AFF Review: Aitamaako’tamisskapi Natosi: Before the Sun

Saddle up for this documentary about a Blackfoot rodeo family

Banchi Hanuse’s Aitamaako’tamisskapi Natosi: Before the Sun captures the inspiring story of Logan Red Crow, daughter to Allison and Clarence Red Crow, a somewhat-progressive Siksika cowboy from the Blackfoot Territory of Alberta, Canada.

For the Red Crows, horses are a way of life, and racing their thoroughbreds in one of the world’s most dangerous horse races, the Indian Relay, the thrill of it.

Unfortunately, even in the 21st century, there are obstacles set in place that make it harder for a young woman to follow her passions, especially in a male-centered medium. Yet Clarence is beyond proud of Logan’s devotion to his way of life, reminiscing of the days when, as a 3-year-old, she would hang on to his belt like reins as he chased down wild horses that had to be tamed before they could be raced.

But much like those horses, tempering Logan’s passion for equine speed proves quite the chore. And although he loves showing others that “Native women can do anything they want,” the more Logan races, the more her father worries she’ll wind up in a wheelchair, and so spends as much time trying to talk her into focusing on school as he does training her to transfer – the most dangerous part of the race as the riders pull into the stall, come to a sudden stop, and jump off one horse onto another. Increasing tensions with her father force Logan to become more self-reliant and hustle in order to make her dreams manifest. Still, racing is a team sport, and who better to help this young woman with something to prove than her first and most ardent supporter: her mom.

Beyond all the best trappings of a sports documentary, Before the Sun juxtaposes the Red Crows' deep connections to the horses they seem to live by and for, talking to them as if they were people, confiding in them, and loving them wholeheartedly. The Red Crows talk to each other in much the same way, always talking the horses and themselves up, with Logan's brother and personal trainer once saying, “Never hang your head, especially when you lose.”


Aitamaako’tamisskapi Natosi: Before The Sun

Mon., Oct. 30, 5pm, The Hideout Theatre

Austin Film Festival runs Oct. 26-Nov. 3. Badges available now at austinfilmfestival.com.
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