'Seeing History Through Indians’ Eyes (PBS/Documentary)





IN his two-decade career as a filmmaker Ric Burns has made histories of the exploration of the American West and the settlement of New York City without resorting to the use of dramatic re-creations. In the passionate debate among filmmakers over the documentary form he sides with those who find the acting and low-budget effects too often cheesy and distracting.

Dramatic re-creations were as alien to him as documentary and period work were to Chris Eyre, an American Indian director whose character-intense films include “Smoke Signals” and the adaptations of Tony Hillerman’s novels “Skinwalkers” and “A Thief of Time” for PBS’s “Mystery!”

So it was with some mutual wariness that Mr. Burns and Mr. Eyre teamed up, at the request of the PBS history series “American Experience,” to direct “Tecumseh’s Vision,” one of five documentaries that make up “We Shall Remain.” This series within a series, which will be broadcast for five weeks beginning Monday, uses historians, American Indian experts and dozens of actors to examine moments in American history from the Indians’ perspective.

“Most people think of the U.S. as a country of immigrants, and actually there’s a big story there about the original inhabits of this country and their interaction with those immigrants,” said Sharon Grimberg, the executive producer of “We Shall Remain” with Mark Samels. (Mr. Samels is also the executive producer of “American Experience.”)


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