February 01, 2011

Preview of Moonhair

'Moonhair' first U.S. movie with all Indian castAt book signings for his story "Shoot Minnie Shoot" about the 1904 Fort Shaw basketball team, Jack "Happy" Feder was thanked time and again for portraying Native Americans in a positive light.

The comments inspired him to write a mythic adventure movie set during the Dog Days, but told in a modern-style to appeal to today's teens.

Once complete, "Moonhair" will be the first American movie with an all Native American cast.

"People were so tired of films and books that showed the dire side of life on a reservation," Feder said. "My goal was not to have a political message—just to have an adventure."

Inspired by traditional Native American myths, the story is an original tale of a woman with shocking white hair that carries untold powers.

Moonhair must take a fantastical and often dangerous adventure as she tries to retrieve her tribe's Singing Buffalo Stone from an evil neighboring tribe the Dung Eaters. Without the stone, the tribe can't hunt and will perish.

A trickster god creates problems for but Moonhair gets help from a man named Easy Runner whom she meets along the way.

Though neither of the tribes in the screenplay is real, Feder based much of the myth on Blackfeet history and folklore. Feder credits Harold Ernest Gray, Long Standing Bear Chief, a longtime teacher and Indian advocate.
Comment:  The first American movie with an all-Native cast? I don't think so.

Does that mean literally 100%? Not even a white character in a nonspeaking role in the background? Because I'm sure several movies have been almost totally Native.

I imagine this excludes short films and feature-length films that don't get distribution deals. Because I imagine many art-house and independent films like Two Indians Talking could meet the 100% standard. There are probably hundreds of them.

And this obviously excludes Canadian films such as The Fast Runner (Atanarjuat). And tons of Latin American films. So we're talking about a relatively modest "first" here.

But still...how about Skins? Apocalypto? Mile Post 398? Heck, how about some century-old silent movie about a tragic Native romance? I haven't seen and don't remember many movies, but I'm confident we could find an earlier film with an all-Native cast.

For more on the subject, see The Best Indian Movies.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

How about 1980's "Windwalker". Ok, Trevor Howard was the lead and the only non-native in the film, which was in the Cheyenne language. One of my favorite films of all time.