Georgina Lightning’s “Older than America” is a tragedy about an Indian boarding school and its abuses. The setting is a modern American reservation rife with small-town politics.
But audiences here were certainly willing to suspend disbelief, to brush off realism, in order to take in the symbolic content of the film. Earthquakes, in this world, are the earth trembling in response to violation. That could happen anywhere, and it’s not tectonic plates that make it happen.
It’s an immensely moving moment. The audience, many of whose parents and grandparents had experienced the kind of abusive treatment laid bare in the film, openly wept.
True, some viewers could've infer this explanation, but many of them wouldn't. It's probably best to make something like this explicit rather than implicit. Otherwise people like me will say, "No earthquakes in Minnesota...plot contrivance."
For more movie reviews, see The Best Indian Movies.