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Makepeace Producitons
Makepeace Productions

Springtime Is Blooming

Filming Tribal Justice

Judge Abby Abinanti, Court Advocate Lori Nesbitt, Director Anne Makepeace, and Executive Producer Ruth Cowan

Judge Abby Abinanti, Court Advocate Lori Nesbitt, Director Anne Makepeace, and Executive Producer Ruth Cowan

Just a few weeks ago, I found myself in the blooming coastal green of Northern California filming with the Honorable Abby Abinanti, Chief Justice of the Yurok Tribal Court, and her outstanding staff for our documentary about the California Tribal Justice system. We had originally planned the trip purely for research, but at the last minute asked if we might film some scenes for the fundraising trailer we need to create for our next steps. 
Abby and her staff were incredibly generous, allowing us to capture an action-packed week that included meetings with other Northern California tribal judges as well as with state court officials and juvenile justice officers in Eureka, and two days of hearings in her own courtroom in the Yurok Tribal Offices in Klamath. The most moving cases were those in her Wellness Court, which focuses on healing families torn apart by substance abuse. A shirt made by a Yurok child

A shirt made by a Yurok child

Cinematographer Barney Broomfield wires Abby for sound

Barney Broomfield wires Abby for sound

Every night, Abby and Court Advocate Lori Nesbitt drove for miles, combing the area for child runaways and Yurok tribal members at risk of arrest due to missing probation hearings or worse. During these night rides, they worked at convincing people on warrant status to turn themselves in, promising to advocate for them in the state court system. One person they surrendered into custody has already been released to her family.
On one of our days, Abby arranged a boat ride up the Klamath River through the heart of the Yurok reservation. We were fortunate to meet Willard Carlson, Jr., upriver on his family’s land surrounded by redwood groves. Willard is building a traditional village where Yuroks can find healing and renewal, as he himself has done. He works with Abby and her staff on the Yurok Court's Clean Slate program, which is sponsored by the Wellness Court.
Willard and Barney

Willard Carlson, Jr. with redwood canoe

April in Yurok Country

Slide Show

Next Up: Filming with the Quechan Tribal Court

Claudette White

Quechan Chief Justice Claudette White

Next month, we’ll be heading to Southern California near the Arizona and Mexican borders to film with the Honorable Claudette White, Chief Justice of the Quechan Tribal Court. Claudette is hoping to be able to unify a family in her Wellness Court while we are there. Stay tuned for another chapter of this inspiring story of two Native American judges and their staffs bringing restorative justice back to their communities.

Older Films Bloom Again

Baby It's You — An Unusual Choice For Mother's Day

Baby It's YouMeanwhile, some of my older films are continuing to find new life in the digital world. Through the Sundance Institute’s Artists’ Services Program, my very personal documentary Baby It’s You, has just been released on iTunes, Amazon and Vudu, with Netflix slated for summertime. Baby It’s You, my first documentary though not my first film, premiered at Sundance 1998, was the lead show on P.O.V., aired on Channel 4 in the UK and screened at the Whitney Biennial 2000. Though motherhood eluded me, Baby It’s You, is the film that turned me into a documentary filmmaker.

"A fearless, touching account." —Janet Maslin, New York Times 
"A whimsical and completely moving meditation, simultaneously warm, funny and painful."
—Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times  
"Glorious! Stirring! Funny and poignant. This baby from Makepeace Productions is honest and
intellectually captivating." 
—Marilyn Moss, Hollywood Reporter

Read more about Baby It's You on · Purchase DVD

Coming to Light Reaches New Audiences
Coming To Light
I was amazed to learn that more than 25,000 people clicked on (and, I hope, watched)  Coming to Light during its first quarter of digital release through the Sundance Artists’ Services program. I have no idea how those numbers translate into funds, but I’m hoping for some relief from the strains of having three projects in the development (aka indigent) phase. If you missed it, you can stream or download the film on iTunes, Amazon, Netflix, Hulu et al, or
Buy the DVD here.

More Springtime News

We Still Live Here Rocks On!


I am very pleased to be returning to my alma mater, Stanford University, on May 30th for a screening of We Still Live Here as part of the United Nations Association Film Festival’s Camera as Witness Series. I made my first films as a graduate student at Stanford, when the mascot was still the Stanford Indian. Fortunately, times have changed, and I am really looking forward to sharing the panel discussion after the film with members of the Native American Studies program, to be moderated by Jasmina Bojic, Founder of UNAFF. Please come if you are in the area! Event Website
Next stop, the Mendocino Film Festival where We Still Live Here screens on Saturday, June 1st. I am so looking forward to seeing many old friends and their films, especially Nancy Kelly and Kenji Yamamoto’s Rebels with a Cause, John Haptas and Kris Samuelson’s Tokyo Waka, Rob and Lisa Fruchtman’s Sweet Dreams, Mark Kitchell’s A Fierce Green Fire, and many more. Thank you, Pat Ferrero, for inviting me to Mendocino! Event Website
In addition, here’s a link to a Radio Curious interview I did for the festival.

If any of you are heading to Telluride over Memorial Day weekend, you are in for a treat. It’s the MountainFilm Festival’s 25th anniversary, and while I can’t go this year, I have written a blog post in in honor of this wonderful event in Telluride’s glorious setting. In 2011, MountainFilm presented We Still Live Here  with their Moving Mountains award, a prize that the Wampanoags used to found their first ever language immersion camp for kids. Thank you MountainFilm!

We Still Live Here
Some recent news about Jessie Little Doe Baird, founder and teacher of the Wampanoag Language Reclamation Project (WLRP) who is featured in We Still Live Here. Jessie was recently elected as the Vice Chairwoman of the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe, and has also been appointed to the Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities and Public Policy by Governor Deval Patrick. She continues helping her teacher trainees to become fluent speakers, assuring the language for future generations. 
Go Jessie!

Our Mother Tongues
Explore the Our Mother Tongues Website

Check out great photos, watch Videos and learn about many Native American languages from Alaska to North Carolina, Oklahoma to New York, Montana to Massachusetts. There is even an Interactive Map, a Voices page where you can listen to thirteen different Native tongues, a Blog, and a fun feature called ePostcards offering an entertaining way to connect with friends and family by sending audio greetings in a Native American language.

Just in, a new Blog Post from the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribal Language Department about its language activities and community-based language revitalization programs. Read more ...

Can you guess which icon below goes with which tribe on the
Our Mother Tongues website? 
Click to find out!
Our Mother Tongues

Please visit

From Lisa K —
I have recently viewed We Still Live Here which was purchased for our library collection. I was completely blown away and would love to have a screening for our campus community with a discussion with Anne Makepeace. 
From Barbara D —
I got to see the film screened in Portland last month at the U of O Journalism center. It blew me away. Great film making as well as a very vital and important story. 
From Jane WM —
We had a diverse audience of about a hundred, and we had a good discussion afterwards. At the end this nice looking Hispanic gentleman came up and said, "I didn't really want to speak out but I am Hispanic from El Salvador and have Mayan blood and they of course were replaced by the Aztecs ..." This movie is such a beginning of such a long and rich conversation. I would love to know and work with your other films!

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