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Volume 24, No. 7       November 12, 2001

Native American Actor Will Discuss Film Roles

FarmerGary Farmer --- who played an Indian called Nobody in the cult classic Dead Man and whose latest acting credit is The Score with Robert De Niro --- will share his experiences as an actor and film producer in a talk on Monday, November 26. Farmerís presentation, which is free and open to the public, will begin at 7:30 p.m. in Klingenstein Lounge, Egbert Hall.

A Cayuga born on the Six Nations Reserve in Ontario, Farmer has compiled a wide range of credits since he began his acting career in the late 1970s. After several years on the stage in Canada, he made his first film appearance as a store owner in the 1984 movie Police Academy. He also began breaking into television, making guest appearances on Miami Vice and China Beach, and then landed roles in a number of groundbreaking films, including Jim Jarmuschís Dead Man --- the first American movie to win for best non-European film at the European Film Awards --- and Smoke Signals, one of the first films written, directed, produced, and acted by Native Americans (see story on page 4).

Critics have praised the way Farmer endows his characters with dignity while preserving a wry sense of humor. This approach to character development was perhaps best expressed in the 1989 film Powwow Highway, in which Farmer plays Philbert Bono, an easygoing loner living on a reservation in Montana. When Bonoís friend, a firebrand leader in the American Indian Movement and his temperamental opposite, needs to get to New Mexico to bail out a relative run afoul of the law, Bono sees the trip as a spiritual quest. Such a journey requires a war pony, and for Bono a beat-up 1968 Buick he calls Protector fits the bill. Praised for its careful research into American Indian customs and for the palpable sense of community it conveys, Powwow Highway won the Filmmakers Trophy at the 1989 Sundance Film Festival and established Farmer as a serious actor.

Despite his growing reputation, Farmer continued to take many low-profile roles, providing sturdy support in the dramas Renegade (1989), The Dark Wind (1991), and Sioux City (1994) before winning kudos for a rare starring role as a childlike man who befriends his developmentally challenged young nephew in the Canadian-made Henry and Verlin (1994). His role as Nobody in Jarmuschís award-winning Dead Man garnered Farmer an Independent Spirit Award nomination for the best supporting male actor from the Independent Feature Project in Los Angeles and the best actor award at the American Indian Film Festival in San Francisco.

Farmer has produced several documentaries, including What the Eagle Hears, which portrays the struggles of four Native American women coping with physical handicaps. The film was screened at the Sundance Film Festival in 2000. In 1993 he founded Aboriginal Voices, a magazine published and operated by Native Americans.

Farmerís visit is being sponsored by the Native American Cultural Club with the support of the Center for the Study of Culture, Race, and Ethnicity; the Department of Anthropology; the Diversity Awareness Committee; and the Ithaca College Humanities and Sciences Honors Program.

For more information, contact assistant professor of anthropology Brooke Olson at 274-1735.

photo by Jill Sabella for Miramax Films


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Andrejs Ozolins, Ithaca College Office of Publications. 30. Nov. 2001