David Sutherland on the “Magic” of Filmmaking

February 14, 2013
by Jason M. Breslow Digital Editor

“No one makes documentaries the way David Sutherland does,” The Baltimore Sun wrote in 2006. “And perhaps no one ever will; the toll is too great.”

In 1998, he brought FRONTLINE viewers The Farmer’s Wife, an unforgettable profile of an American farm family in crisis. In 2006, he followed up with Country Boys, a coming-of-age journey about two friends in eastern Kentucky.

On April 1 and 2, Sutherland returns with Kind Hearted Woman, a two-part series that illuminates the problem of child sexual abuse on Native American reservations. For three years, Sutherland followed Robin Charboneau, a 32-year-old divorced single mother and Oglala Sioux living on North Dakota’s Spirit Lake Reservation as she struggled to raise two young children while coping with the wounds of abuse she suffered as a child.

True to Sutherland’s trademark style, the film is an intimate and humanizing portrait. (Read an interview with Sutherland about the making of the film). As he explains in the above video, “My films are really about people and how they react. There’s a feeling you get where you feel what they’re going through. It’s like magic. To me it’s magic. It’s what makes me tick.”

Kind Hearted Woman is a special co-presentation of FRONTLINE and Independent Lens. Watch the trailer below:

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