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Local film gets noticed

“Native Silence,” a new 28-minute documentary film that includes extensive footage filmed in the Detroit Lakes-White Earth area,  is now in the process of making the rounds on the film festival circuit — with the help of a successful crowdfunding campaign that was spurred, in part, by an August article in the Detroit Lakes Tribune.

Crowdfunding is a relatively new form of public fundraising, mainly via the Internet, for a variety of causes from political campaigns to free software development — and independent movie production.

Through websites like Kickstarter, We Did It, Sellaband, Seedrs and CrowdCube (just to name a few) new artists, filmmakers, designers and other innovative project developers are linked to supporters who believe in the people behind the projects, and provide the monetary support to see the project through.

“Native Silence” is the perfect example of a successful crowdfunding campaign, says its director, Jane Wells.

“I think it’s a very sweet and wonderful story of how crowdfunding does work in the arts,” Wells added.

Through the We Did It website — and the accompanying Detroit Lakes Tribune article, which was published on Aug. 7 — the film’s nonprofit producer, 3 Generations, was able to gather enough funding to see “Native Silence” through the post-production process, and launch it onto the film festival circuit successfully.

The Tribune news article also attracted the attention of area resident Carolyn Jacobs, who “decided to step in as a donor at the producer level,” said Wells, adding that Jacobs has a producer credit on the finished film as a result.

The finished film will make its official debut today at the American Indian Film Festival in San Francisco, said Elizabeth Woller, head of production and marketing for 3 Generations.

On Friday, it will be screened a second time, at the Red Nation Film Festival in Los Angeles, she added.

Today’s debut of “Native Silence” in San Francisco will also be attended by the four Minnesota women who are profiled in the film, Wells noted.

“Native Silence” tells the story of two native women, Joyce and Paulette, and their daughters Amy and Dawn. Their stories touch on many of the larger issues that so many native communities face — drugs, alcohol, familial estrangement, sexual violence, and the “defective foster care and boarding school systems which functioned to isolate and erase Native American identity” for so many years.

Both Joyce and Paulette are products of those defective systems, Wells noted.

“One was put into foster care at a very young age (18 months), and the other was put into the boarding school system and then into foster care,” she said. “They were taken away from their mothers and their families and their culture.”

The film is particularly relevant right now, Woller said, because November is American Indian Heritage Month.

In addition to the two film festival invitations, “Native Silence” has also won an Award of Merit from the worldwide “Best Shorts” competition (

Wells also noted that she expects the film to be available through Video on Demand, as well as on DVD, within approximately six to eight weeks.

“People are going to be able to buy the DVD, or stream it worldwide,” she said. “I hope we’ll be able to bring it to Minnesota and show it in a theater there too. It would be wonderful for the people whose stories were told in this film to be able to bring it to their hometowns.”

Follow Detroit Lakes Newspapers reporter Vicki Gerdes on Twitter at @VickiLGerdes.

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 16 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Lake Park-Audubon School Board. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.

(218) 844-1454