A superb documentary, right on your machine!

FRIDAY, APRIL 5, 2013

We recommend Kind Hearted Woman: In the past week, PBS stations have been airing a five-hour film by David Sutherland, Kind Hearted Woman.

The Frontline/Independent Lens film may still be airing on your PBS channel. But it’s available in full at this PBS site.

Did we mention the fact that it lasts five hours? Don’t let that deter you.

It’s hard to explain how many things this film is about. We don’t know if we’ve ever seen such an intimate portrait of family life. We don’t know when we’ve seen a portrait of such sophisticated parenting.

That said, the film explores the heartbreaking, ugly power of sexual abuse. The film begins in North Dakota, on the Spirit Lake Tribe reservation. It moves all through the world from there.

For us, this was a remarkable film. You might want to give it a shot.

A capsule review from the Los Angeles Times: Maybe we’ll just let Robin Lloyd tell you what this is about:
LLOYD (4/1/13): The new film centers on Robin Charboneau, an Oglala Sioux in her early 30s from North Dakota's Spirit Lake Reservation. When we meet her, she is newly sober, back from rehab and having her apartment spiritually purified. You think for a moment that this is going to be a story about staying straight, but it turns into something quite different: Its business encompasses sexual abuse, child endangerment, divided families, incompetent bureaucracy and failed justice, but it is also about love, perseverance, child-rearing, growing up, self-knowledge and life in the North.
One more point. At this page, PBS answers some basic questions about Kind Hearted Woman. The photograph comes from a scene in the film we were struck by two separate times.

In the photo, three family members are laughing together; they’re laughing hard at something that would only be funny to them. It’s a tiny moment in the film, but it jumped out at us both times.

This film took us all over the land. We’ve admired Sutherland’s work before. We’re glad we looked in again this time.

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