Native films in spotlight

One of the nation's busiest and best-known American Indian actors will be in Lawrence this weekend for the Stories 'N Motion Film Festival at Haskell Indian Nations University.

Wes Studi, 58, played the villain, Magua, in "The Last of the Mohicans," Detective Casals in "Heat," Geronimo in "Geronimo: An American Legend" and the sphinx character in "Mystery Men."

He was in Kevin Costner's "Dances with Wolves" and Oliver Stone's "The Doors." His credits include parts in 20 movies and at least 15 appearances in television movies or series.

"The fact that he's coming to Haskell is a really big deal," said Nicholas Wilder, a junior at Haskell and one of the festival's organizers.

Studi will lead a symposium on American Indians in film at 6:30 p.m. Friday at Haskell Auditorium.

Plans call for showing one of Studi's films during the symposium, though on Monday it was unclear which movie would be shown. Both the film and symposium are free and open to the public.

Gary Farmer, a well-known character actor, will lead a similar session at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the auditorium.

Farmer, 52, played the elder Arnold Joseph in "Smoke Signals" and one of the lead roles in "Powwow Highway."

"Those are both big movies in Indian Country," said Manny Manzani, a senior at Haskell and president of the film club.

Farmer, who lives in Canada, also had a leading role in "Dead Man," a 1995 film starring Johnny Depp.


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Wes Studi, a prominent American Indian actor, will appear this week at Haskell Indian Nations University.

He has appeared in dozens of television shows, including "West Wing" and "Miami Vice," and in more than 20 movies.

For his symposium, Farmer plans on showing "One Dead Indian," a 2006 made-for-TV docudrama on the Ontario Provincial Police's handling of a protest over rights to a burial ground.

"We are honored to have both Gary Farmer and Wes Studi coming to Haskell," Manzani said.

Now in its second year, the film festival strives to call attention to American Indians' past and future roles in film.

"Even though we've been here the longest, it seems like our art always gets recognized last," Manzani said.

Still, he said, "it's only natural, since so much of our culture is storyteller-based, that we learn new mediums to tell our stories."

In the past, American Indian roles in movies have fed a long list of troubling stereotypes that only now are rectified, Manzani said.

"That's one of the reasons we're so excited about getting Gary Farmer and Wes Studi," he said. "In 'Heat,' (Studi) plays one of the detectives, but there's never any mention that he's Indian.

"In other words, we're finally getting to the point where Indian actors can play regular people with regular jobs," he said. "We don't always have to be bow-and-arrow, horse-riding warriors."

Last year's festival packed Liberty Hall for an appearance by actor Rick Schroder, who fielded questions from the audience after showing "Black Cloud," a film he wrote, directed and acted in.

Sponsors for this year's festival include the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation, American Indian College Fund, Allstate Insurance, KKFI-FM 90.1, and money raised during a New Year's Eve event put on by George Tiger, a member of the Haskell Board of Regents.

Festival schedule

The Stories 'N Motion 2nd Annual Film Festival will take place Thursday through Saturday at Haskell Indian Nations University. Guest stars will be native actors Wes Studi (Cherokee) and Gary Farmer (Cayuga).

Thursday: Symposium and film with Gary Farmer, 6:30 p.m., Haskell Auditorium.

Friday: Symposium and film with Wes Studi, 6:30 p.m., Haskell Auditorium.

Saturday: Noon-6 p.m., Showcasing of American Indian films including: "Riding with Ghosts," "Fortune Cookie," "In Whose Honor," "Trudell" and more.

All speeches and film screenings are free and open to the public.


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