Director: Nathan Frankowski/2016
Street Date: November 7, 2017/Kino Lorber
Note: The following is a brief synopsis from my ZekeFilm theatrical review of Te Ata, followed by a breakdown of the Blu-Ray release of this film:
Te Ata is the story of a fascinating woman named Mary Thompson Fisher, a member of the Chickasaw Nation who grew up in the Oklahoma Territory, and then State, listening to her father tell the tales of their people. She would grow up and take on the stage name Te Ata, a nickname from when she was young, which means “bearer of the morning”, where she would go on to perform for audiences around the world. Her humble beginnings, the struggle to fulfill her dreams, and the importance she played for the Chickasaw Nation makes her story an inspiring one to tell.
Q’orianka Kilcher (The New World) plays Te Ata, a strong and spirited young woman who dreams to one day be a performer on Broadway. Her parents, T.B. (Gil Birmingham-Wind River, Hell or High Water) and Bertie (Brigid Brannagh) Thompson, love and encourage their daughter to be the spirited woman that she is, but her father longs to keep her grounded in the practical world they live in, and not the idealistic one that they hope for. Her mother, being white, means that Te Ata has her feet planted in two cultures, while her heart is 100% Chickasaw.
Te Ata is a wonderfully inspirational figure, not just for the Chickasaw Nation, but for all Americans who have much to learn from the lessons she taught through her stories. The Chickasaw Nation had direct involvement with the making of this film, and as such are finding a new medium to tell their stories through. Q’orianka Kilcher’s portrayal of Te Ata demonstrates the vividness of these stories, and in this film we learn an important one that our nation still needs today:
“We may be different birds of many colors, but we are all just one bird”.
Te Ata’s legacy should remain intact, as we have much more to learn from her. This film is one small step to making sure that happens.
About the Blu-Ray:
Earlier this year, Te Ata played to limited theaters across the country. Kino Lorber is now releasing the film on Blu-Ray. A couple of extras are included in this release that takes us a bit more behind the scenes where we get not just a sense of the “making of the film”, but also a bit more of the cultural importance Te Ata plays in our world today, and the ways that the filmmakers sought to honor both her legacy, but also that of the Chickasaw Nation.
The entire film was shot in Oklahoma, where Te Ata was from. Even though parts of the story take place in New York, and Washington, D.C., every scene was made using location shooting in Oklahoma. Scenes featuring the Senate chambers in the Nation’s capital, to interior scenes of the White House, all took place in well chosen building in the state.
A particularly tricky film scene location to pull off is Grand Central Station, yet Te Ata is able to believably convey these locations, as we see in the Behind-the-Scenes footage included in this Blu-Ray release. Small Oklahoma towns contained architecture that doubled as 1930’s New York City, and the actual Chickasaw Capital, the Chickasaw White House, and a turn of the 20th century house, built by Chickasaw builders are seen prominently in the film.
Q’orianka Kilcher is even given the real-life Te Ata’s belt and garb to wear as she portrays this great storyteller, telling her stories in the film. Much detail is woven into the film, that one might not notice on just a surface viewing of the film. In this way, this Behind-the-Scenes footage is a welcomed edition to this Blu-Ray release. There is also a trailer of the film as well as a music video for a song featured in the film entitled “Toward the Rising Son”.
The film is in 2.35:1, 1920x1080P format. It is in color with a running time of approximately 105 minutes. It is presented in English and 5.1 Surround Sound.