One movie that is mostly referred to for people studying about Native American Cinema is Smoke Signals. The film is credited be the first movie that has been produced, directed, and even has actors of Native American origin. The creative brains behind such a masterpiece are its director (Chris Eyre) and Script writer (Sherman Alexie). The movie which hit screens in the year 1998 has two unique aspects to it – one being an historical milestone in the development of Native American Cinema, and second being a movie that has brought in innovation in terms of cinematic storytelling. .
Smoke Signals, rather than being a cohesive screenplay, is more of a series of a few noteworthy moments of the life of two brothers, Victor and Thomas. Their father flees away leaving his family behind and the opening of the film is about a communication received by their mom Arlene about their father's death in Phoenix. The rest of the movie revolves around the journey of the two brothers for collecting their father's ashes. .
The effect of fathers who are either absent or abusive towards their families has a very serious impact on children, especially on male children and this was one of the most popular themes on which many films apart from Smoke Signals were based upon. A few examples of such films with this theme are He Got Game and Sling Blade. This father-son relationship is even more special and highly valued in Native Americans whose cultural identities almost vanished due to their relocation, racial discrimination and genocide, among others. Also, there family structures were most often shattered because of alcohol and drug abuse. In light of this very aspect, the film Smoke Signals can be portrayed as a plight of two Native American sons. .
Victor, the protagonist of the film is portrayed as an extremely harsh individual who is most often abusive towards his sibling Thomas.