‘Certain Women’ belongs to the four women at its core: Laura Dern’s fragile, exhausted stoicism, Michelle William’s neutrality laced with sharp edges, Lily Gladstone’s quietly powerful grasp of the feeling of new love, and Kristen Stewart’s almost-sweet awkwardness, are what make Certain Women worth the trip.
Check out all of the posts from our Indigenous Women theme week here.
Looking at ‘Lilo & Stitch’ can provide a valuable lens in which to analyze the upcoming ‘Moana,’ as well as other mainstream films attempting to represent Indigenous cultures. … Regardless of its individual merits, ‘Lilo & Stitch’ is a moneymaking endeavor to benefit the Disney Company, which has not always had the best relationship (to say the least) with representing Indigenous cultures or respecting Indigenous peoples.
By forcing the subconscious fears of audiences to the surface, horror cinema evokes reactions psychologically and physically — that is its power. This power can serve and support uncensored Indigenous expression by allowing Indigenous filmmakers the opportunity to unleash dark, unsanitized allegorical representations of the abhorrent, repugnant, violent abomination that is colonization.
In ‘Pocahontas,’ Disney missed an important opportunity to represent Indigenous women in a relatable, empowering way, and instead focused on commodifying their culture for mass-market appeal. … Pocahontas’ life only became a story worth telling when a white man became involved. She only became a princess when a white man recognized her as royalty. She only became the center of a Disney movie because white men realized they could profit off of her myth.
‘Kumu Hina’: Documentary on a Native Hawaiian Māhū (Transgender) Woman and Teaching the True Meaning of Aloha
‘Kumu Hina’ is a portrait of one activist working to preserve Native rights, culture, and dignity in a time when Native Sovereignty is being made more visible by events like the efforts of Water Protectors to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline. Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu draws a direct and explicit link between honoring her māhū identity and helping her people preserve their culture. Like the māhū of generations past, Wong-Kalu has taken on the responsibility of sharing sacred knowledge with the next generation. She wants to share with her students the true meaning of aloha which, to her, means giving them unconditional acceptance and respect.
Wilma Pearl Mankiller became the first modern female Chief of the Cherokee Nation in 1985 after working with volunteers from the small rural community of Bell, Oklahoma to bring water to the town. ‘The Cherokee Word for Water’ is the story of this extraordinary woman and leader whose activism on behalf of her community continues to resonate across the Cherokee Nation today.
Director Robert Flaherty not only framed Inuit womanhood according to his fantasies of casual sensuality, but according to Euro-American patriarchal fantasy. His portrait of Inuit life is neatly divided between the woman’s role, limited to cleaning igloos and nursing infants, apparently immune to the frustrations of Euro-American women in that role, and the man’s role, leading the band, educating older children, and hunting.
Whatever the other problems might be with this film (and they are many), my focus for this review is the character Tiger Lily, who was originally conceived as a racist stereotype by J.M. Barrie and who has had her Native identity completely erased in this latest iteration. Is this progress? I think not.
In the endless web of conundrums that Native peoples face, marginalization is a result of societal erasure, whether that be through stereotypes or the lack of representations all together. … With that in consideration, I seek to influence popular consciousness by analysis of horror through a Native woman’s lens. One endeavor of asserting Native presence is through my analysis of the Native thriller film, ‘Imprint.’
Over and over, violence against Indigenous women is made to titillate, built into narratives along with action, suspense, swashbuckling, and romance. Indigenous women become exotic props, and when we are identified with these dehumanized caricatures, it becomes easier to treat us inhumanely.
There is a continually growing, vibrant presence of Indigenous independent films that are often made by and star Indigenous people telling their own stories, and these stories are receiving critical acclaim. Native people across the world are participating in this movement that raises the voices and visibility of Indigenous people.