When director Dan Girmus chose to make a documentary about the people of Pine Ridge in South Dakota, he was determined not to go down the clichéd route by focussing purely on the fact that Pine Ridge (one of the 326 territories returned to the Native American communities in the United States), is also known as one of the poorest.
Instead he pointed his lens on the day to day life of families living on the reservation: there are weddings, births, fourth of July celebrations, rodeos, lessons in classrooms, traditional ceremonies, people having tattoos, council meetings and in the background, the local radio station plays a mixture of music and gives advice to listeners, from the importance of having I.D with them when they pick up medicine from pharmacies to upcoming local events.
In this film Oyate, Girmus has achieved his objective, this is a sensitively shot film and it brought the world of big skies, American landscapes and people of Pine Ridge U.S.A to a fascinated Nyon audience on Wednesday afternoon. In the debate after the film questions were asked about the current U.S government’s attitude to the Native American people, the North Dakota pipeline situation, the learning of the local language on the reservation and the state of the local education system.
As a first film, Oyate is an excellent one and Living in Nyon looks forward to more work by this director. There will be one more screening at 12:00 on Thursday 27th at 12:00 at the Capitole Fellini. See trailer below