Clint East­wood told ‘In­dian Horse’ di­rec­tor: ‘Peo­ple need to see this movie’

Sherbrooke Record - - TALK - By Vic­to­ria Ahearn THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

When Cana­dian di­rec­tor Stephen S. Cam­pan­elli showed his new film “In­dian Horse” to his men­tor, Clint East­wood, the four-time Os­car win­ner was in dis­be­lief.

In the­atres Friday, the drama is based on late Cana­dian au­thor Richard Wagamese’s ac­claimed novel, about an Ojibwe res­i­den­tial school sur­vivor who faces racism and sys­temic bar­ri­ers as he be­comes a for­mi­da­ble hockey player.

The story gives an un­var­nished look at the bru­tal his­tory of the res­i­den­tial school sys­tem in Canada, and East­wood was floored.

“He didn’t be­lieve it,” Cam­pan­elli, who grew up in Mon­treal and lives in Cal­i­for­nia, re­called in an in­ter­view at last Septem­ber’s Toronto In­ter­na­tional Film Festival.

“He was like, ‘What? You Cana­di­ans did this?’ I said, ‘Yeah, be­lieve it or not.’ He said, ‘How come no one knows about this?’ I said, ‘Well, they will soon.”’

East­wood then signed on as an ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer to help pro­mote the film.

“He says, ‘Peo­ple need to see this movie,”’ re­called Cam­pan­elli, who has been work­ing with East­wood as a cam­era op­er­a­tor for over 20 years.

Cana­di­ans Sladen Peltier and Ajuawak Ka­pash­e­sit, along with Amer­i­can ac­tor For­rest Good­luck, por­tray pro­tag­o­nist Saul In­dian Horse at three dif­fer­ent stages of his life.

The story spans 30 years as it fol­lows the har­row­ing jour­ney of Saul’s fam­ily and his ex­pe­ri­ences in the late 1950s at an On­tario Catholic res­i­den­tial school, where stu­dents faced abuse and were forced to aban­don their own lan­guage and cul­ture.

Saul teaches him­self to play hockey and moves up in the ranks of the sport, but af­ter a string of racist at­tacks against him, he gives up and has to con­front his painful past.

“I think a film like this will ac­tu­ally help a lot of peo­ple un­der­stand, be­cause it doesn’t re­ally pull a lot of punches but it is still very cin­e­matic,” said Ka­pash­e­sit, who is of Ojibwe and Cree her­itage and was born in Moose Fac­tory, Ont.

“I think this film is go­ing to open up the flood­gates of truths in terms of the his­tory of this con­ti­nent,” added Good­luck, who is a mem­ber of the Dine, Man­dan, Hi­datsa and Tsimshian tribes and is based in Albuquerque, N.M.

Den­nis Foon wrote the script for the film, which was shot in chilly win­ter tem­per­a­tures and on rough ter­rain in Sud­bury, Ont., and Peter­bor­ough, Ont.

The char­ac­ters speak the Ojibwe lan­guage, which is trans­lated in sub­ti­tles.

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