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‘Smoke Signals’ inducted into National Film Registry for its ‘cultural significance’

Twenty years.

That’s how much time has passed since the groundbreaking “Smoke Signals” was released.

The film picked up numerous accolades at festivals such as the American Indian Film Festival, Gotham Awards, Taos Talking Picture Festival and Sundance Film Festival.

The film is unique, because it was made by an all-Native American cast and crew. At the helm was Santa Fe resident Chris Eyre.

In December, the film received one of its biggest honors as it was named to the list of the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress.

The 30th annual selection of 25 films deemed “culturally, historically or aesthetically” significant to the nation’s film heritage helps ensure that those on the list will be preserved for all time.

“It’s amazing,” Eyre says of the honor. “I got a call that my film was accepted by the Library of Congress to be preserved forever. How often do you make a movie that the country is going to preserve? It is blowing my mind.”

The 1998 film follows Victor Joseph and Thomas Builds-the-Fire, who live on the Coeur D’Alene Indian Reservation in Idaho.

Thomas is an eccentric storyteller, and Victor is an angry young man who enjoys playing basketball.

Victor’s father left when he was a boy, and he now learns that his father just died, and his mother sends him to collect the ashes. He is only able to make the trip with Thomas’ help, however, and there is a condition that is difficult for him to accept: Victor must swallow his pride and take Thomas with him.

It is based on the short story “This Is What it Means to Say Phoenix, Arizona,” and the screenplay is written by Sherman Alexie.

Eyre is humbled by the distinction and says it couldn’t have come at a better time.

“It’s a good way to conclude 20 years of the movie,” he says. “It’s going to stick forever now. The film is being inducted alongside ‘The Shining.’ It’s an honor I won’t forget.”

The other inductees include Alfred Hitchcock’s “Rebecca,” the noir classics “Leave Her to Heaven” and “The Lady From Shanghai,” Steven Spielberg’s “Jurassic Park,” “Days of Wine and Roses,” Buster Keaton’s “The Navigator,” and Ang Lee’s 2005 film “Brokeback Mountain.”

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