Canku Ota Logo

Canku Ota

Canku Ota Logo

(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


December 27, 2003 - Issue 103


pictograph divider


Eyre Film to Open Sundance


Credits: photo - Chris Eyre directs filming

Chris Eyre directs filmingWith 200 films set to unspool at America's leading showcase for independent film, a Hermosa man's movie of camaraderie, American Indian tribes and the people of Utah will open the festival.

Chris Eyre's "Edge of America" will premiere as Sundance Film Festival's opening night's film and centerpiece on Friday, Jan. 16.

Projected on the silver screen in a 1,700-seat Salt Lake City theater, Eyre will watch his most recent work with media representatives, critics and celebrities as well as Utah's Gov. Olene S. Walker, Salt Lake City Mayor Ross C. Anderson and festival founder Robert Redford.

Directed by Eyre, 34, and written by Willy Holtzman, the 106-minute film stars James McDaniel, Irene Bedard, Tim Daly and Wes Studi. The film festival runs Jan. 15-25.

In his sixth project released at Sundance, Eyre's film unfolds as a black English teacher grudgingly accepts the task of coaching an Indian girls basketball team on the Three Nations Reservation. While the girls learn the basics of the court, the coach learns from the team and the girls' tribe as well.

"It's a perfect fit," Eyre said.

Eyre, whose film "Smoke Signals" shot the then-27-year-old Southern Cheyenne-Arapaho director into the movie mainstream, said "Edge of America" represents the kind of moviemaking that embraces themes he cares about and is filled with characters that he loves. It is as close in tone and style to the Sundance Film Festival award-winning "Smoke Signals" as any movie that he has made since.

"They're the everyday people," he said.

Through what people live each day, their grace, their humor, their compassion, it all leads to real heroes, he said.

"(James McDaniel) ends up coaching a girls basketball team, but what he learns from the girls and what he gets from the community is what's interesting," Eyre said. "But it's a two-way street."

According to the Dec. 26 issue of Entertainment Weekly, "Edge of America" is one of more than 200 films to be featured at the festival. Organizers selected Eyre's film from an avalanche of nearly 6,000 films submitted for this year's festival of movies and documentaries. After the Jan. 16 premiere, "Edge of America" will be screened another six times in a variety of venues in Salt Lake City and Park City, Utah.

"I want as many people to see the movie as possible," Eyre said.

The Oregon native considers himself a lifelong filmmaker. A creative and inventive natural storyteller, Eyre envisioned his movies long before he found himself at the Sundance Institute and Film Labs in 1995.

"I called myself a director long before I had the work to show for it," he said. "I've only been paid as a director in the last six years."

Since 1998, when Eyre won Sundance's Audience Award and Filmmakers Trophy, his goal has been to put Indian people onscreen, to cultivate characters who are true to the Native people who inspire those characterizations and develop movies based on authentic stories of compassion, humor and a wealth of spirit.

"My vision is to see Indian people in television and film in wonderful roles of humanity and normalcy," he said.

That would include his work with the Public Broadcasting "Mystery" series of Tony Hillerman thrillers that feature Wes Studi and Adam Beach as Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee, respectively.

Eyre was hired by Redford to direct "Skinwalkers," the first American installment of the "Mystery" series. His next directorial turn includes "A Thief of Time," the third segment in the series. It is scheduled to be released in the coming months.

Asked if he is a favorite of Redford's, Eyre's won't say. But he points out that Redford has hired him to make two movies. Each time Eyre has worked for Redford, he has learned something from the founder of the Sundance Film Festival.

"He's a true artist," Eyre said.

pictograph divider

Home PageFront PageArchivesOur AwardsAbout Us

Kid's PageColoring BookCool LinksGuest BookEmail Us


pictograph divider

  Canku Ota is a free Newsletter celebrating Native America, its traditions and accomplishments . We do not provide subscriber or visitor names to anyone. Some articles presented in Canku Ota may contain copyright material. We have received appropriate permissions for republishing any articles. Material appearing here is distributed without profit or monetary gain to those who have expressed an interest. This is in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107.  

Canku Ota is a copyright © 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003 of Vicki Lockard and Paul Barry.

Canku Ota Logo   Canku Ota Logo

The "Canku Ota - A Newsletter Celebrating Native America" web site and its design is the

Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003 of Paul C. Barry.

All Rights Reserved.

Site Meter
Thank You

Valid HTML 4.01!