TRUDELL ( Heather Rae ) Rating: NNN
Closing out this year's ImagineNative festival is this documentary about former American Indian Movement chair John Trudell.
After taking over Alcatraz prison in 1969, Trudell became a prominent voice for native rights in the 70s and went on to make a series of spoken word albums that were lauded by artists like Bob Dylan and Bonnie Raitt.
The film traces his rise to national prominence (and his expanding FBI file) along with seminal moments in the Native American civil rights movement: the sit-in at the Department of Indian Affairs in 1972, the 71-day siege at Wounded Knee in 1973, the 1975 shootout at Pine Ridge, South Dakota, that put Leonard Peltier behind bars. There are interviews with Trudell's fellow activists and famous friends, like Raitt, Robert Redford and Val Kilmer.
So far quite gripping, and an interesting history lesson for those who may have forgotten this chapter of the American civil rights movement. But when the film moves on to Trudell's musical output, it loses some of its steam. The music is put to good use throughout the first two-thirds of the film as Rae intersperses relevant poems with the personal and political story. But Trudell the artist is a letdown after Trudell the firebrand, and only a few final words from the man himself can rekindle the film's initial energy.
(Al Green Theatre, October 23)