FilmRise, the New York-based film and TV studio and streaming network, and Canal+ Docs have boarded “Missing From Fire Trail Road,” Sabrina Van Tassel (“The State of Texas vs. Melissa“)’s long-gestated documentary film about the crimes against indigenous women.
“Missing From Fire Trail Road” sheds light on the case of Mary Ellen Johnson-Davis, a Native-American woman who disappeared in 2020, and exposes how hundreds of indigenous women continue to go missing in the US, perpetuating trans-generational trauma on Indian reservations.
The announcement was made today by Max Einhorn, SVP of acquisitions and co-productions at FilmRise, Christine Cauquelin, head of documentaries at Canal+ and Van Tassel, who is also producing the feature.
FilmRise and Canal+ had handled “The State of Texas vs. Melissa,” another social justice documentary which looked at the U.S. judicial system through the story of Melissa Lucio, the first Hispanic woman on death row in Texas. The release of the documentary sparked a significant national debate and was championed by personalities such as Susan Sarandon and Kim Kardashian. Thanks to the grassroots campaign and widespread support, Lucio’s execution was halted. The documentary, which world premiered at Tribeca, was also sold to key distributors around the world.
“Sabrina is a brilliant filmmaker whose documentaries bring awareness to topics and subjects that are often overlooked, but are no less important,” said Max Einhorn. “We are honored to be working with Sabrina on (this new film) and we couldn’t be more thrilled to be collaborating with Canal+,” Einhorn continued.
“The atrocities committed against indigenous communities must become a mainstream issue so we can bring about change,” the executive added.
Cauquelin, said that “After acquiring ‘The State of Texas vs Melissa’, we supported Sabrina’s incredible impact campaign which helped save Melissa Lucio’s life.”
“Today, we are thrilled to be on board of with her new film. Thousands of Native American women go missing in the U.S. in utter indifference and it is time this urgent matter be brought to the table. We are proud to accompany Sabrina, along with FilmRise, on this important documentary,” Cauquelin continued.
FilmRise will have worldwide distribution rights, all media, excluding France and French speaking territories overseas and in Africa, which Canal + Docs will hold.
Van Tassel, an investigative journalist who’s directed over 40 documentaries for TV and made her docu feature debut with the documentary “The Silenced Walls,” started developing “Missing From Fire Trail Road” years ago.
“Missing from Fire Trailer Road” examines the case of Mary Ellen Johnson-Davis who disappeared three years ago from the Tulalip tribe, a small and peaceful community near Seattle, Washington. The docu then builds a broader canvas highlighting the fact that Native-American women go missing at a higher rate than any other population in the U.S.. Most of these crimes go unsolved and are committed by non-natives. Complex tribal jurisdictional issues, lack of full reporting and accounting of missing indigenous people, have created legal loopholes on Indian reservations. This unjustifiable situation, which emanates from the genocide perpetrated against Native-Americans, has turned reservations into hunting grounds for serial rapists and large-scale sex-trafficking.
“I feel compelled to expose these stories of missing indigenous women who are forgotten and whose cases never receive any public attention. More than a crime doc, this film will explore how the traumas have passed on from generation to generation since first contact between natives and European settlers,” said Van Tassel. “I feel extremely lucky to have both FilmRise and Canal+ Docs supporting me on this project,” she added.
The deal was negotiated by the FilmRise Acquisitions Team and Christine Cauquelin for Canal + Docs, with Sabrina Van Tassel.