P R E S S R E L E A S E S 2004
April 6, 2004
MASS MoCA Screens Riveting Documentary about Leonard Peltier
(North Adams, Mass.) On June 26, 1975, on the fringes of South Dakota's Pineridge Reservation, a fatal shoot-out resulted in the death of two FBI agents and one Native American. The timeless story of a man wrongly imprisoned for crimes he did not commit became the focus of Incident at Oglala, a highly controversial documentary based on the case of one of the American Indian Movement's most celebrated activists, Leonard Peltier. Directed by Michael Apted and narrated and executive produced by Robert Redford, Incident at Oglala exposes a gripping account of past historical injustices and continuing unrighted wrongs against a backdrop of economic depression, violence, and fear. MASS MoCA will screen Incident at Oglala on Thursday, May 6, at 8pm, as part of its Thursday night Cinema Lounge series.
The Washington Post says: “Without being strident, Incident at Oglala is a passionately meticulous and convincing record of a shameful set of circumstances [that] lays out a story of violence and abuse so complicated and so grim that it splinters your heart.”
Serving two consecutive life sentences for the 1975 gun brawl, the extent of Peltier's actual guilt and whether he received a fair trial is the primary issue explored in the film. In 1972, the United States government signed an agreement with Oglala tribal president Dick Wilson to claim one-third of the uranium-rich reservation's land. Preexisting hostilities between the Oglala and the federal government intensified when the FBI began arming civilians sympathetic to Dick Wilson with military assault weapons. Mounting tensions eventually resulted in the June 26th clash during which one AIM member and two FBI agents lost their lives. Through a series of reenactments, interviews with attorneys, witnesses, and Peltier himself (the FBI refused to participate in the film), a chronicle of racism and long-standing oppression unfolds, along with highly persuasive evidence suggesting that Peltier's tribunal was far from impartial. A mysterious Mr. X – who claims to be responsible for the murders – also weighs in.
Robert Redford, actor, producer, and director known for films such as The Way We Were (1973), Indecent Proposal (1993), and The Bourne Identity (2002), has been a long-time advocate for Leonard Peltier's release, campaigning heavily on his behalf. Redford initially began researching the Peltier case in the 1980s with Peter Mathiessen (author of In The Spirit of Crazy Horse, a book based on the trial). After visiting Leonard Peltier in prison in Marion, Illinois, in 1981, Redford saw the need to make the issue more public by producing a film.
British director Michael Apted, known on the big screen for movies like Gorillas in the Mist (1988), Nell (1993) and the probing documentary series 7 Up, encounters similar issues in his film Thunderheart (1992), an historical fiction of Native American life in the 1970s. Not unlike his other film Class Action, Incident at Oglala also takes a careful look at the American legal system. Pleas on Peltier's behalf have come from Amnesty International, the National Council of Churches, Nelson Mandela, celebrities, government officials, and millions of petition signatures worldwide. A powerful example of muckraking and investigative reporting at its best, Incident at Oglala is a film about corruption, latent betrayal, and the elusive quest for justice.
Lickety Split will serve dinner and snacks starting at 7 P.M. when the doors open. There will also be a full bar.
Tickets for Incident at Oglala are $5.50. Tickets are available through the MASS MoCA Box Office located off Marshall Street in North Adams from 11 A.M. until 5 P.M. (closed Tuesdays). Tickets can also be charged by phone by calling 413.662.2111 during Box Office hours or purchased on line any time at www.massmoca.org.
MASS MoCA, the largest center for contemporary visual and performing arts in the United States, is located off Marshall St. in North Adams on a 13-acre campus of renovated 19th-century factory buildings.
For Immediate Release