Friday, June 5, 2009

What Freep writers are doing right now Department

The American West: On the Road with Michael Blake Dinner and a Movie
Michael Blake, the Oscar-winning author and screenwriter of Dances With Wolves, will show and discuss his new documentary, The American West: On the Road with Michael Blake, in which he embarks on a road trip through the American West exploring historic battle sites and places of conflict between Whites and Indians. Through the unique lens of this impassioned storyteller, viewers gain a fresh look at the people, events and landscapes that shaped our country. Joining Blake for this special evening will be the film's director, Emmy Award-winner John Carver.

The very special Movie Dinner Theater at Radisson Poco Diablo Resort with Academy Award-winner Blake is co-presented by The Sedona International Film Festival and Festival of Native American Culture on Saturday, June 6. The event will begin at 6 p.m.

While most documentaries focus on the past or present, The American West combines both in a visually engaging, musically driven narrative blend. Blake hosts a unique journey back during modern life that carries the viewer from now to then … and back again.

Together with his horse, Breeze, Blake rides through the incredible scenery of the American Southwest telling the stories of the Chiricahua Apache. He tells of the deceit imposed on the Apache Chief Cochise igniting 25 years of conflict between the Apaches and Whites. The storytelling continues about the famed Apache Leader Geronimo and the final and permanent deportation of the powerful Chiricahua Apache from their homeland. The story concludes with the unique encounter of Blake's great-grandfather Lieutenant J.Y.F. Blake with Geronimo. Lieutenant Blake escorted Geronimo and his people to a reservation more than a hundred miles away. On arriving, the two made an exchange of gifts, one of which still exists and is featured in The American West.

This documentary film was inspired by Blake's Indian Yell, a non-fiction book that focuses on critical historical conflicts between Indians and Whites in the American West.

Blake's professional writing life began in the U.S. military at age nineteen and continued in college where he worked as an editor and investigative reporter for several university newspapers. In 1971, his career in journalism ended when he left an editorial position at the legendary underground weekly, the Los Angeles Free Press, to pursue fiction in both movies and books. In the early eighties, a screenplay made it to the screen in the form of a low-budget, independent film originally titled Double Down, starring a then-unknown actor named Kevin Costner, in his first featured role.

Blake's first novel, Dances With Wolves, was published as a mass-market paperback in 1988, receiving no attention until the film version was released to worldwide acclaim in the late 1990s. The phenomenal success of the movie ended more than twenty years of impoverished struggle to make a living out of literature and resulted in a downpour of awards, including the Oscar®. Equally prestigious awards were produced by protracted efforts at public service, among them the Eleanor Roosevelt Award for work with minorities and the environment: the Animal Protection Institute's Humanitarian of the Year; the U.S. Air Force's Americanism Award; the American Library Association's Hero of the Year; and Cancervive's Survivor of the Year.

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