SONGS MY BROTHERS TAUGHT ME
Johnny and Jashaun, two siblings coping with the loss of their father in distinctly different ways, form the heart of Chloé Zhao's stunning directorial debut set among the Lakota people of South Dakota's Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. When Johnny reveals his intention to leave home for Los Angeles with his girlfriend, the siblings' close relationship splinters. A wounded Jashaun goes in search of a surrogate brother, while Johnny bides his time illegally selling alcohol to neighbors who'd be better off without it. Their journeys provide Zhao with the means to sketch a complex, sensitive portrait of a community connected by rich cultural heritage and also by deep personal turmoil that manifests in destructive ways. Lensed by Joshua James Richards with a keen eye for the natural grandeur of the surrounding badlands and performed with effortless naturalism by a stellar cast, Zhao's film gives a powerful voice to a population that until now has been regrettably absent from American cinema. — Mike Dougherty
Preceding short: TUESDAY.
Raised in Beijing and England, Chloé Zhao is a New York-based award-winning writer and director. Her short film DAUGHTERS premiered at the Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival. She was selected to participate in the 2012 Sundance Directors Lab.