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Pow Wow

Directed by Robinson Devor
United States, 2016
Documentary

Synopsis

Using modern-day characters to illuminate an infamous 1908 manhunt for Willie Boy, a Native American who outran a mounted posse on foot across 500 miles of desert in the Coachella Valley, Pow Wow presents individuals that have, in many ways, utilized the desert to survive and run free.

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Pow Wow Directed by Robinson Devor
Sometimes this interference takes on a certain grandeur, as in the sequence that shows the vast irrigation system that brings water to the desert community. Other times civilization just appears banal and tasteless, as when some of the wealthy suburbanites cruise around complacently in designer golf carts. In both cases one senses a distance from the exciting history that some of the interviewees describe, making Pow Wow a film about empty spaces in more ways than one.
February 16, 2018
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It’s casual and discursive, almost to a fault. The film is organized with cryptic chapter headings—“Warfare,” “Transition Zones,” “Dream Voyages”—that imply certain narrative movements that don’t always pan out, and if the line of thought starts to drift, Devor uses the words of a historian, rephrased throughout the film, as a cover: "There’s an associative power to time…this constant dialogue of the past and the present about the future.
January 18, 2018
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Sean Kirby’s cinematography looks deeply into faces and landscapes alike, examining domestic life and outdoor leisure, subterranean waterworks and high-tech fences, majestic vistas and plasticized suburbs with a rapt and avid eye. Adam Sekuler edits with a quietly lacerating wit, and Devor, calmly winning the participants’ confidence, sets the movie’s tone with a sardonic sequence in a perversely oblivious country-club party of Native American inspiration.
January 12, 2018
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