Festival PREMIERE

DOCUMENTARY SHORT | USA | 37 MINUTES | English

Who She Is

Abbi. Sheila. Jocelyn. Lela. These are women hidden within the statistics of Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women epidemic. Meet them. See them. Say their names. They are “Who She Is”.

Who She Is tells the story of four women caught in the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW) epidemic in the U.S. By bringing these missing women to life on screen, through animation and first-person storytelling, the documentary aims to humanize the people behind the statistics of MMIW.

CAST & CREDITS

Directed by Jordan Dresser (Northern Arapaho), Sophie Barksdale

Jordan Dresser is Who She Is Co-Director and Co-Producer. Jordan recently served as the Chairman of the Northern Arapaho Business Council leading Tribal affairs on the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming. Jordan is also a journalist, filmmaker and through the Northern Arapaho Tribal Historic Preservation Office plays a key role in repatriation of Tribal artifacts and ancestral remains. In 2022 Jordan served as an advisor on the Not Invisible Act Commission through the Department of Interior. The Commission has been tasked with addressing the MMIW/P crisis by making recommendations for better coordination across law enforcement and intergovernmental organizations and supporting survivors and families. In September 2022 Jordan was recognized by President Joe Biden for being a “Uniter” at the United We Stand Summit part of the federal initiative to combat hate and extremism in the U.S.

Sophie Barksdale is Who She Is Co-Director and Co-Producer and has been with Caldera Productions since 2016, having relocated from Australia. Prior to Caldera, Sophie worked for the Bord Scannan na hEireann/the Irish Film Board (now Screen Ireland) and on film festivals in Australia (The Human Rights Arts and Film Festival), Ireland (Stranger than Fiction Documentary film festival) and the U.S. (Vail Film Festival in Colorado). During her time with Caldera, Sophie has had a hand in all the Caldera films, including Co-Producing the Heartland Emmy nominee, The State of Equality (2019) and the Independent Lens broadcasted feature, Home From School: The Children of Carlisle (2021). Who She Is is her directorial debut and first foray in animated film.

Director

Jordan Dresser (Northern Arapaho), Sophie Barksdale

Producer

Jordan Dresser (Northern Arapaho), Sophie Barksdale

Screenwriter

Jordan Dresser (Northern Arapaho), Sophie Barksdale

Director Statement

JORDAN: When I came up with the idea of Who She Is, I wanted to honestly portray and humanize the MMIW stories that were swirling in my Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho community in Wyoming. For me these stories of violence against Indigenous women and men were sadly not new and have been a consistent narrative in Indian Country since First Contact.

Historically, Indigenous women have been romanticized by American culture such as the case of Sacajewa and Pocahontas, whose lives and stories have been totally distorted. The truth is that our women are disproportionately harmed in this society. We chose to show the stories of women in this film to highlight the issues of gender-based violence. In giving the women a voice on the screen, I wanted them to come alive and offer a slice of justice that I felt like they deserved. Making Who She Is has been very eye opening and has given me a deeper appreciation for how strong our Indigenous communities are, because we unfortunately handle pain at a really high rate. In the end, though, this film has made me realize how important healing and closure is not just for MMIW families, but also for our whole Indigenous community. I hope the film has a deep impact in how we respond to help Indigenous men and women who go missing, and ultimately find solutions to make our community safer.

SOPHIE: Who She Is looks at four Indigenous women from Wind River who have gone missing or have been murdered over the last four decades. This crisis is not new and we wanted to highlight that with our women’s stories. We decided to tell the women’s stories from the first person narrative, to give it that sense of immediacy: for each woman to be telling YOU her story, to create that sense of connection and engagement. We also wanted to give that agency and power back to these four women, to reclaim their own narrative. We carefully chose these four women’s stories from Wind River to highlight specific issues and risks that impact women directly, such as domestic violence and human trafficking. Violence against women is a world-wide issue, but for Indigenous women gender-based violence is at epidemic levels, and we cannot stand by and be idle on this.

MMIW is not a light subject and when you spend time with affected families you carry their pain away with you. But as a white Australian woman I come from a place of privilege and if I can elevate Indigenous women’s voices in any way, in order for them to be heard more clearly, it is my responsibility to do so. Women should lift other women up and that is why I am making this film.

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Showtimes

March 1st – March 8th

Streaming Exclusively
on
Red Nation Television Network

Native Women in Film & Television In All Media is a program of Red Nation Celebration Institute

Native Women in Film and Television in All Media is located on the ancestral lands of native peoples.
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