On December 29, 1890 an awful massacre occurred. More than 150 men, women, and children from the Lakota tribe were killed and another 50 injured after a US Calvary Regiment lead by Colonel James Forsyth entered their land and, while trying to disarm them, ended up slaughtering them instead. It is one of the darkest days in American Indian history, and one that still haunts the Lakota tribe to this day. Each year, the Lakota Sioux tribe repeats a journey that takes them on a 300 mile horse ride, called the "Chief Big Foot Memorial Ride," to honor their ancestors and Stéphanie Gillard's documentary THE RIDE takes us along for...well, the ride.
Here we follow several groups of the Sioux tribe: Sioux cowboys who look forward to this day all year, Vietnam veterans, and the next generation of young riders, climbing aboard for their first time. The style of the drama here is actually NOT to have drama. You don't see people complaining or wanting to do other things. Here, everyone on the ride are proud to be there participating, even if sometimes the conditions are less than welcoming (cold weather, cramped up gym floors). This point of view is a welcome one, and instead of preaching or teaching a lesson, it's simply letting you in on their world from their POV. It also warmly explores how their past can inform their current lives. It's especially great to see the youth with such an interest in their past. One great scene involves a group of teens circled up with their eyes closed (so as not to be tempted to feel judged by others) and singing with unabashed enthusiasm a Lakota song in their own tongue. It's a beautiful moment, and you're pulled into the intimacy of it all.
Director Stéphanie Gillard does a fine job of simply taking us into their world without a real through line (other than the actual "ride" that is). There is no dramatic build or push. No personal squabbles. It's simply a light that shines into their world and into a powerful moment of their lives so that we may all share it. Not having a main narrator was an interesting choice as well, and although it sometimes allows scenes to wander (a few moments meeting the kids go on a bit too long), it feels real and raw. Stunningly crafted cinematography by Martin de Chabaneix really brings the beauty out of the ordinary moments of life. This is a ride definitely worth going on.
MATEO'S VERDICT: SEE IT
WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY Stéphanie Gillard FEATURING Jesse James White, Jimy White, Manaja Hill, A.J. Agard, Ron his horse is thunder
Playing as part of the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival. For tickets and information: https://tribecafilm.com/festival/
MATEO MORENO is an actor, writer and playwright. His plays Happily After Tonight, Bohemian Valentine, & Within Our Walls have been produced in NY and beyond (TBG Theatre, NY International Fringe Festival, Planet Connections Festivity, Boomerang Theatre, and FOHS Theatre) and his newest play Paper Airplanes will be seen at The Leonard Nimoy Thalia at Symphony Space this May. He most recently co-stared in the critically acclaimed Off-Broadway play City of Glass at The New Ohio Theatre and will next appear in Glory Kadigan's "Uzume" at LaMama. Mateo is also part of Athena Theatre's 2016 Playwrighting Group. He lives in Brooklyn.