As an ill-fitting member of the Oklahoma Film Critics Circle, around this time each year, I receive boxes and boxes of movie memorabilia, usually meant to sway and influence us to place these flicks on our top ten lists and, sadly, for many critics, it often works and works well.
This year, Netflix has been pitching like crazy, sending critics bottles of wine and so on, all in an effort to send their pre-paid films to the top of the pops. And while that’s fine—it’s wholly their prerogative—director Sterlin Harjo’s newest documentary premiered on the streamer December 3rd with--as of this writing--sadly, little to no promotion or fanfare.
Netflix either has no faith in the film or, perhaps more accurately, no faith in Indigenous people.
But I guess our people are used to treatment like this by now, which is ironic, considering that Love and Fury is a documentary about a group of Native artists, musicians and other types trying to not only find an audience for their art, but also for their voices in a world that, quite honestly, doesn’t want to hear them.
The artists, singers and so on featured—especially the women—are a genuine find, many of them like Black Belt Eagle Scout out of Tulsa, that manage to create art in a world that has not made it easy for them. On the other hand, you have pretentious fucks like musician Micah P. Henson, who, in-between drags of weed while on his European tour, brags about his need for suicidal threats, as well his recent rehab stint for drugs.
At first, it seems easy to be visibly annoyed by Henson, but, as you watch Love and Fury, as you see his on-stage idiocy and off-stage stupidity played against other, more serious artists—artists that are actually trying to create something to let people know that we’re still here—it feels like Harjo is purposefully creating a yin and yang to play cinematically off of.
I hope so, at least.
Regardless, Love and Fury will probably receive no love this awards season but, like the film shows us, it isn’t about constant adulation; sometimes, to make the most of what you got, you have to work around the popular periphery, creating surprise fandom by connecting with a person’s untouched heart.
It’s the only way we’ve lasted for this long and, honestly, it’s the only way for any art to truly last.