Posted at 5:50 PM on March 4, 2008
by Euan Kerr
Georgina Lightning doesn't mince words.
As writer, director and lead actress in "Older than America" she is unrepentant about wanting to tell the story of the Indian boarding schools in the US and Canada, and their lasting damage on generations of native people up till the present. The schools were designed to encourage assimilation, but critics says many children were abused and even killed. The last of the schools closed in the mid 70's, but Lightning says the psychological damage they left behind has badly damaged the very fabric of Indian society.
Shot in late 2006 around Cloquet "Older than America" is a drama set on the Fond du Lac reservation. It tells the story of a young woman (Lightning) who begins seeing visions of ghostly children. As she struggles to work out what these visions mean she begins to uncover the unsavory history of the now deserted boarding school.
Lightning says growing up on a Cree reservation in Canada, she didn't know that her own father, an abusive alcoholic, had been sent to a boarding school as a child. She only learned this after he committed suicide. Lightning says she came to see how many families around her were in a similar position.
The film will get a special screening on Friday as the opening night event for the Women with Vision festival at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis. It will then get its official World Premiere at the South By Southwest Festival.
Lightning says she expects a strong emotional reaction from the Indian and non-Indian communities. She says what she hopes the film will do is start long overdue conversations