Neil Diamond and Catherine Bainbridge discuss documentary film “Red Fever” in 2024 Hot Docs festival

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Neil Diamond and Catherine Bainbridge, longtime friends and collaborators spanning over three decades, have always had a natural synergy in their work. According to Diamond, a Cree writer-director, they’ve “always worked well together.” Bainbridge, who is non-Indigenous, adds that they’ve continuously engaged in dialogues about Indigenous and non-Indigenous perspectives.

Their latest collaboration, the documentary “Red Fever,” premiering at Hot Docs in May, explores society’s fascination and idealization of Native Americans. Co-written and co-directed by Diamond (known for “Reel Injun”) and Bainbridge (director of “Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked The World”), the film delves into how Indigenous culture has influenced global facets like fashion, sports, politics, and conservation.

Neil Diamond and Catherine Bainbridge discuss documentary film Red Fever in 2024 Hot Docs festival
Neil Diamond and Catherine Bainbridge discuss documentary film Red Fever in 2024 Hot Docs festival

Produced by Lisa M Roth and executive produced by Bainbridge, Linda Ludwick, and Ernest Webb of Montreal-based Rezolution Pictures, “Red Fever” is slated for a Canadian theatrical release in June. The film will be distributed internationally by Les Films du 3 Mars.

The idea for “Red Fever” emerged prior to the pandemic, spurred by cultural debates like music festivals banning Native American headdresses. Bainbridge notes that when a topic becomes prominent in popular culture, it’s a signal for engagement.

Broadcasters quickly showed interest, and the project gained momentum with commitments from networks like TVO and funding from sources including Canada’s Aboriginal Peoples Television Network, Societe Radio-Canada, and Arte/ZDF in Germany. Additional support came from various Canadian funding bodies and tax credit programs.

Filming began in 2020 but faced pandemic-related challenges, such as location postponements due to curfews and quarantines in Native American communities. The production spanned Canadian regions like Ojibwe country and Nunavut, alongside visits to Navajo areas in the U.S. and the Iroquois Confederacy in New York. International shoots included Paris and Germany, where Diamond interacted with enthusiasts inspired by 19th-century Native American portrayals.

The film’s approach balances humor and sensitivity, avoiding shame while highlighting the beauty and impact of Indigenous influence. Diamond’s narration, infused with his Northern Quebec upbringing, brings a personal perspective to the documentary, emphasizing the complexities of cultural representation and its impact on Indigenous communities.

 

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