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Human Rights Watch Film Fest 2021 Women Directors: Meet Brooke Swaney – “Daughter of a Lost Bird”

“Daughter of a Misplaced Hen” is Brooke Swaney’s first function documentary. She not too long ago made the Blacklist’s Inaugural Indigenous Record with “Tinder On The Rez” alongside together with her co-writer Angela Tucker. She additionally produced “Bella Vista” (Worldwide Movie Competition Rotterdam), “Sixty 4 Flood” (PBS & PBS Digital), and the podcast “All My Relations” with Matika Wilbur and Dr. Adrienne Keene. In 2019, she was chosen to take part as a NATIVe Fellow on the European Movie Market/Berlinale. Swaney is an enrolled member of the Blackfeet Nation and a descendent of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes.

“Daughter of a Misplaced Hen” is screening on the New York version of the 2021 Human Rights Watch Movie Competition. This 12 months’s fest is digital resulting from COVID-19, and runs Could 19-27.

W&H: Describe the movie for us in your individual phrases.

BS: Filmed over the course of seven years, “Daughter of a Misplaced Hen” is an intimate journey with Kendra Mylnechuk Potter as she reconnects together with her delivery mom and her indigeneity.

Kendra and I met once I was casting for a brief fiction movie, “OK Breathe Auralee.” Later, I discovered that her background as a transracial Native adoptee echoed her character within the quick movie. It was an odd coincidence.

The extra that I received to know Kendra, her craving to know extra and really feel extra comfy claiming an id that had been taken from her — by no fault of her personal, or her adoptive household, and even her delivery household, however relatively by bigger systemic and thus extra insidious forces — it felt like this was a narrative we couldn’t ignore.

W&H: What drew you to this story?

BS: I’ve at all times been fascinated by adoption tales — particularly interested by nature vs. nurture or how the individual you’ll be able to develop as much as be relies on your socio-economic scenario. In some methods, I can determine with adoptees as a result of I didn’t meet the vast majority of my dad’s facet of my household till I used to be about 19 years outdated.

My mother’s facet of the household, like most Native households, is so good at family tree, monitoring down relations, and talking about “household secrets and techniques.” It felt drilled into me at a fairly younger age that figuring out who you might be and who you come from is supremely essential.

From my circle of relatives, I do know that retaining Native households related is an enormous battle due to the U.S. authorities’s insurance policies to dismantle and disrupt us — and sadly, it echoes throughout generations at this time.

W&H: What would you like individuals to consider after they watch the movie?

BS: After watching the movie, I hope individuals could have a greater understanding of how eradicating Indigenous youngsters from their communities has an impact. Not simply on the kid, but in addition on the Indigenous group that they arrive from. Youngsters like Kendra and [her biological mother] April have rights to belong to their tribe, to inherit particular rights and items — and people issues shouldn’t be taken away from them.

W&H: What was the largest problem in making the movie?

BS: Making a movie over such a protracted time period generally is a little bit of a problem. Funding at instances inhibited our means to maneuver ahead shortly, however on the identical time, if we had completed the movie a 12 months and even two years earlier, we’d have missed among the most impactful moments in the direction of the top of the movie. So, Creator was looking for us in that manner, and the movie occurred the way in which it was meant to.

W&H: How did you get your movie funded? Share some insights into how you bought the movie made. 

BS: After Humanities Montana gave us our first substantial quantity of funding, we received main funding from Imaginative and prescient Maker Media. With out each of those organizations and their dedication and perception in our mission, there is no such thing as a manner we’d have been capable of make or end this movie.

We put out so many grant purposes that I misplaced monitor of all of the locations that we utilized, and oftentimes, it was laborious to get the rejections, however these few glimmers of assist through the years actually saved us afloat. Thanks Girls in Movie, Prop, VMM, and HM! And now Nia Tero helps us with our Affect marketing campaign. We’re so grateful.

W&H: What impressed you to change into a filmmaker?

BS: I’ve at all times been bummed out in regards to the lack of Indigenous illustration — exterior of stereotypes or western Hollywood Indians — within the mainstream media and collective consciousness.

Once I was a psychology undergrad, I did a small analysis mission about it. That was once I actually began interested by how I might get within the trade. buddy inspired me to use to the most effective program within the nation, and so I ended up going to NYU Tisch for grad faculty.

W&H: What’s the most effective and worst recommendation you’ve obtained?

BS: Finest recommendation: Maintain pushing onward and keep sturdy.

Worst recommendation: Simply make mainstream motion pictures. I don’t actually know what that meant, however I used to be fairly positive it was to inform me to not inform Indigenous tales.

W&H: What recommendation do you could have for different ladies administrators?

BS: I imply, I don’t even know the place to begin right here. I believe it’s about constructing a group that you simply belief, that you recognize has your again and you’ve got theirs. And attain out for assist. Folks love giving their opinion and recommendation! I do know I do!

W&H: Identify your favourite woman-directed movie and why.

BS: One in all my favourite movies of all time is “Cléo from 5 to 7” by Agnès Varda. Simply imaging her in a very macho group of fellows making such a masterpiece is at all times an inspiration.

W&H: How are you adjusting to life in the course of the COVID-19 pandemic? Are you retaining artistic, and if that’s the case, how?

BS: The pandemic has been one of many busiest instances of my life. Since I couldn’t actually do a lot exterior of the home, I simply buckled down and labored — labored on ending the movie, took alternatives as they got here, give up my day job on the ACLU of Montana to concentrate on the movie, submitted to alternatives for the fiction facet of my work. Simply saved grinding. I additionally watched plenty of TV, motion pictures, and docs.

W&H: The movie trade has a protracted historical past of underrepresenting individuals of colour onscreen and behind the scenes and reinforcing — and creating — unfavourable stereotypes. What actions do you assume have to be taken to make Hollywood and/or the doc world extra inclusive?

BS: Indigenous individuals shouldn’t be an afterthought. We must be the primary thought, particularly when making movies about us. If you’re a Non-Native filmmaker, how are you bringing in and dealing with an Indigenous filmmaker in your group? With greater productions, do you could have Indigenous expertise above-the-line? In case you don’t, you must.


Edward J Cameron
Edward J Cameron
Freelance organizer. Gamer. Social media specialist. blog reader. Thinker.


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