June 17, 2023

Noelani Auguston

Children of the Setting Sun Presents 25th Anniversary of “Smoke Signals” Screening and Celebration

The silver screening and celebration of “Smoke Signals” rides to the Mount Baker Theater on Friday, July 14.

"It's a good day to be Indigenous!'' the reservation radio deejay shouts to his listeners as "Smoke Signals'' opens; and indeed it is.

Groundbreaking as the first major feature film written, directed by and starring Native Americans, “Smoke Signals” has lost none of its sass and punchiness. In fact, intervening years of incursions into Indian Country by corporate coal and oil interests have only added new layers of poignancy to the film’s dry, wry commentary on contemporary Indian culture.

“Smoke Signals” was written by Spokane novelist Sherman Alexie, based on stories from his book "The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven." The film was directed by Chris Eyre, a Cheyenne from Klamath Falls, Ore., with an ear to the rhythms of Alexie’s plainspoken dialogue.

Alexie will introduce the film at its 25th anniversary screening at the Mount Baker Theatre.

“There's a particular satisfaction in listening to people talk about what they know well and care about,” acclaimed critic Roger Ebert said in praise of the film on its initial release in 1998. “The subject isn't as important as the feeling. Listen to them… you will sense what they know about the world.”

Beautiful in its plain narrative and easygoing humor, "Smoke Signals" is, at heart, about the meaning of family and connections. It is also a heck of a road trip.

About the screening:

What: Children of the Setting Sun Productions presents the 25th Anniversary of “Smoke Signals” Screening and Celebration

When: July 14, 2023

Where: Mount Baker Theater, 104 North Commercial Street Bellingham, WA

Ticket price: $25 General Audience or $50 VIP (include VIP Reception)

Show start time: 6:00pm

Door Time: 5:30pm

More: Screening of film includes Salish ceremonial opening and closing, introduction by screenwriter Sherman Alexie, and a costume contest. VIP reception to follow.

About the film:

On the Coeur d'Alene Reservation, nothing ever changes—until the estranged father of Victor Joseph bites the dust in Arizona and Victor is tasked with collecting the cremated remains. Victor can't afford the bus fare, but awkward nerd Thomas Builds-the-Fire will float Victor a loan if Thomas can tag along. This tale of self-discovery is based on acclaimed author Sherman Alexie's 1993 collection of interwoven short stories, The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven.

About Sherman Alexie:

Sherman Joseph Alexie Jr. is a Spokane-Coeur d'Alene-Native American novelist, short story writer, poet, screenwriter, and filmmaker. His writings draw on his experiences as an Indigenous American with ancestry from several tribes. He grew up on the Spokane Indian Reservation and now lives in Seattle, Washington.

His best-known book is The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven (1993), a collection of short stories. It was adapted as the film Smoke Signals (1998), for which he also wrote the screenplay.

About Children of the Setting Sun Productions:

Children of the Setting Sun Productions creates and shares Indigenous stories of gratitude, generosity and respect. We seek to empower the minds and hearts of future generations. Darrell Hillaire is executive director of CSSP, leading projects based upon relationships with elders and community leaders regionally and nationally.

        We acknowledge that Whatcom County is located on the unceded territory of the Coast Salish Peoples. They cared for the lands that included what we’d call the Puget Sound region, Vancouver Island and British Columbia since time immemorial. This gives us the great obligation and opportunity to learn how to care for our surrounding areas and all the natural and human resources we require to live. We express our deepest respect and gratitude for our indigenous neighbors, the Lummi Nation and Nooksack Tribe, for their enduring care and protection of our shared lands and waterways.
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