Bowl of Bone: Tale of the Syuwe

Bowl of Bone: Tale of the Syuwe

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Running time:

114 minutes


Available on DVD

Closed Captioned:


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An intriguing film that defies classification and combines biography, dreams, documentary, and journalistic narration, Bowl of Bone was directed by Jan-Marie Martell in collaboration with Interior Salish (Nlaka'pamux) herbalist Annie Zetco York. The film was shot over a 15-year period in which the expatriate American woman's spiritual quest linked up with the life and death of a native visionary healer in the wilds of British Columbia.

Driven by a spiritual hunger, Jan-Marie ascends into the haunting landscape of the Fraser Canyon and enters the ritualized lives of Annie, the syuwe (shaman), and Annie's cousin Arthur, a trickster of unqualified wit and finesse. On the threshold of possibility, Jan-Marie discovers that her own lack of faith disqualifies her from undertaking the ritual practice Annie offers to teach her. In a round of both forbidding and humorous encounters, Jan-Marie reaches a plateau of readiness, only to discover that Annie has been drawn into her own darkness. Through the trance-like ambience of the film, cultural stereotypes melt away as this powerful portrait of an extraordinary friendship proffers the universal possibility of hope, strength, and acceptance in the face of human frailty and cultural difference.

Award(s): Eagle Spirit Award, American Indian Film Festival; Best Film Over 60 Minutes, and Award of Excellence (Narration), Atlantic Film Festival; Best of Festival/Jury Award, Northwest Film & Video Festival; Honourable Mention (Society's Concerns category), American Film & Video Association; Gold Award (Ethnic & Cultural), Houston Worldfest; Award of Excellence, Vancouver Film Festival

Also available as a 16mm print with advanced notice.

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