Palestinian filmmaker Suleiman to head Antalya Film Festival – In ‘Wind River’ grief blankets Wyoming reservation

For Taylor Sheridan, the West is still alive with frontier tragedies and genre thrills, even if hopelessness has moved in and blanketed the land. “Wind River” makes it a kind of trilogy for Sheridan, the writer behind the West Texas neo-Western “Hell or High Water” and the Mexican border drug crime drama “Sicario.” In “Wind River,” he shifts to a Wyoming Native American reservation and behind the camera, but the atmosphere is still rich and familiar: big open spaces with misery all around.

Whereas the Oscar-nominated “Hell or High Water” had a bright, comic punch, “Wind River” is more in the heavily somber register of “Sicario.” When one father who has lost a daughter consoles another, he advises him to confront the heartache head-on: “Take the pain.” It’s something of a mission statement for Sheridan, whose neo-Westerns are filled with deeply burdened men making painful sacrifices.

Sheridan’s latest (his second time directing following the little-seen 2011 horror film “Vile”) is set around the Wind River Reservation in a wintery Wyoming where, as one character says, “snow and silence are the only things that haven’t been taken.” The reservation, shrouded in violence, drugs and poverty, is an ominous place where American flags wave upside down.

It’s there that Corey Lambert (Jeremy Renner) discovers a freshly frozen body five miles into the mountains. He is a Fish & Wildlife agent who spends most of his time defending livestock by shooting predators with a rifle. Mountain lions nabbing cattle is what brought him, by snow mobile, to the remote crime site. The body, an 18-year-old Native American girl named Natalie (Kelsey Asbille) is barefoot, despite the snow and the cold, and she’s been raped. Her lungs, Lambert guesses, eventually froze and burst as she fled from miles away.

The investigation, though, is for the FBI. The agency is so thin in rural Wyoming that it dispatches an agent from Las Vegas: Jane Banner (Elizabeth Olsen) who lacks even a good enough winter coat. But Banner quickly shows her strengths and intelligently conscripts Lambert, an experienced tracker, to aid her. “This isn’t the land of backup,” she’s told. “This is the land of you’re on your own.”

The dead girl is revealed to be the daughter of a close friend of Lambert’s (Gil Birmingham). Birmingham, whose too-brief performance is one of noble weariness, is one of many Native Americans who populate the cast and lend “Wind River” both excellent acting and ethnic authenticity — even if its leads, and thus the story’s point-of-view, are white. When the police visit the family’s home, they find a broken household. An opened door reveals the guilt-ridden mother bloodily slashing at her wrists. The door, bizarrely, is simply closed.


LOS ANGELES:  Palestinian filmmaker Elia Suleiman will serve as jury president for the 54th Intl Antalya Film Festival, artistic director Mike Downey has announced.

Suleiman served as a jury member at Cannes Film Festival in 2006, and was jury president at the Abu Dhabi Film Festival in 2010, the Deauville Asian Film Festival in 2012, and the Rotterdam Film Festival in 2014.

He has been given tributes at the MoMA in New York and various events including Istanbul Film Festival, and Lisbon and Estoril Film Festival in Portugal. He was the recipient of the 1992 Rockefeller Award and the 2008 Prince Claus Award. In 2009, he was named the Variety magazine Middle East filmmaker of the year at the Abu Dhabi Film Festival, where he was awarded the Black Pearl Award for “The Time That Remains.”

Suleiman’s debut feature film, “Chronicle of a Disappearance,” won the first film prize at the 1996 Venice Film Festival. In 2002, “Divine Intervention” won the jury prize and the Fipresci Intl Critics Prize of the Cannes Film Festival, as well as the best foreign film prize at the European Film Awards in Rome. In 2007, he was chosen as one of the 35 directors of “To Each His Own Cinema,” a collective film for the Cannes Film Festival’s 60th anniversary. His last feature film, “The Time That Remains,” was in the official competition at the Cannes Film Festival in 2009. (Agencies)

In 2012, he completed a short film titled “Diary of a Beginner,” part of a collective feature titled “7 Days in Havana.” The film was in the official selection of Cannes’ Un Certain Regard.

“Elia Suleiman is a filmmaker of stature, vision and most of all of hope not just for cinema but for civilization itself,” Downey said. “He is one of the most important artists in contemporary world cinema and his deft ability to move from tragi-comedy and comedy in exploring universal human issues as well as his commitment to peace, tolerance and justice makes him the ideal jury president for the 54th edition of the Antalya Intl Film Festival. Elia’s talents range across a number of disciplines, as a writer, actor and director, and the poetry of his work allows bizarre insights not only into the realities of occupied Palestine but into the very nature of the human condition itself.” (Agencies)

By Jake Coyle

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