The Deadline Studio at Sundance Film Festival runs January 20-23 at Hotel Park City, where the cast and creatives behind the best and buzziest titles in this year’s lineup sit down with Deadline’s festival team to discuss their movies and the paths they took to get to Park City.
MURDER IN BIG HORN
Directors: Razelle Benally, Matthew Galkin
Logline: Within the last decade, dozens of young Indigenous women and girls from the Crow and Northern Cheyenne Nations have been murdered or have gone missing from Montana’s Big Horn County and its surrounding area. Arrests are rare in these cases; convictions, virtually non-existent. When grieving Native families press law enforcement for answers, they are met with either indifference or silence.
This harrowing three-part docuseries examines the circumstance around each disappearance, the searches for the missing, the details of these deeply problematic law enforcement responses, and the challenges with bringing perpetrators to justice. The series also reveals the historical forces at play that make Native American women some of the most vulnerable people in the country as a whole. Told solely through the perspectives of those involved – Native families, local Native journalists and local law enforcement – what emerges is a powerful portrait of tribal members and their community battling an epidemic of murdered and missing Indigenous women (MMIW) that was set in motion almost 200 years ago.
Panelists: Razelle Benally (director-producer), Matthew Galkin (director-EP), Luella Brien (Journalist, Four Points Press), Lucy Simpson (Executive Director, National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center)
Premiere Date: February 5
First Screening: January 22, 11:25 a.m. MST, Egyptian Theatre
Key Quotes: “When I was first brought on the project, I initially was hesitant because so oftentimes, there’s this issue within media itself of extractive storytelling. So, [I agreed to take part] after talking with Matthew and really hearing him explain that this was going to be a collaboration. Because I myself had always felt so strongly about this issue, being a Native girl growing into a Native woman, this fear of being stolen, disappearing or being murdered has always been my reality. And I have always included an element of social justice in my work. So, to be part of directing this documentary series was just an extension of something I was already doing as a director and filmmaker.” — Razelle Benally
“I think it’s about building relationships, which is part of why the families that are in this docuseries were able and willing to tell their story. For us as Native people in our communities, that’s what we are. We’re relatives. We treat each other as relatives; we’re families. Building relationships is foundational, so when you have people coming in for 18 months, dedicating their lives to telling this story, that’s not just telling a story. That’s building a relationship with this community, and we don’t see that very often in Indian Country.” — Lucy Simpson
Click above to watch the panel video, and track all of our Deadline Studio content here.
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The 2023 Sundance Film Festival takes place from January 19-29. Follow Deadline’s complete coverage of the deals and the doings in Park City here.