Inside Out 2021: Our Review of ‘Being Thunder’

Posted in Festival Coverage, Inside Out 2021, Movies by - June 02, 2021
Inside Out 2021: Our Review of ‘Being Thunder’

Preceding Being Thunder is Odehimin, a short film in two European languages and in Anciniapemowin. Those three languages come from the body of an Algonquin woman affirming her body within nature.

Similar affirmations exist between Being Thunder but it captures those moments within more realistic ones, which is an important mix in depicting the life of Sherente Harris. In a way, they’re like every other student after 2005. They’re in classes where teachers discuss dealing with unrealistic beauty standards. They’re not oblivious to things society expects them to meet. But the context of these lessons is different around Harris, who belongs to the Narragansett people and is two spirit. They see spirits of a man and a woman inside their body. The documentary captures them trying and mostly succeeding in brushing off those expectations. And they do that as a good role model to their siblings. The movie depicts them from one car ride to another. They negotiate Indigenous life within colonial rule and its contemporary trappings.

Sherente deals with contemporary ideas within their community. That school where they has enough Indigenous students and teachers, and that environment seems progressive. The traditional dance competitions are the same, but Being Thunder captures an air of discrimination within members of the competition’s judging panel without showing those judges. Despite those judges, the movie depicts Sherente’s community as one where love mostly rules. When the judges don’t acknowledge them, the other cisgender passing dancers rally around them. And the film s there for other community gatherings showing that love. Sherente is there when their parents renew each other’s vows. The whole family is also there, videotaping each other when Sherente opens e-mails from universities rejecting or accepting them. There’s color and diversity and joy in a doc that looks forward into the future.

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While Paolo Kagaoan is not taking long walks in shrubbed areas, he occasionally watch movies and write about them. His credentials are as follows: he has a double major in English and Art History. This means that, for example, he will gush at the art direction in the Amityville house and will want to live there, which is a terrible idea because that house has ghosts. Follow him @paolokagaoan on Instagram but not while you're working.
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