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Tuesday, July 15, 2008

indieWIRE interview with The Exiles presenters

From the iW interview with Charles Burnett and Sherman Alexie, regarding Kent Mackenzie's 1961 film The Exiles:

"iW: Sherman, do you think "The Exiles" avoids the common American Indian stereotypes?

SA: Yeah, nobody has any magical spiritual powers. They're just regular folks. They could have come out of a John Cassavettes movie. That's one of the revelations of the film. It seems so funny to me to be talking about revelations in a film that's forty years old. I think one of the issues is that for many of the filmmakers, because we have so few opportunities, we try to shoehorn every possible message imaginable. In film, we don't get that many chances, so we end up making everything into a political document rather than an artistic film about people's lives. We're obsessed with politics. As an outsider, Mackenzie wasn't as obsessed with it. In that regard, being an outsider probably helped him.

CB: I think it's a question worth asking, because we asked ourselves that question in the sixties when trying to determine what a black was. Also, there's a great film called "Nothing But a Man" (directed by Michael Roemer, who was born in Germany). You can't argue that that's not a really good film. It certainly expresses, as some of the best black films, the black community. You have to look at that with an asterisk and place it somewhere very high up. I think we have the same problems. I take my cues from Sherman Alexie, and people like that, and he really likes ("The Exiles") and finds it informative. You're always going to get arguments, but what you can say is that it called my attention to issues of Native Americans in many ways."

Read more at iW.

- Sujewa

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