In recent years, Chris Eyre’s 1998 film Smoke Signals has been the source of a thousand memes shared by Indigenous people. Among the most popular have been images of Thomas Builds-the-Fire (Evan Adams) calling out “Hey, Victor!” to Victor Joseph (Adam Beach) in a distinctive rez accent.
In Hey, Viktor!, actor Cody Lightning, who played the child version of Beach’s character, revisits that beloved film as director, co-writer, and — playing an outsized version of himself — mockumentary lead. Eager to boost his floundering acting career, the fictional Cody looks to cash in on his old childhood role. He wants to make a sequel for Smoke Signals, in which he would star (as “Viktor,” to avoid a potential lawsuit), alongside the original cast. His first move: hijack the film crew which is documenting his intervention.
My reaction: One of my cinematic blind spots was missing Chris Eyre’s indie gem SMOKE SIGNALS from 1998. Prior to TIFF I tracked down a copy and finally watched the movie, and was simply amazed that I had not seen it until this time. Chris Eyre’s landmark Indian-American gem felt so real and was so funny in its representation of the culture, right down to the charming locals and supporting characters. HEY, VIKTOR focuses on a former child actor trying to make his own movie with the self-imposed fame of playing a small child role in the original movie. The title? Well, SMOKE SIGNALS 2 of course! It’s a fun, fish-out-of-water comedy of errors and even though I was a bit irritated by Cody at times at the lengths he would go to with everyone around him, there’s still a lot to love here. Pretty much everyone from the original movie is here too in a clever way, many of whom bewildered as to why a sequel should be made, and I even loved how Adam Beach is woven into the storyline in an unusual way. I certainly hope there is still a fanbase for SMOKE SIGNALS. Crave is the distributor and I can see a nice streaming release for this, sadly not so much for theatrical.