Native Youth Leadership Alliance

(Jesse Shortbull) Filming begins for ‘INDIAN’


Jesse Shortbull (Ogala Lakota) begins filming for short of INDIAN this week in Pine Ridge, South Dakota.  Jesse co-wrote the screenplay and is honored to work and learn from such talented mentors who have been featured at the Sundance Film Festival.


Twenty years after his exile from the reservation, the pursuit of forgiveness between a son and his ailing father leads to the discovery of identity in modern day Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. INDIAN is a story about the truth and reconciliation process of a family at the threshold of breaking off from the cycle of violence.
Project Background

Stories of exile and forced migration often come from a gross miscarriage of justice. In times of personal crisis, the course of that person’s life and overall perception of reality will either harden the senses or it may allow for the beautiful expression of the human soul to awake. INDIAN is an immigrant’s story, except this immigrant is displaced by his own family, country, and history. It is a unique and compelling story about the diaspora of North American Indians who left the reservation for the city and the arduous return home. This “coming home” story is not only to a physical location, but also to a modern idea of what it means to be Indigenous.
The story of INDIAN began for Andrés Torres-Vives (director/co-writer; Book of the Border; The Bridge) during sweat lodge ceremonies on a Kumeyaay reservation years ago. Andres was born in Chile and immigrated to the U.S. at the height of Augusto Pinochet’s military dictatorship. His personal search for his South American Native identity and connection to an indigenous America led him into the heart of the Lakota Nation in Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. In 2010, he teamed up with producer James Q. Chan (HOWL, 10 Days That Unexpectedly Changed America). James was born and left Vietnam after spending 2 years in a refugee camp in Indonesia shortly after the fall of Saigon before settling in North America. Together they developed the story further and began organizing a strong team that consists of cinematographer Paul de Lumen (Zona Sur; Sundance World Dramatic Prize 2010), Pine Ridge Reservationlocals including story consultant Walter Littlemoon (author; They Called Me Uncivilized), and Jesse Short Bull (co-writer; ABC/Disney Writer’s Tract; NYLA member).The film uses a familiar structure of a “coming home” story, but places it in a new cinematic setting where traditions run deep: the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota, a place rich in history, tragedy, and struggle. We peeled back the layers on the theme of self-discovery and placed it in the heart and wisdom of the Oglala Lakota Nation. Combining honest drama with the heartfelt humor in the face of adversity, INDIAN is an emotionally gripping, character-based film that will be both accessible and aesthetically accomplished.