By Admin | January 26, 2005

This year, Sundance has removed the long-existing, if not popular, Native Forum category, which promoted dialogue between indigenous people and the contemporary governments of their land. While it was—and still is—important to encourage creativity in various native communities, some of the films in selections displayed less experience and training in craft and were selected from a smaller pool of applicants. The programmers have still included several films produced by and related to indigenous tribes, including “5th World” in the American Spectrum category.

The film is a promising but ultimately clunky debut by Blackhorse Lowe, who aims toward an ambitious poetic meditation on life but fails due to low-quality digital photography that clashes with the film’s style and some pacing mistakes. The movie follows the love story of two young Navajo adults who hitchhike home to their reservation together. They bond over their heritage and love for music and movies while seeing the beautiful landscapes of their area. They both see their American Indian heritage with some warmth and some frustration, and it leads in very unexpected—and somewhat nonsensical to those foreign to the culture, despite a foreshadowing monologue—directions by the film’s conclusion.

The problem with “5th World” is that the long takes don’t have the magical quality they attempt to achieve, and awkward acting and editing undercut any grace. Lowe clearly has the potential to make a good film, as seen in an opening sequence combining old photos and interesting sound design and some other montages, be he hasn’t quite made it yet.

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