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Meet the Native American women fighting for the lives of their indigenous sisters. #MMIW
Meet the Native American women fighting for the lives of their indigenous sisters. #MMIW
170 backers pledged €17,842 to help bring this project to life.

About this project

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€17,842

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** UPDATE -- We have achieved our Kickstarter funding goal, but we still need your contribution!

Thank you so much to those who have given: you have made this film happen and we are so glad to have you on our crew. If you have arrived at this campaign and wondering if you should still contribute: PLEASE DO!

Our Kickstarter goal was an "eat ramen and don't mess up" budget. Further contributions will help us up the wages of local production crew, provide us with an emergency fund, and let us move up from ramen to spaghetti.

We also need help funding or finding camera supports (stabilizer and heavy tripod) and V-Mount batteries in Montana, if anyone would like to contribute or has any ideas.

Also: anyone have a decent Windows laptop with USB 3.0 ports that they can lend to OUR SISTERS for April and May? **

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OUR SISTERS is a feature-length documentary about Native American women fighting epidemic levels of violence against women in their communities. According to U.S. federal statistics, indigenous women are more likely than women of any other race to be assaulted, go missing, be murdered, and be trafficked. Most of that violence comes from non-Native male perpetrators. We want to show the work of those fighting against these trends and honor those who live with its consequences.

This film is inspired by the work of 17-year-old Marita Growing Thunder, who sews individual dresses in memory of missing and murdered indigenous women (#MMIW). Marita is a young leader in the #MMIW movement. Over the next year, we'll meet with communities and families, to learn about causes of this epidemic, talking with those affected by this trauma, and portraying those who are working against it.

Each night, at a sewing desk on the Flathead Indian Reservation, Marita Growing Thunder holds a kind of vigil. Stitch-by-stitch, the 17-year-old creates dresses with names like Tasheena, Lily, Misty, and Tina, Native women who died or went missing before their time.

OUR SISTERS will reach out to activists and survivors across the state and region. We will be connecting with stories about those who have been lost, but also about families and community leaders who are working to ensure the safety of those who remain.

This film will is about pain and loss, but it is also about resilience and rebirth. We want our audience to walk away having met engaging protagonists and reflecting on how the issues that the #MMIW movement is highlighting are connected to other trends in the contemporary discourse around power and gender. As the media moves on from Dakota Access Pipeline, it is important to to keep Native voices and perspectives in the news. With Americans so deeply engaged with questions related to these topics, the time for this film is now.

OUR SISTERS will be structured as a visual journey that traces this topic and these women across the breathtaking landscapes of Montana's Indian Country. We will break with typical narrative structures, working with survivors and activists to share the stories of the women and communities we document. We want this to be a process driven by those who want to speak out, giving activists and community leaders a bit of wind on their back.

Why we are making OUR SISTERS.

OUR SISTERS will be shot in two phases. This Kickstarter is to pay for this first round of production and research. Because of our tight timeline grants for this are simply not possible. We have already reached out to several potential funders who are would me interested in helping this project grow, but first we need to get to Montana and begin our work. So, we need your help to make that happen!

Marita, the character whose narrative arch will hopefully bind this film together, is doing a series of important, one-time-only events starting in early April and running through to the end of the school year. In early June she graduates and concludes her project. In order to secure this vital footage, we need to start rolling our cameras in early April.

Your contribution will be vital to making that possible.

Photograph from Shane's 2009 piece about justice on the Crow Reservation; Earline and Cletus Cole whose son's killing has gone without being prosecuted since 2005.
Photograph from Shane's 2009 piece about justice on the Crow Reservation; Earline and Cletus Cole whose son's killing has gone without being prosecuted since 2005.

Our core Kickstarter goal will finance the bare essentials of two absolutely vital months of filming on this project. We have pinched every penny and need 16,500 euros (ca. $17,500), with two stretch goals beyond that (this campaign is denoted in euros because Shane resides in Berlin; the project is otherwise budgeted in dollars). Our core goal will be spent on the following:

  • 18% - airfare and land transportation -- flight to and local travel within Montana
  • 34% - professional gear -- rigs, camera supports, lens adapters, and other accessories to boost the production value to a level that will make it attractive to distributors. 
  • 28% - stipends -- at this goal we can cover the directors fixed costs and provide modest wages a local sound recordist or co-director
  • 3% - other -- at this level, application fees for one key documentary film market where we will begin working towards distribution goals
  • 7% - fulfilment of Kickstarter rewards
  • 5% - Kickstarter fees

Stretch Goal is $37,000 and is designed to make it easier for us to get solid footage and allow us to work on just the film through early summer. It includes the addition of a steadicam and high-quality viewfinder to make make it easier to ensure our images are sharp and steady. It also adds a stipend for the director and wages for editing and producing. It also adds an emergency fund and a soundtrack development fund for a musician. These calculations include money spent from core goal:

  • 8% - airfare and land transportation -- (no additions)
  • 31% - professional gear -- addition of a precise viewfinder and gimbal rig to ensure quicker focus and steadier shots
  • 38% - stipends -- adds wages for team through early summer and provides funds for developing the soundtrack
  • 6% - other -- adds an emergency fund for the project as well as shipping for funding application materials
  • 8% - fulfilment of Kickstarter rewards 
  • 5% - Kickstarter fees
  • 4% - fiscal sponsor fees

Cinema-trailer from CAN'T BE SILENT, Shane's first film as a part of the executive team on a documentary. The film tells the story of a musical group made up of refugees on tour in Germany. Shane was the directing assistant and editing assistant.

STRAßENSAMURAI, trailer of the first collaborative film of the team working on OUR SISTERS. 

April 3 - June 3 -- Production in Montana
April 15 - June 13 -- Post-Production of trailers and teasers
June 13 - July 13 -- Post-Production of a rough cut of film
May 1 - July 31 -- Applying for grant for second production cycle
August 1 - September 15 -- Production in Montana
August 15 - October 25 -- Editing final film
November - December -- Fine tuning, color correction, sound design

OUR SISTERS was born when Shane began seeing social media posts about Marita Growing Thunder from his friends back home in Montana. Having covered justice issues for Native News while attending the University of Montana, it was a topic he had long wanted to again address in his work. Inspired by Marita's fortitude and encouraged by friends in the area, the pre-production began in February 2017.

Director -- Shane Thomas McMillan is a professional filmmaker, photographer, teacher, and writer. Growing up as a non-native on western Montana’s Flathead Indian Reservation galvanized Shane's passion for storytelling. After studying journalism, German, and international policy at the University of Montana, the U.S. Department of State awarded him a Fulbright Journalism Fellowship, through which he worked for the Associated Press in Berlin. Shane has since been based in Berlin, working with international publications including The New York Times, The Guardian, NPR, PRI, Deutsche Welle and Slate to cover issues of human rights, migration, and identity. He has also worked as the studio manager to renowned photographer Nan Goldin, whose work documents sexuallity and violence among straight and queer persons. From 2011 to 2013, Shane was the directing assistant on the award-winning documentary CAN'T BE SILENT. In 2014 and 2015, Shane was a visiting photography and multimedia instructor at the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies.

Editor -- Born in Spain, raised in Germany, and based in Berlin, Samer Halabi Cabezón is a storyteller with ideas running through his bloodstream. Samer has a masters in philosophy and communications, and had a successful career in product management and marketing, but decided to throw it all aside to make films. Since then he has studied at Germany’s esteemed Filmhaus Babelsberg and will soon complete a degree in directing at the filmArche, Europe's first self-organized film school. He has shot and edited several short-docs, one of which appeared in the British Shorts competition. As well as directed, produced, and edited his first feature-length project STRASSENSAMURAI, with Shane as his cameraman. He is fascinated by the points in our lives where philosophy and reality meet. 

Do you have questions, comments, ideas, or tips about OUR SISTERS, #MMIW, or this Kickstarter campaign?

Please write us at oursistersmovie@gmail.com
Or on Facebook and Twitter @oursistersmovie




Production Partner

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Risks and challenges

OUR SISTERS is a big project about a big topic, but we are ready to take it on. We know that the production will be hard and taking place far away from the editing room. The film is about complex social challenges and deeply personal struggles; but we are ready to take it all on because we want to play a small part in helping bring this topic to a broad public.

We are doing our very best to bring as many voices to this projects as possible and are calling in advisors and friends from across Indian Country and the world to build a conversation around this film.

Along the way, we may also have to call on you, our supporters for guidance, ideas, and maybe a place to crash for the night on the way between shoots. We hope that you will be patient with us, stick with us, and challenge us to make good work.

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Support this project

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge €5 or more About $5

    Digital Sticker Set

    Small donations are a big help. Two dollars get us several miles down the road between shoots, and it gets you a digital sticker so that you can brag about supporting our project! It will also help us spread the word about #MMIW.

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    Pledge €15 or more About $16

    Credit on OUR SISTERS Website

    Get your name in black and white in the supporters section of our website. We will also get you a digital sticker!

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    Pledge €30 or more About $32

    Personal Postcard from MT or Berlin

    Both Montana and Berlin have some pretty wild postcards! Support us at this rate and you get the digital sticker, credit on the website, and a personally addressed postcard from our director, Shane, from one or the other.

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    Pledge €50 or more About $53

    #MMIW T-Shirt

    Those who aren't fast enough one of the wonderful friendship bracelets, don't despair: you can wear your #MMIW pride on these beautiful custom-made t-shirts made by the Our Sisters team!

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    Pledge €60 or more About $64

    Signed Limited Edition DVD

    Want to support the film AND get a signed copy in the mail when it's done!? Join us at this level and we will make you a copy at our studio, sign it, and send it to you in 2018!

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    Pledge €85 or more About $90

    Personally Signed Movie Poster

    Just in time for the scheduled premiere of OUR SISTERS: contributors at this level can show their support by putting our poster!

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    Pledge €150 or more About $159

    Package with All Prizes Above

    Contribute to OUR SISTERS at this level and we will hook you up with a box full of all of the goodies for the lower reward levels: this means a poster, a t-shirt, postcards, web credit, and the digital stickers to show you have joined our number!

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    Pledge €200 or more About $212

    Your Name on the Big Screen!

    We love movies with long credits, so let's see how long we can make ours. Join us on this journey and see your name up in the credits! Contributors at this level also get the sticker and are listed on the website. You also get your choice of the one of the physical rewards from the rewards categories below this one.

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    Pledge €250 or more About $266

    Limited Edition Print from Director

    Support awareness about #MMIW, be a part of our film, and get a personally signed and numbered print from director Shane McMillan (see more of his photos at dokumentarian.com). Delivery just before Christmas!

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    Pledge €350 or more About $372

    Exclusive 1-on-1 Q&A with Director

    If you are willing to put this much support behind our film, you are probably interested in filmmaking, or in this topic. This reward includes credit on the website and the big screen, the digital sticker set, and a 20 minute chat with director Shane McMillan!

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    Pledge €500 or more About $531

    Be a VIP at a Screening

    The lights go down, the projector rolls, and you are in the VIP section with the team. Afterwards, we hit the town and talk movies! This reward also includes swag that we will share with you that night, as well as your name up on the big screen!

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    Pledge €1,000 or more About $1,062

    Be a VIP at a Premiere

    Who better to spend the evening with on premiere night than the team itself! Join us for a meal ahead of time, join us in the VIP section of the premiere, and afterwards we paint the town red! This reward also includes swag that we will share with you that night, as well as your name up on the big screen!

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    Pledge €2,500 or more About $2,656

    Be our Feedback Team

    By early October we will have a rough cut of the film ready! Preview the film online and give us feedback in the editing process! At this reward level you all are in the credits online and on the big screen. You also get the digital swag!

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    Pledge €5,000 or more About $5,311

    Associate Producer + Limited Print

    Every film needs producers to make things happen, and with your contribution at this level a lot can be set in motion. Joining us at this level puts you in our credits as an associate producer and gets you a limited edition, large-format print from Shane's library of work spanning the globe.

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Funding period

- (21 days)