2018 Kamloops Film Festival: Indian Horse

Based on the novel by Richard Wagamese, Indian Horse brings an incredible, moving and heart-wrenching story of human suffering. Directed by Steven Campanelli, the film depicts traumatizing aspects of abuse and discrimination to Indigenous people and the horrors of Indian residential schools.

It is told from a perspective of an Indigenous boy named Saul who finds solace and escape from abuse and mistreatment in hockey. Having talent and passion for the sport, Saul struggles against stereotypes and discrimination. The story is not about a hero fighting his way to victory to earn fame and glory.

Indian Horse does not provide a flattened story of success-despite-all-adversities. What it does offer is a story of internal struggle and emotional scars that do not heal. Indian Horse is marvellously written and directed, inviting empathy from the viewer without having to demand it. Paced and even in narration and tone, the plot unravels itself slowly, disclosing more of Saul’s internal and social strains.

Only by the end of the story does it feel out of touch. The ending is rushed, leaving certain aspects of Saul’s life, relationships and struggles undiscovered. The plot twist by the end of Indian Horse is out of place too, as the true relationship between characters is not discussed further. Nonetheless, Indian Horse remains a powerful story and well-crafted screen adaptation.