Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Native American Filmmaker Commingles the Apocalypse and Piikani Culture

Shooting this month on the lands of Montana's Blackfeet Nation, fantasy-adventure short Kills Last will apply a fresh perspective to a tried and true narrative setting.

Writer-director Lauren Monroe Jr. grew up on these vast Montana lands. His film imagines four Blackfeet hunters who have survived the apocalypse, 20 years in.

Monroe Jr. raised some modest funds on Indiegogo. He will shoot the film on the Blackfeet reservation and has recruited tribe members to help both in front of and behind the camera.

One especially exciting element of Kills Last is the way the Blackfeet culture will be heard as well as seen. From a recent piece in the Billings Gazette:

The dialogue is mostly in the Blackfeet or Piikani language with English subtitles. One of the film's four principal actors is Preston Spotted Eagle, a member of the Blackfeet tribe and a devout believer in his native culture and language.
"He’s well versed in our tribal customs and history, and serves as a perfect example of our culture being passed down,” Monroe Jr. said.

The film's cinematographer, Eddie Roqueta, previously worked on a series of short web profiles of local Native American artists for the Montana Film Office. An example of that work is below.

Monroe Jr. is also a co-founder of the Creative Indigenous Collective, launched in 2016 to help support and showcase emerging Native American artists. The filmmaker earned a B.A. from the University of Montana and is currently working towards an M.F.A. with the Institute of American Indian Art in Santa Fe. Kills Last marks Monroe's directorial debut.

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