Must-Watch Trailer: Documentary About Native Gangs Is a Hit at Berlin Festival


The Seventh Fire, a film that follows two gang members on the White Earth Reservation in Minnesota, premiered on February 7 at the Berlin Film Festival to critical praise.

The film came in to the fest boasting an impressive pedigree: It’s “presented by” revered director Terrence Malick (Days of Heaven, The New World, Tree of Life) and its roster of producers includes actress Natalie Portman and director Chris Eyre.

The Seventh Fire looks at two Native gang members at decidedly different stages of their lives and, so to speak, careers. Rob Brown, a gang kingpin in his 30s, has been sentenced to prison for a fifth time and feels some remorse for having inflicted gang and drug culture on his Ojibwe community. Meanwhile, Brown’s 17-year-old protege Kevin Fineday dreams of becoming a big-time gang leader — i.e., the next Rob Brown.

The Hollywood Reporter sums up The Seventh Fire as “a fascinating and important documentary that takes some time to get going.”

The film has been a long time in the making, with origins that stretch back over a decade. In 2004, director Jack Pettibone Riccobono began visiting Ojibwe reservations to research a film about wild rice, “The Sacred Food,” which showed at the Berlin Film Festival in 2007. He later heard stories about Native gang culture, and decided to revisit White Earth to investigate. There he met Rob Brown, and decided to make the film that became The Seventh Fire.

Riccobono feels that The Seventh Fire will appeal to audiences as an important human story, but also as a piece of art. “This film is not just for that crowd that goes to see social issue documentaries,” he told Screen Daily. “We want someone to think, ‘If you like [Terrence] Malick, you might also respond to the aesthetic of this film.'” He adds that problems communities face with drugs and gangs “are American issues, not just Native American issues.”

Future plans for The Seventh Fire include screenings at reservations.

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turbojesus's picture
Submitted by turbojesus on
I wonder if he's related to Odie Brown. Native americans need gangs because tribes need a militia and they're basically the same as the united states army and operate in the same capacity. Maybe he should commit crimes. The alternative relies on the supposition that you can have a good life or things will get better doing what you're supposed to be doing and the truth is not really. Really you're gonna get crap on toast for being native american. No amount of money or work will buy you equality. You can play the victim but that'll just make you beneath them further which is what they want. Public schools and other forms of government propaganda like this makes you think that things can be changed and are getting better. Not really. The people that make this stuff are probably more twisted then the fake thugs they create on screen. He must have been trying to get years cut off his sentence or been in a pretty nice prison. I don't know maybe he became effeminate from dropping the soap too many times in the showers. concealing the truth with pretend mercy and sympathy is how they prevent people from outright attacking them. What do they have to do write in big letters everywhere that they want to kill you and take what you got?