New York-based filmmaker Chloe Zhao’s first feature, Songs My Brothers Taught Me, was shot and largely cast on the Pine Ridge Reservation. It’s a portrait of life on Pine Ridge experienced partly through the eyes of a young Lakota girl who is preparing herself for the departure of her beloved older brother. Johnny and Jashaun live at home with their single mother. An older brother is in prison. At the start of the film, the brothers learn that the father they’ve never met, a famous rodeo cowboy, has died in an accidental fire.
Chloe Zhao describes Songs My Brothers Taught Me as a kind of poem dedicated to her love for this wild, magnificent, yet marginalized piece of the American west. The film screened earlier this year at the Sundance and Cannes Film Festival. Songs My Brothers Taught Me receives its South Dakota Premiere as on Tuesday as a part of the Cinema Falls film series in Sioux Falls. After the first showing sold out, a second was added. The film will move from its premiere with Cinema Falls to screenings in Kyle for the actors and their families.
Chloe Zhao is back in South Dakota for the local premiere. She joined Dakota Midday to discuss the film.