Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Byron Chief Moon: Grey Horse Rider

Monday, June 23, 7:00 pm, Roxie Theatre; BYRO23R

This program is actually three films: two documentaries and a short fiction piece.

In Two Spirits, One Journey, the fiction piece, two young men "on the rez" are carrying on a clandestine affair, but it unravels because one can't stay closeted on the rez and the other can leave neither the closet nor the reservation. (The film itself is a product of the Creative Spirit project of InterTribal Entertainment and the Southern California Indian Center, Inc. Almost the entire cast and crew are Native Americans.) The tension between the two main characters, and between one of them and his girlfriend, is palpable. Most of the (minor) flaws in the execution of the film are the result of having had only one week from start of filming, through editing, to presenting a finished product. Well done, highly recommended.

Two Spirits, One Journey, dir. Arthur Allan Seidelman, 2007 USA 18 min., in English (with one scene in Lakota with English subtitles)

In traditional Native American culture, two-spirits (people who had both the spirit of a man and the spirit of a woman) and others who were different, were seen as spiritually gifted, made that way by the Creator for a reason and therefore honored and revered. With the imposition of Christianity, those traditions have been buried and spurned. Now a few Natives are trying to revive the old ways and re-educate their people on their own history and culture. In Two Spirits, we get a glimpse into the life of Joey Criddle, a Boulder, Colorado, two-spirit activist, including his return to his home town of Pontotoc, Mississippi, for his son's wedding. Joey joined the Pentecostal Church in an effort to rid himself of his homosexual desires, but finally concluded, "I couldn't have sacrificed life just to please everybody around me. I couldn't've done it." Recommended.

Two Spirits, dir. Ruth Fertig, 2007 USA, 22 min.

Byron Chief Moon is a two-spirit, also known as a walks-between. He walks between urban and rural, reservation and non-reservation, Native and non-Native, traditional and modern, male and female, gay and straight, and Blackfoot and Cree. In his professional life, he is a dancer, but he and his husband are raising a child, and he remains involved in tribal life even though he has moved from rural southern Alberta to Vancouver, B.C. In Byron Chief Moon: Grey Horse Rider, we see how Byron walks — and dances — through life. We also see his connection to the past — Grey Horse Rider is an ancestral name bestowed upon him by the Chief-Moon clan in a special ceremony we get to witness — as well as his connection to the earth and to his family. Highly recommended.

Byron Chief Moon: Grey Horse Rider, dir. Marlene Millar and Philip Szporer, 2007 Canada 48 min.

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