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Smoke Signals Movie Poster
Plot, Details & Awards

Smoke Signals

Rated PG-13 for some intense images.

PG-13 In Theaters 06/26/1998 , 88min.
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Plot & Details

This dramatic feature was written, directed, and co-produced by Native Americans. Native American writer Sherman Alexie scripted this adaptation of his 1993 short story collection The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven. Director Chris Eyre's previous short Someone Kept Saying Powwow is incorporated into the 88-minute feature. Developed at the Sundance Lab in 1995, the film was a winner of both the Audience Award and the Filmmakers' Trophy at the 1998 Sundance Film Festival. In 1976, an infant survives a fire that kills his parents. In a flash forward to the present day, the infant has grown up to become the skinny, nerdy adult Thomas (Evan Adams). At Idaho's desolate Coeur d'Alene Indian reservation, the overeager youth is mostly ignored by others, including stoic athletic Victor Joseph (Adam Beach), even though it was Victor's father, alcoholic Arnold Joseph (Gary Farmer), who saved the infant Thomas' life in the fire. A drunken Arnold later abandoned his family, and Victor hasn't seen his father in a decade. When Victor learns of Arnold's death in Phoenix, Thomas offers to pay for the trip to Phoenix if he can accompany Victor. They make an odd couple since Victor is embarrassed by Thomas' geekiness. In Phoenix, they find that Arnold lived in a small trailer in the desert, and they meet Arnold's friend Suzy Song (Irene Bedard), who provides disturbing truths about Arnold that impact on Victor.

Independent Spirit Awards

Year Award CategoryCast & Crew Result
1998 Independent Spirit Awards Best First Screenplay Sherman Alexie Nominated
1998 Independent Spirit Awards Best Supporting Actor Gary Farmer Nominated
1998 Independent Spirit Awards Best Debut Performance Evan Adams Won

Sundance Film Festival

Year Award CategoryCast & Crew Result
1998 Sundance Film Festival Filmmaker's Trophy: Dramatic Chris Eyre Won
1998 Sundance Film Festival Audience Award Chris Eyre Won

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