Leya Hale on Tackling the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women Epidemic in “Bring Her Home”

Leya Hale comes from the Sisseton Wahpeton Dakota and Din Nations. She is a producer for Twin Cities PBS and is finest identified for her first function documentary, “The Peoples Protectors,” a Vision Maker Media grant manufacturing, and winner of the 2019 Upper Midwest Emmy Award for Best Cultural Documentary. In 2020, Hale was awarded the Sundance Institute’s Merata Mita Fellowship for Indigenous Artists and attended the 2020 Berlinale European Film Market as a NATIVe Fellow. When not producing function movies, Leya works on a wide range of brief type content material in efforts to create social change inside the higher Midwest area.

“Bring Her Home will probably be broadcast regionally on Twin Cities PBS (TPT) and nationally on PBS stations, and the movie will probably be accessible for streaming on tpt.org beginning March 21. A digital dialogue about the documentary and the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women epidemic will take place March 15 from 6:00-7:30 p.m. CDT.

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

LH: “Bring Her Home” tells the story of three Indigenous girls preventing to vindicate and honor their kinfolk who’re victims in the rising epidemic of the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women disaster. Artist Angela Two Stars, activist Mysti Babineau, and State Representative Ruth Buffalo of North Dakota every try to search out therapeutic and hope for themselves and their Native group whereas navigating the oppressive programs that caused this very disaster.

W&H: What drew you to this story?

LH: Native girls make up lower than one p.c of the U.S. inhabitants but face homicide charges which might be greater than 10 instances the nationwide common. As an Indigenous storyteller with entry to a trusted public media platform, I felt a accountability to leverage this entry to assist convey additional consideration to this subject.

Although telling tales of ache and loss might be traumatizing, I’ve made it my obligation to not solely spotlight the challenges my folks face, however to supply tales of hope, resilience, and therapeutic.

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

LH: Indigenous folks proceed to endure from the results of colonization, systemic oppression, and historic trauma. Many of the points we face immediately, equivalent to the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women epidemic, are a direct results of previous U.S. Federal Indian Policies.

As the struggle for social justice continues to speed up in this nation, it is crucial for folks to encourage and help Indigenous girls leaders who’re preventing to convey consciousness to this ongoing epidemic whereas reclaiming Indigenous girls’s energy and standing.

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

LH: “Bring Her Home” launched manufacturing in February 2020, however on account of the COVID-19 pandemic, we needed to halt manufacturing for six months. Once resumed, our manufacturing crew was very restricted, inflicting some challenges in executing our authentic imaginative and prescient. Adapting to the present circumstances whereas sustaining secure in-person interactions with the forged was typically difficult.

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

LH: “Bring Her Home” is a co-production of Twin Cities PBS and Vision Maker Media (VMM). VMM is the premiere supply of public media by and about Native Americans. They work with VMM-funded producers to develop, produce, and distribute applications for all public media.

Our main funder is from the Minnesota Legacy Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund, with extra funding supplied by the HRK Foundation, Sundance Institute Indigenous Programs Merata Mita Fellowship for Indigenous Artists, Bewilder Films, and the Womens Foundation of Minnesota.

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

LH: Growing up in the Los Angeles space, house to the largest off-reservation Native inhabitants, the lack of Native illustration in Hollywood impacted my self-confidence as a youth.

I come from the Sisseton Wahpeton Dakota and Din Nations. Despite dwelling removed from my ancestral homelands, my household raised me with a powerful sense of cultural id, and it was studying from their conventional data, tales, songs, and dances the place I found my ardour for storytelling.

W&H: Whats the finest and worst recommendation you’ve obtained?

LH: The finest recommendation Ive obtained relating to story construction is that theres no distinction between fiction and non-fiction storytelling. Regardless of favor, every type is telling an emotional journey with a narrative arc, so the similar story construction methods might be utilized to each types.

The worst recommendation Ive obtained is that documentaries must at all times embody voice narration, and its finest to make content material palatable for all audiences.

W&H: What recommendation do you will have for different girls administrators?

LH: My recommendation to fellow up-and-coming girls administrators is to review previous and current girls administrators. Whether that be mainstream or native administrators, its good to search out position fashions to study from their work and journeys.

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

LH: One of my favourite woman-directed movies is thirteenth by Ava DuVernay. I like her use of archival footage and its juxtaposition linking previous historic racial inequalities to the on-going mistreatment of her folks. I typically do the similar in my movies, so I discover such inspiration from her strategies.

W&H: How are you adjusting to life throughout the COVID-19 pandemic? Are you conserving artistic, and in that case, how?

LH: As a documentary producer and director with three kids underneath the age of 10, I used to be lucky to work remotely whereas being near my kids on a every day foundation throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. To hold my creativity flowing with restricted in-person interactions with my manufacturing staff, my substitution was listening to many filmmaking podcasts. I had the time to review my favourite movie administrators and editors by listening to a whole bunch of YouTube interviews, all whereas taking household walks and watching my kids play on playgrounds.

W&H: The movie trade has an extended historical past of underrepresenting folks of coloration onscreen and behind the scenes and reinforcing — and creating — destructive stereotypes. What actions do you suppose should be taken to make it extra inclusive?

LH: In an trade the place BIPOC tales are sometimes advised by white males, I believe its essential to assemble a manufacturing staff that displays the tales being advised. I dont imagine its adequate to solely rent BIPOC people as consultants. If you’re telling BIPOC tales, then it’s essential to recruit and rent above the line BIPOC content material makers in key artistic roles. Only then, movies about and for BIPOC communities will probably be nuanced and genuine.


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