Backbone of the World

Director: George Burdeau

Institute History

  • 1998 Sundance Film Festival


In Backbone of the World, veteran filmmaker George Burdeau has made what was recently described as “possibly the first Native American postmodern documentary.” Combining experimental and cinema vérité formats, Burdeau travels home to the Blackfeet Reservation in northern Montana. His healing journey parallels that of the legendary Scarface, who traveled afar to bring knowledge back to the people. Backbone of the World gives voice to the Blackfeet community by weaving an ancient tribal story together with contemporary community dilemmas: the threat of oil drilling on the reservation and the issue of modernism versus tradition.

Backbone of the World George Burdeau, Director George Burdeau is a veteran producer and director of film and television who has been associated with PBS for twenty years. His credits include “Forest Spirits,” “Surviving Columbus,” the television series “Colonization of the Pacific,” and a recently completed one-hour documentary on the Cherokee, Cherry Tree. He recently directed the Plains Indian segment of “The Native Americans” for Turner Broadcasting.

— Heather Rae

Screening Details


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