Celebrating Women’s History Month The Moviehouse FilmWorks Forum presents TRIBAL JUSTICE


Celebrating Women’s History Month

The Moviehouse
FilmWorks Forum presents

a film by Anne Makepeace
Sunday, March 26, 11:00 a.m.
The Moviehouse, 48 Main Street, Millerton, NY

Admission: FREE & open to the public.

Two judges, two tribes, one goal: restoring justice.

“Tribal legal systems … hold up an example to the nation about the possibilities of alternative dispute resolution. Their new methods have much to offer to the tribal communities, and much to teach the other court systems operating in the United States. “  The Honorable Sandra Day O’Connor.

MILLERTON, NY—Four years in the making, Anne Makepeace’s new documentary film, TRIBAL JUSTICE, will be screened as part of The Moviehouse’s FilmWorks Forum series onSunday, March 26th at 11:00 a.m. The film will be followed by a community discussion and Q&A with Makepeace in which we will examine the together the issues she raises in the film.

Tribal Justice follows two extraordinary Native American women, both chief judges for their tribes’ courts.  Abby Abinanti, Chief Judge of the Yurok Tribe on the northwest coast of California, and Claudette White, Chief Judge of the Quechan Tribe in the southeastern desert near Yuma, California, are creating innovative systems that focus on restoring rather than punishing offenders in order to keep tribal members out of prison, prevent children from being taken from their communities, and stop the school-to-prison pipeline that plagues their young people.

Makepeace met the judges four years ago, in February 2013, when she attended a California Tribal Court-State Court Forum meeting with Executive Producer Ruth Cowan. They were both immediately awed and moved by the judges’ dedication, passion, humor and determination to bring traditional forms of justice back to their people.  A few months later, Makepeace and her cinematographer Barney Broomfield were shooting in the judges’ courtrooms and in their lives, a process that continued over the next three years.  The documentary will air on the premiere documentary PBS series POV later in 2017.

Casting is half the battle with any film, and the filmmakers were fortunate to meet these two extraordinary women.  Abby is a fierce, lean, white-haired elder who has dedicated her life to humane justice.  In the 1970s, she became the first Native American lawyer in California, and practiced law in state courts, returning home in 2007 to become the Chief Judge of the Yurok Tribe, the largest tribe in California. Claudette represents a new generation of Native American lawyers and judges who are revisioning justice. The documentary follows several cases both in and out of their courts.  When we meet Taos Proctor in Abby’s court, he is facing a third strike conviction at age 26 for drug related felonies. We follow Taos, a boisterous bear of a man, over two years as Abby and her staff help him complete court programs and rebuild his life. A thousand miles south, Claudette invokes the Indian Child Welfare Act to reunite a nine-year-old boy with his family.  Meanwhile her teenage nephew, Isaac, faces two felony charges for breaking into cars.  Unlike Taos’ case, Isaac’s case cannot be transferred to tribal court, and his story in the film does not end well.

Restorative Justice has become a buzzword in mainstream legal circles, with many in the field advocating a shift from our punitive justice system to one that addresses root problems. Native American tribes have been doing this since time immemorial, resolving disputes by finding ways for offenders to right wrongs and restore balance to the community.  Abby and Claudette are reaching back to these methods to address the myriad problems on their reservations today – poverty, alcohol and drug abuse, the breakdown of families, loss of cultural connection – and to heal their communities from within, one case at a time.  And they are having a high percentage of success, as exemplified in two of the cases profiled in Tribal Justice. Mainstream courts are taking notice; collaborative courts from Brooklyn to Boulder are looking to Native American justice systems as models for transforming new restorative justice methods in their courts.  As Abby remarks in the film, “There’s a winner and loser when you walk out of state court, straight up. That isn’t okay here. It does not resolve the issue.”

To most Americans, indigenous people in this country are invisible, an overlooked minority seen as having vanished into history or stereotyped as venal casino owners or drunken derelicts. Few people are aware of the complexities of contemporary Indian life, or of the innovative work being done in tribal courts.

By showing two strong Native women judges creating new forms of justice based on their traditions, Makepeace hopes that her documentary will inspire indigenous communities here and around the world with renewed determination to provide culturally appropriate forms of justice to their people. She also hopes that mainstream courts, law schools, and other law related organizations will see the potential for their own practices to shift away from process and punishment oriented methods to more personal, humane, and effective ways of dealing with offenders.

For more information visit: http://www.makepeaceproductions.com/tribaljustice/

Anne Makepeace Bio

Anne Makepeace has been a writer, producer, and director of award-winning independent films for more three decades. Her new film, Tribal Justice, will premiere at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival in February 2017, followed by many festival screenings across the country and culminating in a national PBS broadcasts on POV later in the year. Her previous documentary,, We Still Live Here: Âs Nutayuneân, about the return of the Wampanoag language, had its broadcast premiere on the PBS series Independent Lens in November 2011. The film has won many awards, including the Full Frame Inspiration Award and the Moving Mountains Award at Telluride MountainFilm for the film most likely to effect important social change. The $3000 MountainFilm prize went directly to the Wampanoag Language Reclamation Project, enabling them to launch their first-ever language immersion camp for children. We Still Live Here was funded by ITVS, the Sundance Documentary Fund, the LEF Foundation, and the National Science Foundation, among others. Makepeace was able to complete the film with fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. Other recent films by Anne Makepeace include: I. M. PEI: Building China Modern (PBS broadcast on American Masters in 2010) and her Emmy nominated feature documentary Rain in a Dry Land (lead show on PBS P.O.V. 2007), which chronicles the journey and resettlement of two Somali Bantu refugee families from Africa through their first two years in America. Makepeace won a National Prime Time Emmy for her American Masters/PBS documentary Robert Capa in Love and War, which premiered at Sundance in 2003. Coming to Light, her documentary about Edward S. Curtis, also premiered at Sundance, was short-listed for an Academy Award in 2000, broadcast on American Masters in 2001, and won many prizes, including the O’Connor Award for Best Film from the American Historical Association, an Award of Excellence from the American Anthropological Association, a Gold Hugo from Chicago, Best Documentary at Telluride, and many others. Her first documentary, Baby It’s You, premiered at Sundance, was broadcast as the lead show on P.O.V. in 1998, and screened at the Whitney Biennial 2000.

For additional information: www.MakepeaceProductions.com.

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Author: Harlem Valley News