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The Exiles has Restoration Screening In Berlin

The American independent docudrama THE EXILES, made in 1962, had a gala premiere at the Venice Film Festival in 1966, and then then inexplicably fell into obscurity. This "lost film" is being resurrected by the Forum section of the Berlin Film Festival, which will present a newly restored version of this neglected American classic.

THE EXILES was a unique collaboration between filmmaker Kent Mackenzie and the young Native American men and women whose lives he documented. The story concerns a trio of young Native Americans who decide to leave the reservation. Once they've reached Los Angeles, the three protagonists find themselves just as lost and isolated as they would have been in the middle of the desert. Non-professionals Yvonne Williams, Homer Nish and Tommy Reynolds give strong, naturalistic performances in a film that mixes documentary realism with dramatic technique.

Years in the making, this moving and brilliantly shot film was never released commercially and was subsequently lost when the original nontheatrical distributors folded. When filmmaker Thom Anderson included glowing night scenes from THE EXILES in his 2003 compilation documentary, LOS ANGELES PLAYS ITSELF, viewers became enthralled with the poetry of the images and wondered where they came from. In 2006, film preservationist Ross Lipman of the UCLA Film Archives began work to preserve and restore the 35mm negative and sound. Working with the film's cinematographers, Lipman was able to restore the film's glistening night photography as well as its soundtrack featuring the raucous rock and roll score by The Revels.

Following its world premiere in Berlin, THE EXILES will open theatrically in the United States in the late spring of 2008 via Milestone Films. According to Milestone's president, Amy Heller, "The film's importance of in terms of cinema history and Native American literature cannot be underestimated. Its first-ever theatrical release in 2008 will be a revelation to theatrical audiences around the world and an inspiration to filmmakers for years to come." Bravo to the Forum for resurrecting this lost American indie classic.

Sandy Mandelberger, Berlin FF Dailies Editor on fest21.com

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