Review: Hard look at drugs in Indian Country in 'Seventh Fire'

Robert Brown and Kevin Fineday are members of the White Earth Nation who are featured in The Seventh Fire documentary. Photo from Seventh Fire LLC

The Seventh Fire, a documentary about drugs on the White Earth Nation, is seeing its theatrical premiere with a run in New York City. The run includes events featuring filmmaker Chris Eyre, one of the executive producers, and Rob Brown, a tribal member who is a subject of what The New York Times critic Glenn Kenny calls a "searing documentary" that focuses on the "bleak lives" on the Minnesota reservation:
The only genuine moments of peace in the searing documentary “The Seventh Fire” come at the very beginning: lyrical shots of headlights moving forward on a long stretch of road at daybreak. After that, the director, Jack Pettibone Riccobono, practically grabs viewers by the backs of their necks and shows them the bleak lives of two residents of Pine Point, an Ojibwe village in northern Minnesota on the White Earth Indian Reservation.

Rob Brown, a onetime gang leader, proudly shows the camera what he calls his “criminal organization” chest tattoo, and the diluted dope he cooks up. Mr. Brown cuts the hair of his quasi-protégé Kevin, a teenager content to do small-time drug dealing until he can graduate to something bigger — Kevin has a “Scarface” poster hanging in his house. He’s a little unsure just how much he wants a criminal life, though, and he’s estranged from his father, a recovering alcoholic who catches leeches to sell for bait.

When Mr. Brown learns he has to return to prison, he organizes a farewell blowout. In one scene, Kevin is shown dealing, and using, with white teenagers from a neighboring town. The movie provides startling, detailed looks at the wrecks drug addicts become.

Get the Story:
Review: ‘The Seventh Fire’ Explores Drug Abuse on an Indian Reservation (The New York Times 7/22)

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