(November 7, 2016 – Toronto, ON) Next year, as everyone should know by now, will mark the 150th anniversary of Confederation which brought the early provinces together to form Canada. There will be a lot of attention on various aspects of our history and it is an interesting coincidence that a US film will help contribute just a little to our celebrations.
It’s titled Woman Walks Ahead and Northernstars has been given a first look at a still featuring costars Jessica Chastain and Michael Greyeyes. Chastain, who was celebrated with the placing of her footprints and handprints at the famed TCL Chinese Theatre in Los Angeles last Thursday night, plays the role of Catherine Weldon, a portrait painter from 1890s Brooklyn, who travels to Dakota to paint a portrait of Sitting Bull, and becomes embroiled in the Lakota peoples’ struggle over the rights to their land. If there are echoes of what is happening now in North Dakota and the Standing Rock Tribe, that is just an accident of timing.
Quick flashback: The Dakota Sioux had been driven from their reservation in the Black Hills by miners in 1876. Refusing to be transported to the Indian territory in June of 1876, they defeated and massacred General George Custer’s advance party on the Little Big Horn River. Sitting Bull, with a part of his band, made his escape north into Canada and through the mediation of the North-West Mounted Police and other Dominion officials, surrendered on a promise of pardon in 1880. After the pardon, Sitting Bull returned to the United States in 1881, and was held prisoner at the Standing Rock Reservation in the Dakota territory.
Born in Switzerland, the 8 year old girl who would become Catherine Weldon arrived in the United States with her family in 1866. Later in life she became interested in art and by the early 1880s had become committed to the cause of Native Americans. She joined the National Indian Defense Association and in the summer of 1889 traveled to the Dakota Territory to fulfill her dream of living among the Sioux. She befriended Sitting Bull (played by Michael Greyeyes in the film), and acted as his secretary, interpreter and advocate. Weldon painted four portraits of Sitting Bull.
Woman Walks Ahead also costars Native Canadian actor Kendall Charters. Companies behind the film include Black Bicycle Entertainment which is financing and producing alongside Bedford Falls in association with Potboiler Productions. No release date has been announced.