Institute History

  • 2002 January Screenwriters Lab


In this powerful retelling of 1984, George Orwell's classic tale of power, politics, and the individual mind is transferred to the cold prairie streets of Canada.

Native American Winston (known only as "Smith" to those around him) is a vicious thug in a vast all-inclusive street gang called Invictus, whose leader is the rapper called "Big Brother." Winston and his buddies spend their time selling drugs and videotaping hideous assaults, which are shown as videos at the nearby Truth Club. Fear is omnipresent; everyone is afraid of being taken away by the Reapers, mystery men who ride in black cars.

Winston endlessly repeats the Invictus mantra: "Memory is death." But after finding a relic of another time—a young girl's diary simply labeled "1985"—he finds himself recording his own feelings, his words slowly forming a private rebellion. He meets Julia, a girl from the Truth Club, and despite their cultural conditioning against love, that's what they find themselves falling into. Inevitably, though, they cannot fight the spiritual destructiveness of the omnipotent Invictus, which refuses to allow original thought or human emotion to exist in the world it controls.

1985 is the story of a naive iconoclast's futile resistance against totalitarianism; the slow motion study of a mind meeting a steel-toed boot. The framing of an aboriginal conflict as Orwellian forces us to realize how truly 1984 speaks to the psycho-political realities of the modern urban Indian.


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