Courtesy of Sundance Institute

Cody Lucich tells the on-the-ground story of resistance and community at Standing Rock.

Festival Section:
Documentary Premieres

Sundance Program Description:

Native activist and filmmaker Cody Lucich captures the electric spirit of Standing Rock from the epicenter. From the initial gathering days on the Standing Rock reservation, the movement grew to thousands of water protectors, living in a protest camp and resisting construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline. AKICITA: THE BATTLE OF STANDING ROCK focuses on the voices of young Native warriors who stepped up to lead the charge, expressing the beats of the movement from every front – confrontations with the police, the vibrant daily customs of the camp, and more. Through the eyes of the young Native protesters, the struggle feels deeply personal.

In his fresh debut feature, Lucich’s nontraditional approach marries stylized pacing with a sweeping fluid rhythm of the camera. Lucich captures the immense scope of the protests and the all-consuming feeling of being swept up in this fight. The largest Native occupation since Wounded Knee, the protests at Standing Rock conjure conflicts of the past and the urgency deeply rooted in our present times.

Some Background:

  • Cody Lucich

    Maidu filmmaker Lucich received support from the Sundance Institute’s Documentary Film Program and participated in the 2017 Catalyst Forum with this project, his feature directorial debut. His prior credits include serving as a camera operator for the 2017 Sundance doc series RISE.


  • Heather Rae
    Past Sundance docs:

    RISE (executive producer)
    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.

  • Gingger Shankar
    Past Sundance docs:

    NARI (2016, director/composer)
    HIMALAYA SONG (2011, director/producer/composer)

    In addition to serving as a producer, Shankar also composed the music for the doc. She has also been the composer of several additional Sundance films, VR experience, and New Frontier exhibitions.

  • Ben-Alex Dupris

    Dupris, a member of the Colville Confederated Tribes from Washington State, also served on the crew of RISE.

Executive Producers:

  • James Redford
    Past Sundance docs:

    RESILIENCE (2016, director/producer)
    THE D WORD aka THE BIG PICTURE: RETHINKING DYSLEXIA (2012, director/producer)
    THE KINDNESS OF STRANGERS (1999, producer)

    Redford, the son of Robert Redford, is a documentary filmmaker and the co-founder and chair of the Redford Center, a non-profit that aims to create social change through human stories related to environmental concerns.

  • Jill Tidman

    Tidman is the executive director of the Redford Center. She produced Redford’s most recent environmental documentary, HAPPENING: A CLEAN ENERGY REVOLUTION, which screened at DOC NYC and on HBO last year. This is her first Sundance credit.

  • Lekha Singh
    Past Sundance docs:

    BENDING THE ARC (2017)
    THE SQUARE (2013)

    Singh is also an acclaimed photographer whose work is part of the collections of LACMA, the ICA, the Smithsonian, and the Rubin Museum of Art.

  • Liljana Adams

    This is the first producing credit for Adams, a member of the United Auburn Indian Community.

  • David J Cornfield and Linda A Cornfield
    Past Sundance docs:

    CHASING CORAL (2017)
    CHASING ICE (2012)

    The Cornfields are philanthropists and environmentalists supporting projects that offer innovative, pragmatic, and sustainable solutions to complex current problems. They also serve as executive producers on 2018 Sundance US Documentary Competition title INVENTING TOMORROW and on Documentary Premieres title WON’T YOU BE MY NEIGHBOR?.


  • Elena Kovalenko

    This is Kovalenko’s first Sundance credit.

Why You Should Watch:
Lucich invites the viewer directly into the occupation, an immersion accompanied by moving reflections by the young leaders about the reasons for the struggle and stirring first-hand accounts of victories and setbacks along the way. His project is especially notable as the first major chronicle of Standing Rock made by a Native filmmaker. The film is part of Sundance’s environmentally-themed programming strand, The New Climate.

More Info:

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

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

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