Distributed by Women Make Movies, 462 Broadway, New York, NY 10013; 212-925-0606
Produced by Katja Esson
Directed by Katja Esson
DVD, color, 75 min.
Sr. High-General Adult
Biography, Labor Relations, Multicultural Studies, Native American Studies
Reviewed by Ryan Luce, D’Youville College, Buffalo, NY
Date Entered: 8/22/2012
Skydancer is a harrowing documentary about Native American Iron Workers who tempt fate every time a high rise is being built in New York City. The film follows a group of experienced Mohawk Iron Workers as they deal with the complexities of having to be away from their families for extended periods of time and the toll this takes on them. The film also goes into stereotypes that have led to this tribe of Native Americans being associated with iron work.
The film goes into great depth about the average life of a Mohawk Iron Worker including how they live away from their families for 5 or more days at a time. The film’s strength is in allowing the Native Americans to tell about their upbringing and how they started being Iron Workers. Much about being an Iron Worker is generational but many Native American children no longer want to do that type of work. Skydancer also goes into the community where all of the Mohawk Iron Workers live on the border of Canada and the United States. The film does a superb job of telling the history of Mohawk stereotypes when America was being founded and how they were “supposedly” not scared of heights. The documentary lightly dabbles in racism at work and how this can affect their ability to work. The pacing of the film is great, helping to convey the film’s message.
Skydancer comes highly recommended because it shows an otherwise unseen aspect of construction work that is highly dangerous. It tries to break the existing stereotypes of Mohawk Iron Workers.