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‘Awake, A Dream From Standing Rock’: Interview With The Filmmakers

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For the “Unauthorized Disclosure” podcast this week, host Kevin Gosztola interviews the filmmakers involved in the production of “Awake, A Dream From Standing Rock,” which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival on April 22.

Josh Fox, Oscar-nominated director of “Gasland” and “How to Let Go of the World and Love All The Things Climate Can’t Change,” produced Part 1 of the film.

Part 2 was created by James Spione, who was nominated for an Oscar for his work on the short film, “Incident In New Baghdad.” He is also known for directing “Silenced,” a documentary profiling whistleblowers.

Myron Dewey, founder of Digital Smoke Signals, is Newe-Numah/ Paiute-Shoshone from the Walker River Paiute Tribe, Agui Diccutta Band (Trout Eaters) and Temoke Shoshone. Through Part 3, he captures much of the indigenous perspective of what unfolded at Standing Rock in the struggle against the Dakota Access pipeline.

Dewey also is a media maker known for live streaming and flying a drone to capture what was unfolding on the ground. What appears in the film from this footage is stunning, whether what we see happening at Standing Rock is beautiful or tragic.

During Fox’s interview, he says he wanted to make the film because he met people like Floris White Bull, who co-wrote the film and appears in the part he directed. He believed their message needed to be amplified.

“I didn’t want to make the usual here’s Josh Fox walking around talking to people,” Fox shares. “This film I looked at and said, what if the last 500 years of ‘civilization’ was really just a bad dream and we woke up and it had never happened and we’re in this camp, where the traditional values of native presence on this continent were the ruling and organizing principles. And that’s what it felt like to be at Standing Rock.”

Spione recalls how he was compelled to go to Standing Rock and bear witness after hearing calls from voices at the Oceti Sakowin camp for online activists, bloggers, live streamers, journalists, artists, photographers, and filmmakers. But he did not know a collaborative project would come out of his work at Standing Rock.

“I’ve generally done very interview-based projects. Even a film like ‘Silenced, which had a lot of re-enactments and so forth was still people telling their story,” Spione adds. “With this film, I decided I would really depart from that radically and do something, which was really an old-fashioned cinéma vérité documentary.”

“The way to go is to let the magic and drama of what was unfolding there happen in front of this camera and let people sort of just be there and immerse themselves,” including the night of November 20, when the police attacked people with water and mace at Backwater Bridge.

For Dewey, his section of the film was about getting the voice of the water protectors out to wider audience. “It means a lot that I was able to share my experience there at Standing Rock.”

“It was beautiful to see the synchronicity and hear the stories of people and why they came,” Dewey recalls, referring to the outpouring of support that occurred.

During Dewey’s segment, he highlights the way in which police treated and abused people at the encampment, who were fighting the pipeline. He wanted to give people pride that they were part of a struggle. But Dewey also intended to show that the pipeline’s owners and police forgot they were “indigenous from somewhere.” As a result, they contaminated water and desecrated burial sites.

To listen to the three interviews, click the above player or go here.

The film is available at AwakeTheFilm.org for streaming. Donate $1 or more to watch the film.

Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola

Kevin Gosztola is managing editor of Shadowproof. He also produces and co-hosts the weekly podcast, "Unauthorized Disclosure."