DVD The Exiles (DVD 6241100),
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The Exiles

  • NR
  • DVD
  • 1 disc
  • Region 1 USA/CA (info)
  • Beginning with a budget of $539 and taking three years to complete, THE EXILES, which premiered at the Venice Film Festival in 1961, finally got its official theatrical release in July 2008 after being restored by Ross Lipman and the UCLA Film and Television Archive, which previously restored Charles Burnett's 1977 drama, KILLER OF SHEEP. Writer, director, and producer Kent Mackenzie set the film in the Bunker Hill section of downtown Los Angeles, which was undergoing a major -- and controversial -- redevelopment project in the 1950s and 1960s. THE EXILES centers on a group of American Indians who moved from the reservation to the big city, where they dream of a better life. Over the course of one night, Homer (Homer Nish), his pregnant wife, Yvonne (Yvonne Williams), and one of Homer's best friends, Tommy (Tommy Reynolds), talk about their lives in voice-over narration -- which came from actual interviews Mackenzie conducted with the nonprofessional actors -- as they ponder their individual plights as well as that of their close-knit community of Indians. After dropping the pregnant Yvonne off at a double feature, Homer and his buddies head out drinking and gambling, getting into a bar fight, and participating in traditional chanting and dancing atop Hill X. Mackenzie worked closely with the actors on the loose script, seeking to make it both realistic and believable, resulting in a cinema verite work that at times feels like a documentary, reminiscent of films by Robert Flaherty, George Stoney, and John Cassavetes. Shot in black and white and beautifully restored, THE EXILES is both a poignant drama and a fascinating document of changing times in L.A. as a growing group of Indians attempts to find their place in American society. The lively soundtrack features songs by Anthony Hilder and the Revels.
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  • Credits
    Homer Nish, Yvonne Williams, Clifford Ray Sam, Tommy Reynolds, Mary Donahue, Clydean Parker, Rico Rodriguez
  • Critic Reviews
    "[A] ghostly and startling tale of Native Americans in Los Angeles -- a fusion of documentary and fiction....The L.A. images are like Weegee photographs come to life." -- Grade: A-
    Entertainment Weekly

    "One of the key attractions of this lost and legendary Los Angeles documentary, unseen in nearly 50 years, is its luminous black-and-white photography..."
    Los Angeles Times

    4 stars out of 5 -- "Mackenzie's raw, intensely atmospheric film documents 12 hours in the lives of a group of Native Americans living in LA."
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