September 4, 2023

SCREEN | Lily Gladstone Discovers 'The Unknown Country'

"Just kinda floatin'."
Lily Gladstone Morrisa Maltz | The Unknown Country
Music Box Films / Cold Iron Pictures
Acclaimed Native American actress Lily Gladstone (also a co-writer) stars in the moving cross-country road trip indie drama The Unknown Country. Visual artist turned filmmaker Morrisa Maltz crafts an unconventional film telling all the little stories of the lives of strangers you meet along your travels as Gladstone's Tana reconnects with her extended family while mourning the loss of her grandma.

Filmed over four years, it's a lyrical journey focused on the dramatic realism of actual local people in the American Midwest. Traversing snowy landscapes and naturalistic performances permeate the frame, often focused on Gladstone's warmly captivating face as a mundane portrait of small-town life from Minnesota to South Dakota and eventually Dallas.

Gladstone and Maltz make The Unknown Country into a lo-fi but meaningfully worthwhile road trip to go along with an obvious comparison in warmhearted material to something like Nomadland. It's a soulful yet melancholic journey of self-discovery weaving in different elements of Indigenous people and culture through its Midwestern geography.

The Unknown Country screens at the VIFF Centre.

More | YVArcade / Indiewire / Moveable Fest

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