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Canku Ota

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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


September 21, 2002 - Issue 70


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Skins - The Movie

by Vicki Lockard: Editor's Note: Paul and I were honored with the opportunity to screen "Skins" and to interview Chris Eyre. Thank you Chris, Hugh Wronski, of the Landmark Theater Corp., and Gayle, of Earth Circles.
credits: First Look Pictures (C) 2002 Skins, the Movie

Rudy Yellow Lodge (Eric Schweig)Filmed on location at the Pine Ridge Reservation, "Skins" tells the story of Rudy Yellow Lodge (Eric Schweig), a reservation cop whose job includes regular encounters with his unruly but endearing brother Mogie (Graham Greene). Haunted by memories of Vietnam, the alcoholic Mogie is a source of constant challenge for Rudy, while Rudy also finds himself stepping outside the law in his determination to ensure justice on the reservation. The tragedy that unfolds leads Mogie and Rudy into deep and dark waters, where they are finally able to start healing their relationship, and the legacy of their pasts.

Speaking to us, in Minneapolis, director and co-producer Chris Eyre shared some of his insight into the movie and it's importance.

"People say that it’s a very powerful movie and its strength is that it’s universal," says Chris Eyre, who directed and co-produced "Skins" and has been presenting the film at festivals in Europe and the U.S. "Ultimately it transcends the racial sensibilities that "Skins" has and just becomes a movie about universal truths and redemption for the characters. The reception has been overwhelming and positive. That’s a testament to the fact that people are ready for Native American cinema."

"Mogie is everywhere, he's like Elvis." said Eyre. We all know a Mogie and his character goes beyond racial lines.

Another key character in the movies is Herbie, played by Noah Watts. Herbie is Mogie's son and in many ways, is more the father, than the son. But, no matter how hard Herbie's life has been, the love he has for Mogie shines through.

Graham Greene and Gary FarmerWatts says, "I didn't grow up on a reservation, so I can't say I speak for that experience, but I visit family on the Crow reservation every year, and have seen that life as an observer. Maybe this will open people's eyes to some of the hardships of the reservation, and to some of the beauty." Watts' affinity for Herbie is much more elemental. "Herbie has had a lot happen to him at an early age. He's a coming-of-age character, striving through his father's alcoholism. I've gone through some of the same losses, so I feel pretty close to him."

Eyre was attracted to making the screen version of Adrian C. Louis’ 1995 novel because of its honesty and what he calls 'a sense of itself.'

Eyre is taking "Skins" on the road in a groundbreaking "Rolling Rez" tour, offering free screenings to Indian communities before the film’s theatrical release. He is personally presenting the "Skins" screenings in an innovative mobile cinema that seats 100 in indoor comfort, with high quality projection and sound systems, not to forget a snack concession and restrooms, all offered at no cost. First Look Cinema funded the entire tour.

Chris Eyre, who directed and co-produced "Skins""The "Rolling Rez" tour was born because there’s no movie theatre in the town of Pine Ridge, and I knew I had to screen "Skins" for the community where it was made. So we began to look for ways to bring the movie to the people and came across this mobile cinema. From there we decided to take it to other reservations and urban Indian communities," said Eyre.

"Skins" is a must see movie. While much of the humor may escape mainstream audiences, the universal messages, in this film, will speak to all of us.

Note: This film may not be appropriate for young audiences.

To learn more about "Skins" and to find out which theaters will be showing it, visit:

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