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Running Shadow

Carlos Rafael Betancourt
United States, 2018, 14 min.

In English and Lakota (Indigenous) with English subtitles.

A young Lakota woman dreams of running competitively outside the Reservation, but with broken shoes and no real track to practice on, her chances seem slim. Even with the best shoes, she's haunted by the guilt that she couldn't run fast enough to save her sister from suicide. Those traumatic memories stop her from running fast enough on any track. When her coach father surprises her with a chance to compete off the Rez, her fears become unbearable. Only by revisiting her trauma and standing up to her father can she find the strength to run on her own terms.

Director's Statement

Running Shadow is an exploration of the strong, intangible emotional ties in a singular story about a young woman trying to make it out off the Reservation as a competitive runner. Like Jemma, I also had a dream beyond what my community was able to offer. I felt trapped within the insular circle of Cuba and wanted to escape the past, the traditions of my family and my own ghosts. I, too, deeply understood Jemma's estrangement from her father via my own experiences. The film narrates over a course of a day a lesson that actually took me awhile to understand. I realized that I had been selfish and I came to accept my family as they are. I've tried to cultivate my traditions, embrace my past, and face my ghosts. Like in the film, the ghosts will never go away, but I have to learn how to live with them. I chose to end the film with an open door for Jemma: maybe she does leave the Rez--like I did--or maybe she stays with her father. No matter what, she'll always bring "home"‌ with her.

Category: Drama.
Themes: Native American, Sports, Youth.

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