Arnold rescued Thomas from a fire when he was a child. Thomas thinks of Arnold as a hero, while Arnold's son Victor resents his father's alcoholism, violence and abandonment of his family.

Director:

Chris Eyre

Writers:

Sherman Alexie (book), Sherman Alexie (screenplay)
12 wins & 8 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Adam Beach ... Victor Joseph
Evan Adams ... Thomas Builds-the-Fire
Irene Bedard ... Suzy Song
Gary Farmer ... Arnold Joseph
Tantoo Cardinal ... Arlene Joseph
Cody Lightning ... Young Victor Joseph
Simon Baker ... Young Thomas Builds-the-Fire
Monique Mojica Monique Mojica ... Grandma Builds-the-Fire
John Trudell ... Randy Peone
Chief Leonard George Chief Leonard George ... Lester Fallsapart (as Leonard George)
Michael Greyeyes ... Junior Polatkin
Darwin Haine ... Boo
Michelle St. John ... Velma
Elaine Miles ... Lucy
Cynthia Geary ... Cathy the Gymnast
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Storyline

Young Native American man Thomas is a nerd in his reservation, wearing oversize glasses and telling everyone stories no-one wants to hear. His parents died in a fire in 1976, and Thomas was saved by Arnold. Arnold soon left his family (and his tough son Victor), and Victor hasn't seen his father for 10 years. When Victor hears Arnold has died, Thomas offers him funding for the trip to get Arnold's remains, but only if Thomas can also go with him. Thomas and Victor hit the road.

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

A new film from the heart of Native America.

Genres:

Comedy | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for some intense images | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Includes two former cast members of TV's "Northern Exposure" - Elaine Miles, and Cynthia Geary. See more »

Goofs

When Thomas offers Victor money to help get him to Phoenix, his braids change position. In one shot, they are both in front. In the next shot, his right braid is over his shoulder. This repeats several times. See more »

Quotes

Thomas Builds-the-Fire: Sometimes it's a good day to die, and sometimes it's a good day to have breakfast.
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Crazy Credits

Any similarity to actual persons, living, dead, or indigenous, is purely coincidental. See more »


Soundtracks

Father and Farther
(1995)
Written and Performed by Jim Boyd
Lyrics by Sherman Alexie
Courtesy of Thunderwolf Records
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User Reviews

Deep, affirming film
21 February 1999 | by KurzbeinSee all my reviews

Despite Leonard Maltin's comment that Smoke Signals is "basically unexciting film-making," I found this movie deeply spiritual without being heavy-handed. The aspect of the film that captured my interest and has stayed with me is the story-telling of Thomas. The stories mingle simple, real-life recollections with fantasy, and the voice of Thomas subtly gives the movie a transcendent quality. Thomas is a modern-day medicine man, grounded in reality yet open to possibilities. He marvels at the beauty of the creation that surrounds him and dreams of what new wonders the future might bring. He is hope.

I intend to view this film many more times. It deals with tragedy without being tragic. It recognizes the sometimes brutal facts of reality without allowing brutality to define. It reveals sadness but not as an end in and of itself. It asks questions but leaves the answers to the viewer. And it affirms that there are answers and hope.


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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

27 November 1998 (Iceland) See more »

Also Known As:

This Is What It Means to Say Phoenix, Arizona See more »

Filming Locations:

Idaho, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$2,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$43,574, 28 June 1998

Gross USA:

$6,745,362

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$6,745,362
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

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