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How Indigenous Cinema is Conquering Hollywood

March 7, 2024

While indigenous actors have been a part of Hollywood since the silent movie era, they have mostly been cast as savages and villains. Now, a new generation of indigenous filmmakers is taking over the big screen.

Cannes Filmfestival 2023 - Killers of the Flower Moon Filmszene
Image: Melinda Sue Gordon/dpa/picture alliance

Hollywood mostly portrays indigenous characters as savages. Indigenous filmmakers are changing that. It has taken its time, but slowly the way in which indigenous characters and their histories are portrayed is changing.

There is now a young generation of young filmmakers who are showing their history as they see fit on the big screen. They are creating authentic cinema that both confronts historical crimes and shows the future of the world of indigenous storytelling, in Hollywood and around the world. This future they show is different, more complex, and more true.

Martin Scorsese

Legendary director Martin Scorsese has also recently tackled indigenous history with ‘Killers of the Flower Moon’, a 200 million dollar epic set in 1920s Oklahoma. The movie tells the story of a series of murders committed by white men against Osage Native Americans. To research the film Scorsese visited Osage country for the first  time, and took advice from the people there.



USA Robert De Niro
Image: Thierry Carpico/ATP/picture alliance

Lily Gladstone won a Golden Globe for best actress in ‘Killers of the Flower Moon’. She spoke in the Blackfoot language in her acceptance speech, marking a proud premiere.

Today there are finally indigenous characters on our screens that are authentic, complex, crazy, tough, contradictory and hilarious. The era of two-dimensional Indigenous villains can be consigned to the past. The onus is on Hollywood and cinemas to help Indigenous artists tell their own stories in the future.



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