The filmmakers who created HBO's "The Last of His Tribe" were wrapped in blankets and praised with song Thursday before the screening of the film at the Directors Guild of America. The brief ceremony by four American Indians was an "appropriate way of expressing gratitude," said Dave Archambault, president of the American Indian College Fund.
The film, which airs March 28, tells the true story of Ishi, the sole survivor of California's Yahi tribe, and Alfred Kroeber, an anthropologist with whom he lived in 1911. "What's important," said Archambault, "is the people who made this film wanted to create a better understanding of what went on in the past that would allow an entire tribe to be annihilated."
The blankets--elegant, handmade "star quilts"--were given to co-stars Jon Voight and Graham Greene, who plays Ishi, producer John Levoff and HBO Pictures Senior Vice President Bob Cooper.
"There's a saying that simplicity of expression is the natural result of profound thought," said Voight. "That's what I thought when I was given the blanket. It was a very simple, very moving gesture . . . "
The screening was co-hosted by HBO and the American Indian College Fund. While the event wasn't a fund-raiser, it was a way of bringing attention to the 2-year-old organization. "American Indians are a few generations behind in this credentialed world," said Archambault. "By establishing colleges on reservations, our students realize more success when they continue their education or get employment."
A post-screening reception was held in the DGA lobby and outdoors under a full moon on the patio. Director Harry Hook was on hand and mentioned that anthropologist Kroeber's daughter is famed science-fiction writer Ursula Le Guin.
Greene, who also acted in "Dances with Wolves," still had his blanket slung over a shoulder as he received guests. And while he supported the education fund, Greene said he feels Indians should be referred to simply as The People. "Every nation in North America had a name that translates down to The People," said the actor. "Part of the whole thing is getting our identity straight."
Among those present were co-stars David Ogden Stiers and Jack Blessing, plus guests Jacqueline Bisset, Jane Seymour, Andrea Marcovicci, Ray Manzarek and Beau Bridges.