IDFA Review: Non Western

Despite it being the twenty-first century, interracial marriage is still taboo in many cultures and countries. Indeed, this form of union is often forbidden, whether that’s legally, morally or religiously. Or at least viewed in a different light to other weddings from ‘within’ a ‘community’. Minority groups within wider society are often the most steadfastly traditional. This adherence to ancient customs remains prevalent in many Native American tribes.

Thaddeus and Nanci are a Native/Non-Native Montanan couple planning to tie the knot. As the big day approaches, he wants her to convert to the Cheyenne way of life. However, this would mean that Nanci has to give up her ‘modern ways’ and become submissive to him. The complicating factor is that, as teenagers, they were both adopted into families of different ethnicities. A fact which both brought them together and threatens to tear them apart. Their story is documented in Non Western.

Non Western is a touching film about two people in love trying to deal with past traumas and make a future together. However, they find themselves entangled in a complex web of gender, cultural and identity issues. The viewer may question his intransigence and the fairness of their arrangement, but director Laura Plancarte is more interested in observation. Which is precisely what makes Non Western such a fascinating and empathetic film, captured in lyrical hues.

Non Western screens at IDFA.

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