When they were students at Harvard, New York University film student Dominique Deleon had promised his roommate, an Ojibwe Indian, that he would one day use his medium to draw attention to both the beauty and hardships of reservation life.
As Indian County Today Media Network reports, that vow took on a new meaning when Deleon’s roommate, Duane Meat, returned to the Leech Lake Indian Reservation in Minnesota for
Meat was murdered by a gang member while walking on a street in Minneapolis.
With the help of filmmaker Spike Lee, “Rez,” a 19-minute short film about a teenager living on the Leech Lake Reservation, has been released. “Due to Lee’s support,” reporter Vincent Shilling wrote at ICTMN, “the project broke records on the Seed & Spark fundraising website as the fastest film to receive full funding within just 72 hours.”
Deleon spent a summer on the reservation writing the film.
“The first week I was on the rez I stayed in a small house with 7 adults and four dogs,” DeLeon recalls. “Across the way in Tract 33, which is portrayed in the film, a jilted boyfriend walked over to the house where his girlfriend was staying and shot her in the face. They had kids together
“I realized quickly that even though I’d done my research, even though I’d heard all the stories, nothing was going to prepare me to write this other than living there, being there. “
The short film is currently making the film festival rounds.
- Vince Devlin