2017 Sundance Docs in Focus: RISE

Three episodes of the new Viceland docuseries focusing on indigenous resistance.

Festival Section:
Special Events

Special Program:
The New Climate

Sundance Program Description:

From the Standing Rock protests to the battle for Oak Flat, this docuseries from Viceland expertly investigates the ongoing environmental rights struggles still facing many Native American and indigenous citizens. Unflinching and timely, these stories reflect the ongoing history of native resistance to colonization, giving a face to communities fighting for their most basic rights with an enduring hope that a shameful history will never be repeated.

RISE is both eye-opening education and a rallying cry, inspiring audiences to get involved and truly appreciate the 500-plus year legacy of native resilience – a confrontation of the deep wounds of colonization and the consequences of reckless greed at the expense of indigenous people and the planet itself. The result is an essential documentation of one of the most urgent environmental and civil rights struggles happening today.

Continuing Sundance Institute’s longtime commitment to presenting bold stories from within the Native American and indigenous communities, the Festival debuts three episodes of this groundbreaking new series, “Apache Stronghold,” “Sacred Water,” and “Red Power,” followed by an extended Q&A.

Some Background:

  • Michelle Latimer
    Past Sundance docs:


    Latimer also directed and produced the Sundance fictional short CHOKE (2011, honorable mention).

Executive Producers:

  • Tania Natscheff
    Natscheff is the director of factual programming at Vice in Canada. This is her first Sundance credit.

  • Bernardo Loyola
    Loyola is Viceland’s programming director. This is also his first Sundance project.

  • Heather Rae
    Past Sundance docs:

    TRUDELL (2005, director/editor)

    Rae has also produced the Sundance narrative alums TALLULAH (2016), ASS BACKWARDS (2013), MOSQUITO Y MARI (2012), THE DRY LAND (2010), and FROZEN RIVER (2008). She ran the Sundance Institute’s Native Program from 1996-2001, and was a past programmer for the festival.

  • Jordan Roberts
    Past Sundance docs:

    AMERICAN TEEN (2008, producer)
    THE KID STAYS IN THE PICTURE (2002, line producer)

    Veteran factual television producer/showrunner Roberts was brought on to help develop and launch Viceland through the middle of last year.

  • Michael Kronish, Patrick McGuire
    This is the first Sundance project for the Vice Media Canada EVP of TV and digital production and head of content, respectively.

  • Spike Jonze
    Past Sundance docs:

    AMARILLO BY MORNING (short) (1998, director)

    The acclaimed Academy Award-winning filmmaker also wrote/directed Sundance narrative shorts I’M HERE (2010) and HOW THEY GET THERE (1997) and produced Sundance narrative feature HUMAN NATURE (2002). He is also the creative director for Vice Media and co-president of Viceland.

  • Eddy Moretti and Shane Smith
    Past Sundance docs:

    WAVES OF GRACE (VR experience) (2015, producers)

    The chief creative office for Vice Media and co-president of Viceland and the CEO/founder of Vice Media respectively are Emmy Award winners who also executive produced Sundance narrative alum FISHING WITHOUT NETS (2014) and New Frontier installation THE TREACHERY OF SANCTUARY (2012), and co-produced/wrote WHITE LIGHTNIN’ (2009).

VP of Production:

  • Daniel Morin
    This is the Vice Media exec’s first Sundance credit.


  • Jarrett Martineau and Dean Perlmutter
    This is also the first Sundance project for the Vice Media series producers.

Associate Producers:

  • Catie Lamer and Hazel Cho
    Lamer and Cho also have their first Sundance producing credit with this project.


  • Katie Chipperfield and Clark Masters
    Chipperfield has a background in editing television series, while Masters is Vice Media’s staff video editor. This is the first Sundance project for both.

Why You Should Watch:
In these episodes, the producers take an on-the-ground, in-the-moment approach, with correspondents travelling to sites of contention where indigenous people and their allies defend their rights against government-backed corporate interests. The series’ commitment to environmental concerns is underscored by its positioning in the Festival as part of this year’s new thematic environmental programming, The New Climate.

More Info:

For Sundance screening dates and times, click the film title in the first paragraph.

To experience the festival through the eyes of this year’s filmmakers, follow my Sundance 2017 Twitter list.

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Filed under Documentary, Film, Film Festivals, Recommendations, Sundance

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