February 15, 2010

Welch's book to become movie

‘Winter in the Blood’ reimagined:  Work of renowned Native writer will become movie

By Jamie KellyJames Welch, who was Blackfeet and Gros Ventre, and also Irish, died of a heart attack at the age of 62 in 2003. His work was lauded by critics the world over as deeply resonant not only of the Indian culture about which he wrote, but of all people.

“Winter in the Blood,” released in 1974, got its highest praise from the New York Times Book Review, easily the standard-bearer of literary criticism in the country.

Shortly afterward, the novel was “optioned” by a film agency that sought to turn it into a motion picture.

Trouble is, it never happened.

But it has a second chance now.

Filmmakers Alex and Andrew Smith, directors and producers of the independent film “The Slaughter Rule” (2002) are currently working on turning the 200-page novel into a motion picture, one that will be filmed entirely in Montana, featuring a large cast of American Indians.
Indian Country casting call:  Auditions continue today for Montana production

By Jamie KellyWord spread like wildfire across Indian Country when the call went out for actors and extras for “Winter in the Blood.”

It was just a month ago that the notice was published in newspapers and Web sites across the Northwest. On Saturday, hundreds of Natives packed a third-floor wing of the University of Montana’s University Center to audition for parts large and small in the upcoming production, set to begin filming this summer.
And:The casting crew consisted of directors Alex and Andrew Smith, who are intent on making a movie out of Indian writer James Welch’s celebrated novel about the realities of reservation life.

In the first hour alone, 100 applications were completed, and 90 minutes into the scheduled four-hour process, No. 12 had just left the audition room.
Comment:  A hundred applicants in the first hour? So much for claims that it's impossible to find Native actors.

The trick is to actually look for them. And not to sit in your plush Hollywood office waiting for them to show up.

In short, these filmmakers aren't offering bogus arguments about how they have to cast non-Natives as Natives to finance the movie. Good for them.

Anyway, I haven't read Winter in the Blood, but I have read Welch's The Indian Lawyer and Killing Custer. Both were very good.

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

Below:  "Perry Lilley Sr. has his measurements taken by Yuan Hua Saturday at the University of Montana for a possible role in an upcoming film based on the book “Winter in the Blood” by the late Missoula writer James Welch." (Michael Gallacher/Missoulian)

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