When a filmmaker's directorial debut is as noteworthy and successful as Chris Eyre's 1998 award-winning Smoke Signals, it raises a high level of expectation for his next project as well as some trepidation.
The sophomore slump is as common to film careers as other endeavors. So it's a great pleasure to declare that Eyre avoids the usual pitfalls with Skins, a moving, often humorous, and finely accomplished story of two brothers living on the isolated Pine Ridge Reservation.
One hundred years after the massacre of 300 mostly women and children at Wounded Knee by the Seventh Cavalry, an act of "heroism" that merited Congressional Medals of Honor, Rudy Yellowshirt is an investigator with the police department and witnesses firsthand the painful legacy of Indian existence.
Although rampant unemployment, alcoholism, and domestic violence are the norm for many "rez" inhabitants, Rudy has largely escaped this cycle of despair.
His brother Mogie, however, has not. Now faced with the discovery of a bloodied body, a flaming liquor store just off native land that sells millions of cans of beer a year to the native population, and his brother's ongoing self-destruction, Rudy goes on a quest to avenge himself, his family, and his culture and to seek justice.
Eyre doesn't simplify life to make points, and this beautifully rendered adaptation is full of truth and drama, pain and activism, along with details of native life, spirit, and myth. Fueled by powerful performances and superb production values, Skins is bold, honest, and admirable.
U.S.A., 2001, 84 Minutes, Color
Director: Chris Eyre
Executive Producers: David Pomier, Chris Cooney, Jeff Cooney
Producer: Jon Kilik
Screenwriter: Jennifer D. Lyne, based on the book by Adrian C. Lewis
Production Designer: Debbie De Villa
Music: Bruce Springsteen, Robbie Robertson, Neil Young
Principal Cast: Graham Greene, Eric Schweig, Nathaniel Arcand, Michelle Thrush
AUTHOR: Geoffrey Gilmore
Sundance Film Festival
The Sundance Film Festival was founded by Robert Redford and dedicated to the development of artists of independent vision and the exhibition of their new work. The Sundance Institute celebrated its 20th Anniversary in 2001.
In 1981 Robert Redford gathered a group of colleagues and friends at Sundance, Utah to discuss new ways to enhance the artistic vitality of the American film.
The result was the establishment of the Sundance Institute, dedicated to the support and development of emerging screenwriters and directors of vision, and to the national and international exhibition of new, independent dramatic and documentary films.