'Reel Injun' to be screened in Roxbury

Minor Memorial Library in Roxbury and the Institute for American Indian Studies in Washington will co-sponsor a screening of the documentary “Reel Injun: On the Trail of the Hollywood Indian” May 15 at 6:30 p.m. at the South Street library.

The program, the second of an ongoing series of documentaries about Native Americans, is free and open to the public.

Native Americans have been portrayed by Hollywood since the earliest days of film making, but the depictions often fed into prejudices and stereotypes that said more about the film makers and their audiences than about Native peoples themselves.

In this film, Cree filmmaker Neil Diamond traces the evolution of cinema’s depiction of Native people from the film era to today, with clips from hundreds of classic and recent Hollywood movies and interviews with celebrated Native and non-Native film celebrities.

Director Diamond travels across the United States to visit iconic locations in motion picture as well as American Indian history.

“Reel Injun” explores the various stereotypes about Natives in film, from the noble savage to the drunken Indian.

It profiles such figures as Iron Eyes Cody, an Italian American who reinvented himself as a Native American on screen.

The film also explores Hollywood's practice of using Italian Americans and American Jews to portray Indians in the movies and reveals how some Native American actors made jokes in their native tongue on screen when the director thought they were simply speaking gibberish.

A snack of popcorn and a discussion will follow the screening.

For more information, call 860-350-2181.