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Songs My Brothers Taught Me / The Rider

A young man riding a horse.
June 3, 2022 - 7:30 pm
virtual Q&A with actor JaShaun St. John.

Songs My Brothers Taught Me

U.S., 2015

Chloé Zhao’s stunning directorial debut tells the story of a young man (John Reddy) emerging into adulthood on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, as viewed through the loving eyes of his sister (JaShaun St. John). Following in the tradition of Kent Mackenzie’s The Exiles (1961), the film is a glowing example of a film by an outsider director working in intimate cross-cultural collaboration with her insider subjects and colleagues, to tell a story that’s at once specific and universal. At times hauntingly tragic, Songs My Brother Taught Me reveals a basic humanity at its core that is ultimately lyric and uplifting: it’s little wonder Hollywood sought out this gifted director from the independent ranks.

DCP, color, 98 min. Director: Chloé Zhao. Screenwriter: Chloé Zhao. With: John Reddy, JaShaun St. John.

The Rider

U.S., 2017

Writer-director Chloé Zhao followed up Songs My Brothers Taught Me with another powerful and poignant story of survival drawn from the lives and landscapes of the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. Playing a character loosely based on his own experiences, Brady Jandreau (Lakota Sioux) delivers a soulful performance as a young rodeo star sidelined by injury who must grapple with life out of the limelight and on the edge of poverty. Zhao’s fluid and intimate camera weaves human dysfunction and connection, natural beauty and grinding hardship into an extraordinarily moving portrait of the American west. One of the best films of the last two decades, The Rider immediately established Zhao as a major film artist when it premiered in the Directors' Fortnight at Cannes.

DCP, color, 103 min. Director: Chloé Zhao. Screenwriter: Chloé Zhao. With: Brady Jandreau, Tim Jandreau, Lilly Jandreau.