'Indian Relay' captures the legacy and joy of an American Indian extreme sport
September 25, 2014
Film producer, director, and new Virginia Tech faculty member Charles Dye will screen his award winning film "Indian Relay" on Wednesday, Oct. 1 at 7:30 p.m. at the Lyric Theatre in Blacksburg.
The film will be followed by a question and answer session with Dye. The event is free and open to the public
Selected for the 2013-2014 season of Independent Lens and winner of two Emmy awards, the film follows three Indian Relay teams across a season of native horse racing in Montana, Wyoming, and Idaho.
Although the origins of the race are unclear, LaGrand Coby, president of the Shoshone Bannock Indian Relay Association, believes that Indian relays have been a part of tribal fairs since the early 1900s.
For the competition, four members and three horses make up a team. The rider, assisted by the other three teammates, completes laps around the track at break-neck speed, changing horses for each new lap. The other teammates assist the rider in the thrilling and dangerous transition from horse to horse, as spectators cheer on their teams.
The documentary film captures a view of a competitive sport distinctive to members of American Indian tribal nations. Through the power of the camera lens, Dye captures more than a competition; he captures the joy of family, the beauty of nature, and the pride of legacy.
Dye describes the film as a view of a sport that ignites emotion, allowing audience members to discover a tradition. When asked about his work and the subjects he chooses, he commented that he strives to create work that has a purpose and stories that "put us closer to the promise that I think we live by."
New to the Virginia Tech School of Performing Arts faculty this year, Dye earned his Master of Fine Arts degree in science and natural history filmmaking at Montana State University. He taught at Al Akhawayn University in Morocco just prior to joining the cinema faculty at Virginia Tech.
His previous projects include "Before There Were Parks: Yellowstone and Glacier through Native Eyes," which appeared on PBS and won two regional Emmy Awards; "A Cat Called Elvis" about his search for snow leopards in western Mongolia; and "Last of the Gum Men" about Guatemala's few remaining chicleros. His fiction work includes "Commercial," which was selected for over 15 international film festivals and his M.F.A. thesis film, "The Curtsy."
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