This haunting documentary looks at the ritual of the hunt and its place in the history and identity of today’s Lakota Sioux.
By Karen Han
At first glance, “The Buffalo Hunt” seems fairly straightforward. Under the eye of the film’s director, Philip Di Fiore, the people of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota take apart a buffalo, using the skin to make drums and splitting up the meat for those who could not attend the hunt, as well as for a communal soup.
It’s that last use around which the documentary eventually coalesces, becoming a striking, poetic look at the Lakota Sioux. (The film, now streaming on Amazon, was born out of the protests at Standing Rock, but it changed focus as the documentary’s producer, Phillip O’Leary, got to know the Pine Ridge people who had come in solidarity.) The process of killing a buffalo is deftly juxtaposed with what the buffalo will be used for, and with the way it serves the community and brings it together.
Interstitial scenes help paint a more comprehensive picture as the film’s subjects discuss problems with drug use, generational trauma and the temptation to leave the reservation. The droning score, composed by Jason Staehler Hill and Ari Ingber, and Di Fiore’s penchant for cutting to images of the bare and forbidding landscape cast a pall over the proceedings, but the documentary feels more hopeful than not.
The Buffalo Hunt
Not rated. Running time: 1 hour 27 minutes.
Ya Ho and Great Love. The posts when emailed by TI (unlike some other sites) reproduce the article in its entirety so I don't always have to go there to read the piece. But with the visuals and videos that attend the vertical scrolling, coming to the page is always a moving experience. Thank you.