Exiles, The: Seminal 1961 Docu About Native Americans Restored

The 58th Berlin International Film Festival’s International Forum of New Cinema has selected to premiere the restoration of Kent Mackenzie’s lost 1962 Native American documentary “The Exiles.”

In 2004, Milestone partnered with Diane Mackenzie and Kiki Oldenberg (the director’s daughters), the USC Moving Image Archive, the UCLA Film and Television Archive and the National Film Preservation Foundation on a mission to preserve and restore for worldwide distribution this breakthrough documentary portrait of Native Americans in Los Angeles in the early 1960s.

“The Exiles” was a unique collaboration between filmmaker Mackenzie and the young men and women whose lives he documented. 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 Archive began work to preserve and restore the 35mm negative and sound for THE EXILES. Working with the film’s cinematographers, John Morrill and Erik Daarstad, 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 U.S. in late spring of 2008. 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.

Berlin will also feature Charles Burnett’s re-edited “My Brother’s Wedding” and the shocking Vietnam documentary “Winter Soldier.”