Red Crow Mi'g Maq reservation, 1976: By government decree, every Indian child under the age of 16 must attend residential school. In the kingdom of the Crow, that meansimprisonment at St. Dymphna's. That means being at the mercy of "Popper", the sadistic Indian agent who runs the school.
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Red Crow Mi'g Maq reservation, 1976: By government decree, every Indian child under the age of 16 must attend residential school. In the kingdom of the Crow, that meansimprisonment at St. Dymphna's. That means being at the mercy of "Popper", the sadistic Indian agent who runs the school. At 15, Aila is the weed princess of Red Crow. Hustling with her uncle Burner, she sells enough dope to pay Popper her "truancy tax", keeping her out of St. Ds. But when Aila's drug money is stolen and her father Joseph returns from prison, the precarious balance of Aila's world is destroyed. Her only options are to run or fight... and Mi'gMaq don't run. Written by
It has a flaw or two, but this debut feature from Native Canadian Jeff Barnaby is very, very good. Think "Mean Streets" meets "Dance Me Outside" with a little bit of magic realism sprinkled in, and you'll get a sense of how this film works. It's probably the best First Nations film I've seen since "Smoke Signals," back in 1998.
"Rhymes for Young Ghouls" follows the story of Aila, a parent-less teenage girl living on a Mi'kmaq reservation in Canada during the 1970s. To help make ends meet, she sells marijuana with her uncle to the local pot smokers on the reserve. This draws the attention of Popper, a sociopathic federal Native Agent who takes much pleasure in tormenting and beating Mi'kmaq people like Aila and her friends. Nobody can sell marijuana on the reserve unless Popper gets his cut of the profits.
Much of the film plays like a dark visual poem, and the imagery and cinematography are very strong. Barnaby lifts some of his imagery and ideas from Mi'kmaq culture, pop culture, horror movies, and what is probably personal experience from growing up on a reservation himself.
"Rhymes for Young Ghouls" gets a big thumbs up from me. This is an impressive debut feature film, and I look forward to seeing Mr. Barnaby's future projects.
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