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Dance Me Outside

Year: 1995
Language: English
Format: 35mm Colour
Runtime: 87 min
Director: Bruce McDonald
Producer: Bruce McDonald, Brian Dennis
Executive Producer: Norman Jewison, Sarah Hayward
Writer: Don McKellar, John Frizzell, Bruce McDonald, W Kinsella
Cinematographer: Miroslaw Baszak
Editor: Michael Pacek
Sound: Ross Redfern, Keith Elliot, Daniel Pellerin, Peter Kelly
Music: Mychael Danna
Cast: Hugh Dillon, Ryan Black, Adam Beach, Jennifer Podemski, Lisa LaCroix, Michael Greyeyes, Kevin Hicks
Production Company: Shadow Shows, Yorktown Productions

It is one of the summer’s last perfect weekends and eighteen-year-old Silas Crow (Ryan Black) is passing the time on his Northern Ontario Indian reservation with his best friend, Frank Fencepost (Adam Beach). Debating with Frank whether they should apply to mechanic school in Toronto or stick close to the rez, Silas is also sparring with his girlfriend Sadie (Jennifer Podemski) and waiting for the wild Gooch (Michael Greyeyes) to return from prison.

Silas’s family receives a visit from his sister Illianna (Lisa LaCroix), who returns from Toronto with her white, yuppie husband Robert (Kevin Hicks). Meanwhile, Gooch’s triumphant return is cause for celebration. A lively Saturday night bar brawl leads to the murder of a young Native woman, but the rez boys are enraged when a local white troublemaker, Clarence Gaskill (Hugh Dillon), is only charged with manslaughter and slapped with a lenient two-year sentence.

Exactly one year later, that weekend’s events still reverberate. Illianna is under pressure from her mother to have a baby, but Robert’s low sperm count inspires Silas and Frank to fix Illianna up with her ex-boyfriend, Gooch. Meanwhile, word spreads that Gaskill is out on probation and Gooch rallies Silas and the boys to exact revenge. As tensions mount and the inevitable confrontation draws near, justice prevails – in the most surprising and satisfying ways.

Bruce McDonald’s feisty adaptation of a short story by W.P. Kinsella is spirited and entertaining and features charismatic and charming performances from a stellar ensemble cast. Less concerned with politics than people, Dance Me Outside is imbued with a happy and hopeful tone and possesses the same offbeat touches that made McDonald’s earlier films so likeable.

A double Genie Award winner, the film opened the Perspective Canada programme at the 1994 Toronto International Film Festival® and received uniformly positive reviews upon its commercial release in Canada and the United States. It was later adapted into the short-lived CBC-TV series The Rez.