Young Lakota

Young Lakota

  • BY Marion Lipschutz & Rose Rosenblatt | IN Politics & Government
    Premiered November 25, 2013

About the Film

South Dakota’s Pine Ridge Reservation is no stranger to strife and heartbreak, stark realities and inspired idealism. In Young Lakota, we are brought directly into the emotional and often uncertain journey of Sunny Clifford, her twin sister Serena, and their politically ambitious friend Brandon Ferguson, who all share the desire to make a difference for themselves and their community. MORE

Their political awakening begins when Cecelia Fire Thunder, the first female president of the Oglala Lakota, as she counters a South Dakota law that makes abortion a crime, with no exceptions for rape or incest. Fire Thunder takes a stand by proposing a women's health clinic providing abortions on the reservation but open to all local women. While Serena is unwed and with a toddler, and Brandon is raising two little boys, Sunny is just back on the reservation after two years in college. All three find themselves immersed in this political battle as they struggle between opportunity and principle.

Fire Thunder's bold proposal is seen by some as grandstanding, and the tribe becomes divided over both the abortion issue and Fire Thunder herself. Ultimately, Fire Thunder is impeached by her political enemies inside the tribal government (perhaps with the help of the South Dakota political right), an act that sets off a chain reaction in the lives of Sunny, Serena, and Brandon. Young Lakota shows the diverging paths they begin to take, and the complex interplay of personal choice, cultural, economic, and political circumstance that defines who they are and what kind of adults they will become.

The Filmmakers

Marion Lipschutz is a producer, director and writer. After meeting Rose Rosenblatt while working on The Human Language, a series about linguistics, she and Rose formed Incite Pictures and Cine Qua Non, a not-for-profit. With Rose, Marion has co-directed The Abortion Pill, about the controversy over the French drug RU 486; Fatherhood USA, a PBS miniseries exploring contemporary fatherhood; and Live Free or Die, the story of a Bedford, New Hampshire doctor banned from teaching in his children's schools because he provides abortions. Live Free or Die aired on POV in 2000, as did The Education of Shelby Knox. Marion and Rose also produced four shows in a series about Charity Hospital in New Orleans, and The Trenchcoat Gang for truTV, about the two most successful bank robbers in U.S. history. Marion is a part-time teacher at the New School in New York City.

Rose Rosenblatt wears multiple hats as a producer, director, and editor. In 1991, she formed Incite Pictures/Cine Qua Non with Marion Lipschutz and together they have produced long format documentaries on social and cultural issues. Projects include: The Education of Shelby Knox, which aired on POV in 2005 and played at Sundance (Best Cinematography), SXSW (Audience Award), Full Frame, Miami Gay and Lesbian Film Festival (Jury Prize), and Human Rights Watch FF; Live Free or Die (POV, 2000), which played at Human Rights Watch Film Fest, Woodstock Film Fest; Fatherhood USA (PBS, 1998); The Abortion Pill (PBS, 1997); The Trenchcoat Gang, truTV (2003); and Code Blue: New Orleans on The Learning Channel (2001). Recently, Rose was script consultant and editor for Body and Soul, which was nominated for a Best Short Documentary Academy Award. LESS

Film Credits

Produced and Directed by
Marion Lipshutz
and Rose Rosenblatt

Director of Photography
Gary Griffin

Rose Rosenblatt
Jeremy Stulberg
Diego Siragna

Susan Bryant

Story Consultants
Pam Kingfisher
Shawn Termin

Field Producers
Kristi Jacobson
Chas Jewett

Graphic Design
Paul Docherty
Ryan Red Corn
Ashley Richards

Additional Photography
Kevin Keating
John Heatherington
Linn Brothers

Additional Sound Recording
Ryan Carroll
Milt Lee
Arlo Iron Cloud
Linn Brothers

Additional Editing
Rich Kronenberg
Daniel Hegarty

Associate Producers
Dan Greenman
Trevor Stonefield
Nora Christiani
Rachel Falcone
Kate Gagnon

Editing Assistants
Kristen Larvick
Pilar Haile Damato
Nicole Esquibel
Jana Haimsohn

Sound Design & Mix

John M Davis

Online Editing
Steve Pequignot

Production Accountant
Sara J. Bass
Robin Salley

Research and Production Assistants
Kristine Ekman
Marissa Black
Christian Baer
Marianna Castro
Julia Parrot
Geo Wyeth
Stephanie Morales
Mariana Parket

Music Consultant
Caryn Havlik

Additional Music
Chris Derksen

News Footage Courtesy of
News Center One, KBNB South Dakota

Special Thanks
Andrea Alexander
Terry J. Allen
Kathy Aplan
Alice Arnold
Karen Artichoker
Peter Belden
Alison Bernstein
Diane Best
Tillie Black Bear
Rachel Boynton
Tony Brave
Betty Bull Bear
Vic and Rhea Camp
Katrina Cantrell
Tom Casey
Katy Chevigny
Corinne Clifford
Elizabeth Lynn Cook
Karen Coyle
Phyllis Currott
Vanessa Daniels
Edith Eddy
Stefan Elfenbein
Alice Elliot
Pat Eng
Heidi Ewing
Wilbur and Gina Ferguson
First People’s Fund
Rachel Grady
Victoria Grujicic
Caroline Hotaling
Dorigen Keeney
Amy Kohn
The Lakota Fund
Lakota Prairie Ranch
Karen Lippert
Lewis Lipschutz
Larry Loonin
Cynthia Lopez
Frieda Martinez
Liz May
Marilyn McLaren
Louise Melling
David Melmer
Ian Murtaugh
Native Women’s Society of the Great Plains
Oglala Lakota College
The Oglala Lakota Nation
Lynn Paltrow
Kelly Perkins
Joy Persall
Denis Petrov
Pjute Hake
Larry Pourier
Carl Powden
Terry Purinton
Carol Rawlings
Rosemarie Reed
Lourdes Rivera
Ruth Rosenblatt
Denise Ross
Alisha Sedor
Lily Shangreaux
Andrea Smith
Hank and Jillane Spitzmiller
Anne Stein
Gloria Steinem
Randy Stulberg
Kim Tilsen
Nick Tilsen
Roxanne Two Bulls
Elizabeth Weatherford
Susan Wefald
Peggy Weiss
Julia Loonin
Ben and Sara Purinton

Executive Producer for ITVS

Sally Jo Fifer

Funding Provided By
The Educational Foundation of America
The Sundance Documentary Fund
The Compton Foundation
The Brush Foundation
The Mary Wohlford Foundation
Chicken & Egg Pictures
New York State Council on the Arts
The Wallace Alexander Gerbode Foundation
The Ford Foundation

Young Lakota is a co-production of Cine Qua Non, Inc. and the Independent Television Service (ITVS), with funding provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB).

Young Lakota was produced by Cine Qua Non, Inc., which is solely responsible for its content.

© 2013. Cine Qua Non, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Have you ever faced a family split over a controversial, political issue? What would do if you were in Sunny, Serena and/or Brandon's shoes?
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Have you ever faced a family split over a controversial, political issue? What would do if you were in Sunny, Serena and/or Brandon's shoes?