Sherman Alexie hard at work on 'sovereign' movie
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MAY 11, 2001

If Indian Country has been wondering what Sherman Alexie has been up to lately, the pondering should stop. Well, maybe.

A year after he made his decision to leave Hollywood over conflicts with a major movie studio about his artistic vision, Alexie on Thursday told Indianz.Com he is hard at work on a "sovereign" movie: produced, written, directed, produced, mixed, marketed, funded, promoted, and distributed by Indians.

"Its a sovereign movie," said Alexie. "Think about that."

In this case, the Indian behind this independent production is the "Toughest" one himself: author / poet / drum group singer / basketball player extraordinaire Sherman Alexie.

The new project is based around "The Business of Fancydancing," he told Indianz.Com. Published in 1991, the collection of poems and short stories brought Alexie, then a virtual unknown, widespread critical acclaim.

A New York Times critic said it was "wide-ranging, dexterous and consistently capable of raising your neck hair." Not bad for a first time effort.

Since then, the world has grown to love the man behind Victor Joseph and Thomas Builds-the-Fire, stars of 1998's Smoke Signals. But Alexie's future on the silver screen was cast in doubt he decided last June to leave the motion picture machine that is Hollywood.

Yet the seemingly busy Alexie -- who says he's not really that busy but admitted his multiple media projects paint him as schizophrenic -- wasn't one to let go of his movie dreams. He's been working on his "Fancydancing" pic and will soon be heading to his boyhood home, the Spokane Reservation in Washington, to do some filming.

And when its finished, Alexie will do what he does best: promote. Not only does he plan on releasing the movie on his web site, he wants to show it anywhere he can.

So for those without a speedy Internet connection, there just might a showing at a bingo hall or commodity distribution center around the corner.

In the meantime, Alexie can be found at lecture halls, bookstores, powwows, and universities throughout the nation, talking about familiar topics: why he still hates mascots, why white women flock to him, why Louise Erdrich is one of the greatest writers in the universe, and why he's not tired of Smoke Signals. In Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, yesterday, he was also meeting fans, signing (and selling) a lot of books, and doing a lot of laughing.

But Alexie will soon be facing one of his toughest battles yet. Next month, he'll be defending himself at The World Heavyweight Championship Poetry Bout in Taos, New Mexico.

Can he win it for the fourth time? Inquiring Indianz.Com readers wanted to know. But after graciously greeting hundreds of adorers, Alexie was too tired to give a preview of his skills last night.

So the world waits in suspense as Alexie prepares to go up against challenger Saul Williams. Ringside seats might still be available for the Saturday, June 16 event.

Relevant Links:
Sherman Alexie -
Taos Poetry Circus -
Saul Williams -

Related Stories:
Sherman Alexie on 60 Minutes II (3/21)
Native filmmakers shoot for the stars (12/06)
Comedy tour to hit the road (9/05)
Inside Sherman Alexie (6/30)
Sherman leaving Hollywood (6/23)
Sherman in the Spotlight (5/30)

Get your Sherman gear, Its Coeur d'elicious!
The Toughest Indian in the World (AllNative US$24)
One Stick Song (AllNative US$15)
The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fist Fight in Heaven (AllNative US$12.50)
Smoke Signals: The Movie (AllNative US$24)
Smoke Signals: The Soundtrack (AllNative US$18)
Smoke Signals: The Unofficial Commemorative Fry Bread Set (AllNative)

From Amazon.Com:
The Business of Fancydancing : Stories and Poems (US$12)