The Unknown Country
Director: Morrisa Maltz Run Time: 85 min. Format: DCP Release Year: 2023
Starring: Devin Shangreaux, Lainey Bearkiller Shangreaux, Lily Gladstone, Raymond Lee, Richard Ray Whitman
Area Premiere Screenings!
We all know that Lily Gladstone is hotly tapped to be nominated for an Oscar for Killers of the Flower Moon, and rightfully so, but her performance in this warm, spare, and beautiful indie is also remarkable. Gladstone plays Tana, an Oglala woman who, in the wake of her grandmother’s passing, goes on a road trip that takes her from the frozen Midwest to the Texas/Mexico border. Along the way, this narrative film slips in and out of non-fiction as Tana meets both family members and strangers—many of whom seem to step out of the film to tell their own stories in apparent documentary voiceover. Director Morissa Maltz and cinematographer Andrew Hajek capture the beauty of the terrain with ease but it’s the moments of connection with strangers along the road, while skirting but not ignoring the danger of a Native woman traveling alone through the middle of Trump’s America, that are especially affecting.
“This is a beautiful road movie that should be seen on the big screen, and one of my favorite genres: quiet and simple. Not slow, but the film gives each moment space and breath. It feels so authentic and natural. If you are a fan of Lily Gladstone from Killers of the Flower Moon then check out this amazing starring role.” – Ivy
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“The movie is a documentary-narrative hybrid in which Gladstone improvises scenes with regular people that the director met on her own road trips over the years. (That’s co-producer Lainey Bearkiller Shangreaux’s real wedding that we’re watching.) It’s a similar structure to ‘Nomadland,’ except without all the fatuous, condescending baloney about the nobility of poverty.” – Sean Burns, WBUR