Please join us in the making of this historic documentary about the Lakota hero in high tops, SuAnne Big Crow.
"There is a better way." -SuAnne Big Crow
In 1992, a teenager named SuAnne Big Crow was driving to pick up the Miss Basketball Award. Suddenly, somewhere along a white-dusted, South Dakota road, her car flipped and she died. Like other fallen heroes before her, she would never know the impact she’d have. And that's just the beginning of the story.
"I want to see a lot of good things come out of our reservation, even though I'm not here." -SuAnne Big Crow
SUANNE BIG CROW is the tale of a girl from the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation who became one of the best high-school basketball players in history. Prophesied to do great things for her people, SuAnne became a mentor to her infamous Lakota tribe. Our story returns to Pine Ridge 29 years later, where SuAnne has become a household name. Kids who weren't even born yet look up to her. Everyone on the reservation has stories, and even dreams about her. Elders cry when they say her name. It's clear that on the "Rez" and on the high school court, everyone’s looking for the next SuAnne.
Cameras will follow SuAnne's old high-school team, the Lady Thorpes, for the 2018-2019 season. Two players are said to possess SuAnne's natural skill, and cousin and Coach Laura Big Crow, has already weeded out the weak. She says confidently, "This is going to be a good year." From tryouts to away games, and through the bitter reservation winter, we will witness the the resonance that SuAnne has on the people - they still feel her, and are guided by her memory.
WHY SUANNE IS REMEMBERED
"I had thought that Oglala [Lakota Sioux] heroes existed mostly in the past. But a true Oglala hero appeared in the late 1980s, in suffering Pine Ridge, right under everyone's nose, while the rest of the world was looking the other way: SuAnne Big Crow." -"On The Rez" by Ian Frazier
We learned in our preliminary shoot that SuAnne has evolved to more than a basketball star. She’s become a symbol of strength that extends far beyond the boundaries of Pine Ridge. SuAnne’s story is a model for the world on what one hard-working person can do. Even when faced with the grueling reality of reservation life, SuAnne accomplished glory - and gave hope to the seemingly hopeless. She’s a role model for girls and women across the world, teaching that they can do anything they dream. SuAnne gives hope because she was the embodiment of hope.
“Work hard, be dedicated, develop a thick skin, but most of all, do it yourself.” -SuAnne Big Crow
A natural at basketball, Big Crow made her mark on the sports world. In 1989, she dominated in the state championship, and made the winning shot at the buzzer. She was the best girls player in South Dakota's history, scoring an average of 39 points per game. Her 67 points in a single game was a state record. She united a divided tribe in a celebratory parade with her team's victory. She stood strong against racism in rival gyms, silencing haters with spontaneous, tribal dances. December 19th was declared “SuAnne Big Crow Day” by the state of South Dakota, and she was inducted into the South Dakota Hall of Fame on March 25, 2017.
There aren’t a lot of opportunities on the Rez. So as Laura Big Crow says, “If there’s a hoop, there’s going to be basketball played.” As a result, basketball is the most popular sport on Pine Ridge. SuAnne was a star player, and used that platform to teach her culture that there was, what she called, “a better way.” She dreamed of a place called “Happy Town” a place where young people could learn and be safe from drugs and alcohol, violence and gangs. After her death “Happytown” became a reality. In 1992, The SuAnne Big Crow Boys & Girls Club was built. This marked the first Boys & Girls Club ever built on Indian country.
WHAT IS COMPLETED SO FAR
We have completed a 2-week, preliminary shoot on Pine Ridge. We discovered a rich story from the footage and were able to construct the trailer and some wonderful scenes. Trust and participation was established with the major characters necessary to tell the story. We journeyed and stayed with the locals to feel what it was actually like to live on the reservation. Through these interactions, we discovered a dynamic story and hilarious, profound characters. We attained all the old VHS tapes necessary to re-live the actual journey of SuAnne, both on and off the court. And we learned that the Lakota people want to be represented as a happy, strong people, rather than a dying culture. They are struggling, but they are proud. They desire an entertaining, uplifting documentary made about them, and that is what we plan to make.
WHAT YOUR DONATIONS WILL ALLOW
With your help, we will be able to film one of the most important parts of this story: How is SuAnne alive today? SuAnne came at an unlikely time, when Lakota heroes ceased to exist, and she left a profound mark. We plan to return to the reservation to allow the Oglala people to finish telling her story. And there is no better group of warriors to tell the tale, than Laura Big Crow and the Lady Thorpes. Throughout the 2018-2019 basketball season, we’ll gain a better understanding of what it is about SuAnne that resonates so deeply.
Specifically your donations would pay for camera, lens, and audio-gear rental, Native crew fees, food, and lodging. We will also need production assistants, location scouts, camera operators, and sound assistants. 97% of the population on Pine Ridge Reservation live below federal poverty line and unemployment rate varies from 85% to 95%. So although we will bring an experienced crew, we are also going to be hiring the locals.
WHY PINE RIDGE IS INFAMOUS
"As Indian Youth, it is up to us to represent our people to the best of our ability." -SuAnne Big Crow
The Lakota have captured the imagination of American culture for centuries. They lived through endless battles, massacres and broken treaties; all while trying to keep ownership of their land. In 1890, they slaughtered Custer’s cavalry at The Battle of Wounded Knee. Mt. Rushmore was built on top of their sacred Black Hills. They made national television in 1973, as they took on the FBI.
The story of SuAnne provides hope to the struggling Native American reservation. It's home to the once great Oglala Lakota Sioux nation, but is now the poorest county in America, with the lowest life-expectancy in the world besides Haiti, a 70% high school dropout rate, and a teenage suicide epidemic. But through it all, the Lakota are a poor people, but rich in their culture. As local KILI FM's sports disk jockey, Tom Crash says, "Pine Ridge is a tough place." (Also the sports broadcaster when SuAnne played)
FURTHER EFFECTS OF THE FILM
Her influence inspired the first ever Boys & Girls Club on Indian country. The club is one of the only after-school centers for youth on the reservation, and it’s goal is simple - “To provide a positive place for kids.” This year marks the first time that the club has to be leased out due to lack of public funding. For the sake of the youth and future generations on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, we hope sharing this wonderful story will help to change this.
The main team responsible for the filming of SUANNE BIG CROW will be seasoned documentary professionals, and local experts born on Pine Ridge.
DIRECTOR: Kris Kaczor is an award winning, independent documentary director. He is drawn to interesting characters and unlikely heroes. His goal is to promote positive social change.
PRODUCER: Walter Matteson has developed and produced a wide range of film and television projects while traveling the world constantly searching for characters, universal symbols, and stories to be shared with the rest of humanity.
STORY PRODUCER: Inila Wakan is a social activist and native Lakota living on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Wakan founded the Tetuwan Oyate Lakota Guard in 1997 to bring further awareness to issues confronting the Lakota Nation and gave testimony to the U.S Commission on Civil Rights in 1999.
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Matt Lyons is an Emmy award winning cinematographer with a specialty in documentaries and sports. He has shot 13 Superbowls.
ASSOCIATE PRODUCER: CeCe Big Crow is SuAnne’s sister and played basketball with her. Today she is the Board of Director of The Visions of SuAnne Big Crow, Inc. CeCe will oversee the accuracy of the story we tell.
SOUND RECORDIST: Dafydd Cooksey is a location sound recordist/mixer. He has worked the full run of Showtime’s THE CIRCUS, a television documentary series that followed the 2016 presidential race and the Trump Administration. It is produced by Showtime and Bloomberg Politics.
WHO I AM
My name is Kris Kaczor and I have been making independent documentaries for the last 15 years. My goal has been to make entertaining films that help the world. I've made films about heroes, dolphins, fish-sticks, human trash, and the human spirit. The last documentary I made was called DIVIDE IN CONCORD. It was chosen as Best of HotDocs, the world's largest documentary festival, was noticed and promoted by Michael Moore, and currently airs on PBS stations nationally. Like SUANNE BIG CROW, it was a story about an unlikely female hero changing the world.
Heroes are hard to come by. SuAnne was a high school basketball star in the late 80’s and early 90’s whose vision was to save her struggling culture. She died, but her dreams have taken on new life. Our goal is to document this incredible story for all to discover.
Risks and challenges
While making a documentary is exhilarating, it is also challenging. Challenges will arise while filming the season of Lady Thorpes basketball, perhaps delaying the production schedule. Our car may break down, a lens may crack, or our star player may get injured, for example. Our goal is to complete filming by March 2019, edit, and have a final version by winter 2019. But if there are unforeseen production challenges, or story lines that carry over past March, there is a chance the delivery date could be delayed. Thank you for having faith in this project.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)