Smoke Signals was based on a short story entitled This is What it Means to Say Phoenix, Arizona from Sherman Alexie's short story collection The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven. It tells the story of Victor Joseph played by Adam Beach and his odyssey to Phoenix, Arizona to collect his recently deceased father's ashes. He is accompanied on this trip by a childhood friend Thomas Builds-The-Fire, played by Evan Adams.

This is a story of forgiveness, stereotypes, alcoholism, friendship and anger. The movie portrays life on 'The Rez' vividly and accurately and with great humour. Be sure to watch for the Reservation weatherman and traffic report and the sisters in the car that only drives in reverse.

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