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(2009, Lowe)
A film with Native American characters

"Where is there a place without meanness?"

From the 17th Century through the beginning of the 20th Century, American Indian boarding schools were established across the United States to "civilize" Native Americans by essentially erasing their culture and way of life. Native Americans were often ridiculed because of their language or beliefs in an effort to make them embrace "American" culture. That is why one of the main characters of this powerful short refuses to go to school. "They're mean", she says prompting the above retort from her grandmother.

Set in 1934, Shimásáni follows two sisters (Brigadier and Noelle Brown) standing at a cultural crossroad. Because of the needs in the household, only one of them has been chosen to attend school while the other has to stay to tend the goats and the crops under the watchful eye of their strict grandmother (Carmelita B. Lowe). The die has been cast for both, and both hate the fate that has been chosen for each. But when the second one gets her hand in her sister's school book, she finds herself drawn and mesmerized by the outside world she might never know.

Found this short mostly by chance in a list of films with Native American characters made by Native American people, and it certainly left an impression. From the stark black and white cinematography to the powerful message in its story. A story that puts this two sisters between fate and free will trying to choose between the fate that has been chosen for them and the fate that they want. Is there meanness at the end of both roads? I guess that's something that they will have to find for themselves.