradual changes that have occurred in our culture as it has become increasingly multicultural and open-minded. This film could certainly be used as a powerful educational tool to educate students about how we have historically not only committed genocide against Native Peoples, but used film to portray the victims of American colonial expansion as the violent aggressors.
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