WASHINGTON - "A Thousand Roads," the Smithsonian's National Museum of the
American Indian's new signature film, had its first public screening April
10. The film first premiered on Jan. 22 at the Sundance Film Festival in
Park City, Utah.
The 43-minute film, directed by award-winning independent filmmaker Chris
Eyre, Cheyenne/Arapaho, is a fictional work that follows the lives of four
contemporary American Indians as they confront the crises that arise in a
With epic-sized settings that include the crest of the Andes, the ice floes
of Alaska, the mesas of New Mexico and the concrete canyons of Manhattan,
"A Thousand Roads" takes viewers on a memorable Native journey.
"This signature film, like the National Museum of the American Indian
itself, needed to be a commemoration of living Native peoples and
communities," said W. Richard West Jr., Southern Cheyenne, director of the
museum and executive producer of the film. West envisioned a widescreen,
emotionally-engaging film for the museum's new surround-sound theater.
In support of West's vision, the film marks a significant collaboration of
expert filmmakers and Native advocates and artists. The Smithsonian
contracted with West Coast filmmakers Scott Garen and Barry Clark to
produce the film through Seven Arrows - Telenova Productions, in
association with Peter Guber's Mandalay Media Arts.
Eyre was immediately attracted to the vision behind the script. "It's a
little film with a lot of heart - a prayer to Native people," he said.
Eyre's debut feature film, "Smoke Signals," won the Sundance Film Festival
Audience Award and Filmmaker's Trophy. His film, "Edge of America," was the
opening night selection at last year's festival.
"A Thousand Roads" was created by Garen and poet and performer Joy Harjo.
Garen and Harjo developed an unconventional blend of Native characters: a
Mohawk stockbroker, "hunting" in the steel and glass canyons of Manhattan;
a young Inupiat girl, journeying to a new life in Barrow, Alaska; a Navajo
gang member, tending sheep alone on the mesas of New Mexico; and a Quechuan
healer who journeys across the Sacred Valley of the Incas in an attempt to
save a sickchild.
The film includes performances by American Indian actors Alex Rice,
Geraldine Keams and Jeremiah Bitsui. Together with non-actors from each
tribal region depicted in the film, they create vivid characters embracing
the wide diversity and vitality of contemporary Native life. Native poet,
activist and performer John Trudell narrates their journeys, drawing
strength from their tribal past, to transcend the challenges of the day and
embrace the promises that await them.
Director of photography Claudio Miranda was selected to capture the
epic-sized landscapes seen in "A Thousand Roads" in wide-screen Super 35mm,
an ideal medium to convey the connection of First People to the land.
Australian composer and singer Lisa Gerrard ("Whale Rider" and "Gladiator")
joined Los Angeles-based composer Jeff Rona ("Traffic" and "Black Hawk
Down") to create an expansive, symphonic score that includes performances
by drummers, a cappella trio Ulali and flutists R. Carlos Nakai and Douglas