Cowboys and Indians.
A Film Works and High Definition Pie tares presentation. Produced by Jeremy Torrie, Eric Jordan. Executive producer, Paul Stephens.
Directed by Norma Bailey. Screenplay, Andrew Rai Berzins, based on the book "Cowboys and Indians: The Killing of J.J. Harper" by Gordon Sinclair Jr. Camera (color, HD), David Frazee; editor, Robert Lower; production designer, Rejean Labrie; music, Randolph Peters. Reviewed at American Indian Film Festival, San Francisco, Nov. 13, 2003. Running time: 91 MIN.
With: Adam Beach. Eric Schweig, Garry Chalk, Currie Graham, Harlan Bruyere, Jack Blum, Richard Hurst, Jonas Chernick. Paul Christie.
Cowboys and Indians" forcefully dramatizes the 1988 case that shed a most unflattering, highly public light on Canadian police treatment of Native peoples. Pic is based on tome by journo Gordon Sinclair Jr., who helped expose the departmental cover-up that ensued after unarmed Manitoba tribal leader J.J. Harper was shot to death. While occasionally heavy-handed, docudrama tells an absorbing tale that will attract select fest, educational and offshore broadcast outlets.
Excellent opening sequence maps out crossing paths of various joyriding Native kids, patrolling of. fleers and Harper late one winter night in Winnipeg. Latter (Adam Beach) had declined a ride from brother Harry (Eric Schweig) to walk home from a bar. Cops were chasing the joyriding youths (who crashed their vehicle and fled on foot). Constable Robert Cross (Currie Graham) stopped Harper for questioning; he later claimed a belligerent Harper was shot in struggle for Cross' gun. But mishandled death-scene evidence, a biased police inquest, alteration of witness statements, and Cross' own subsequent behavior (he died of complications Dora alcoholism) suggested a different scenario. Somewhat crude depiction of Cross and fellow officers' loutishness is only debit in solid package's mix.