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Time swims: modern country-clubbers celebrate an annual Pow Wow party while a 1908 mounted posse chases Willie Boy across the desert.

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Time swims: modern country-clubbers celebrate an annual Pow Wow party while a 1908 mounted posse chases Willie Boy across the desert.

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19 January 2017 (USA)  »

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POW WOW: "ETHNOGRAPHING" SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA
12 April 2018 | by See all my reviews

Devor is known for making documentaries on obscure themes and this one was made between 2010 to 2015. It looks at the complex situation of Coachella, an area on the outskirts of Palm Springs, California, a historic site where White cowboys went on a 100 mile desert manhunt for a Native American, or Chemehuevi-Paiute as stated in its synopsis.

The death of "Willie Boy" has become a recurring symbol for Southwestern White men contributing to the "Wild West" fantasy. Devor's film explores what the desert area is now, a present day country club home to an upper class and super rich white "gated" community. The surreal imagery depicts their lifestyles side by side with the outer ridge people's everyday concerns like the working class Paiute tribal members. It showcases the balance of class, identity and race via a multi-perspective on the meaning of "stolen land" versus a Native American understanding of land exposing the truth, the "real estate" value of Coachella's main area, its country club!

Some of the most bizarre, but humorous scenes includes the country club's "Pow Wow" annual event with mostly White couples racing across the golf course in motor carts with Indian headdresses and men dressed up as modern cowboys. They are partying, getting drunk amidst a night sky of fireworks and bragging about their business deals and properties.

Devor uses ample references from a 1969 film, "Tell Them Willie Boy Is Here" by which starred Robert Redford, its audio/visual sources give the historic past of the area. Then some of the Native American history being told by a white "enlightened" cowboy, who comes off more of a novice than an actual historian.

This documentary sets it back about 100 years in trying to produce an "ethnographic" portrait of Coachella's current residents which feels a bit tragic for Pauite people, as a jarring picture of California's bourgeoise lifestyle.


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