Holy Man is the story of Douglas White, an 88 year old Lakota Sioux medicine man from Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, who spent 17 years in federal prison for a crime he did ... See full summary »
Holy Man is the story of Douglas White, an 88 year old Lakota Sioux medicine man from Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, who spent 17 years in federal prison for a crime he did not commit. During the making of this film, filmmakers uncovered new evidence of White's innocence and brought the case back to Federal Court. Holy Man offers a rare glimpse into the mysterious world of Lakota religion, their intimate connection to the land, and a provocative expose of the systemic injustice that Native Americans face in the criminal justice system. Written by
A powerful marathon message presented at a walking pace
After the powerful impact of seeing it in the theater, I've come back to an equilibrium, and have a reasoned response. You can decide I'm a unsympathetic idiot, but the fact that I have opinions after having the opportunity to view this film, I do think speaks well of the success of the film's creators delivering their message.
I would certainly recommend the film to the curious, and to people I know, who like myself, are fond of American Indian heritage, but are understandably naive. My opinion would not be altogether favorable. But it would only be on two points.
Slow. Yes, much is presented that is beautiful. However, if a PBS station were to air it during a pledge drive, they'd have plenty of opportunity to make the pace of telling the story that much more excruciating. I found the repetitive use of the empty White home troublesome, as part of the established detractors of Pine Ridge was stated to be lack of available housing. Now, if the film's creators wanted to point out that the house was somehow within the jaws of the non-moving gears of bureaucracy, that might have added to the prevailing bent of the film, or be a topic for another movie altogether.
While I did come away with a tarnished view of any government's misdeeds, I wonder if the story of Douglas White tells the story he wanted to be told? That was where I was both struck with anguish and shaking my head by the end. It is masterfully created propaganda. I believe Russell Means has had clear-minded things to say in his time, but what gets presented in this documentary is all a bit on the scary-side, meaning it's a shame they couldn't have just used the strongest points he had to make. (Welcome to the Reservation!) Walkinbird Docuweek (L.A.) attendee
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