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October 19, 2017 at 3:38 pm

Guardian Quotes Marciniak on Non-Western Cinema Recommendation

Dr. Katarzyna Marciniak

Dr. Katarzyna Marciniak

Dr. Katarzyna Marciniak, Professor of English at Ohio University, contributed to The Guardian’s article on “Lecturers recommend: non-western cinema that every student should see.”

Marciniak’s recommendation was “The Business of Fancydancing,” U.S., 2002, directed by Sherman Alexie. She wrote:

Sherman Alexie is a Native American poet, novelist and filmmaker. Fancydancing was his directorial debut and features a decidedly non-western narrative, punctuated by poems, drumbeats and dance performances.

Fancydancing allows us to mess up all kinds of established categories: Are indigenous communities transnational? Can Alexie be considered a non-western artist? How does the narrative complicate the idea of borders? The film is his directorial debut, produced on a shoe-string budget, with a predominantly female crew since, as he wanted to make a movie that agreed with his politics.

Students love the poetic nature of the film that refuses to present Native American characters in normative ways. We follow the story of Seymour Polatkin, an Native American gay poet who leads a cosmopolitan life and embodies the contradictions of (un)belonging. He comes from the reservation and its stories feed his poetic talent, yet he is simultaneously shunned by his friends on the reservation who regard his poetry as exploitative, using their indigenous stories to advance his career. He is perceived as foreign by his own people who believe that his exotic “foreignness” has helped him achieve his fame and mockingly refer to him as “public relations Indian”.


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