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Chris Eyre

Chris Eyre

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Also Known As: Died:
Born: December 4, 1968 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Warm Springs Indian Reservation, Oregon, USA Profession: director, screenwriter, producer

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

An Indian of Cheyenne-Arapaho descent, Chris Eyre grew up as the adoptive son of white parents in Portland, OR. He re-established ties to his heritage at the age of 18 and later tracked down his birth mother in an effort to come to terms with his heritage. While attending NYU's graduate film school, Eyre wrote and directed "Tenacity" (1995), a short centered on a pair of Indian boys who encounter a group of rednecks. "Tenacity" received several prizes and grants allowing the screenwriter-director to approach Indian author Sherman Alexie and express interest in adapting several of his short stories as a film. The pair workshopped the material at the Sundance Filmmaker's and Writer's Lab, resulting in the short "Somebody Kept Saying Powwow" (1995), based on a section of a longer screenplay that was eventually filmed as "Smoke Signals" (1998), adapted from Alexie's short story collection "The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven." Following the adventures of two Indians who venture from the reservation to Arizona to collect the remains of the father of one, "Smoke Signals" was the first major theatrical feature written, directed and starring Indians. Shown at the 1998 Sundance Film Festival (where...

An Indian of Cheyenne-Arapaho descent, Chris Eyre grew up as the adoptive son of white parents in Portland, OR. He re-established ties to his heritage at the age of 18 and later tracked down his birth mother in an effort to come to terms with his heritage. While attending NYU's graduate film school, Eyre wrote and directed "Tenacity" (1995), a short centered on a pair of Indian boys who encounter a group of rednecks. "Tenacity" received several prizes and grants allowing the screenwriter-director to approach Indian author Sherman Alexie and express interest in adapting several of his short stories as a film. The pair workshopped the material at the Sundance Filmmaker's and Writer's Lab, resulting in the short "Somebody Kept Saying Powwow" (1995), based on a section of a longer screenplay that was eventually filmed as "Smoke Signals" (1998), adapted from Alexie's short story collection "The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven." Following the adventures of two Indians who venture from the reservation to Arizona to collect the remains of the father of one, "Smoke Signals" was the first major theatrical feature written, directed and starring Indians. Shown at the 1998 Sundance Film Festival (where it won two awards including the Fillmaker's Trophy), it went on to earn strong critical notices. Eyre had a handful of projects in development as of 1998, including "The Carlyle Indian School," a Showtime movie about the assimilation of Indian children in the 1870s, and a proposed biopic of activist Leonard Peltier. Also screened at the 1998 Sundance Festival was the director's documentary about Indian performance artist James Luna "Bringing It All Back Home" (1997).

After a brief hiatus, Eyre directed the feature "Skins," (2002) an inspirational drama about two Sioux brothers and their incredible relationship.

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Filmographyclose complete filmography

DIRECTOR:

1.
  Hide Away (2011)
2.
  Skins (2002) Director
3.
  Smoke Signals (1998) Director
4.
5.
  Tenacity (1994) Director
6.
7.
  Thief of Time, A (2003) Director
8.
  Skinwalkers (2002) Director

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 Skins (2002) Cop
2.
 Robert Redford: Hollywood Outlaw (2000) Interviewee
3.
 Skinwalkers (2002) Judge
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

1997:
Co-produced and directed "Bringing It All Back Home", a documentary about Indian performance artist James Luna (also co-producer); shown at 1998 Sundance Film Festival
2002:
Directed "Skins", a contemporary comedy-drama about Native Americans; screened at Sundance
:
Traveled to Oklahoma at the age of 18 to receive tribal diploma, officially joining the Cheyenne-Arapaho
1994:
Wrote and directed short film "Tenacity"; shown at 1995 Sundance Film Festival
:
Grew up in Portland. Oregon with adoptive parents
:
Helmed the TV adapation of Tony Hillerman's novel "Skinwalkers" (lensed 2002) for airing on PBS' "Mystery!"
1998:
"Smoke Signals", adapted from Alexie's "The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven", premiered at Sundance Film Festival and became the first major theatrical film written and directed by and starring Indians
1996:
Became the US recipient of the Cinema 100/Sundance International Award
1995:
Together with writer Sherman Alexie, began develping material at the Sundance Filmmakers and Screenwriter's Lab, resulting in the short, "Somebody Kept Saying Powwow", culled from the second act of the longer script that would become "Smoke Signals"
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Education

Tisch School of the Arts, New York University: New York, New York - 1998

Notes

Eyre received first prize in the graduate division of NYU's annual First Run Film Festival in 1995 for "Tenacity". The film was later shown at the Independent Feature Film Market.

"Burning that house [during the filming of 'Smoke Signals'] was a lot of fun. By the end of the movie, I wanted to burn things. I was like, 'Let's burn that! What do you mean, I can't burn that? I'm making a movie, I want to burn it.' They're like, 'The movie's over.' Really, well, I still want to burn it.' 'Well, we're not responsible.' It was surprising how fast it went up. This fire was so big, it was unbelievable. It was like a bonfire, because it could get oxygen in the middle. They had pipes and they were pumping gas in there and there was fire all around. The wind was blowing. It was so cool. I had three Panavisions going on at the same time. That's when you look around and go, 'this is cool.'" --Chris Eyre to Anthony Kaufman in "Having Words With..." on citysearch-nyc.iconnet.net

About meeting his blood mother: "I remember sitting in a parking lot at Target, being one exit away, and calling her and hearing her say, 'Yeah, we're here.' I'm one exit from seeing my life. Do you want to go and knock on the door? It wasn't butterflies-in-the-stomach, it was more like boulders. Surreal to the point where you can't absorb it. For the few minutes I just sat with my mother, my grandmother, my brother and twin sisters and nobody said anything. What do you say? And then you take a breath.

"But I needed to do it for my own health. You need to look and see your own image. The biggest thing I've ever done in my life was to look at my mother for the first time. I couldn't die without doing that." --Eyre quoted in Newsday, July 16, 1998.

"We need to give out portrayal of ourselves. Every non-Indian writer writes about 1860 to 1890 pretty much, and there is no non-Indian writer that can write movies about contemporary Indians. Only Indians can. Indians are usually romanticized. Non-Indians are totally irrepsonsible with the appropriation of Indians, because any time tou have an Indian in a movie, it's political. They're not used as people, they're used as points." --Chris Eyre in Newsday, July 16, 1998.

"Indian country is really small. I had a friend who knew Sherman [Alexie], so I called him and said, 'Hey, what's this guy's number?' I mean, if you can't call an Indian guy and say, 'Hey, give me a number,' then what's this world coming to." --Eyre quoted in Indie, July-August, 1998.

Companions close complete companion listing

companion:
Lori Pourier. Dated since 1996; mother of Shahiyela.

Family close complete family listing

daughter:
Shahiyela. Mother Lori Pourier.

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