Saturday, June 8, 2024


Using the case of Mary Ellen Johnson-Davis, a Native American woman who disappeared in 2020 MISSING FROM FIRE TRAIL ROAD is an exploration of the abuse and mistreatment of indigenous people in America.
Director Sabrina Van Tassel returns to Tribeca with a look at something that in't discussed enough, it at all and that is the murder of indigenous women is running at an unnaturally high rate. Too many women are going missing, getting lost in part because the "white" world doesn't care and because the laws that are in place hamper the Tribal Authorities. As one woman says, until relatively recently if a white person abused a Native American there wasn't anything that the could be done to prosecute them. 

The problem is so bad that when I interviewed activist, actress and World Champion boxer Kali Reis at Tribeca three years ago we talked about the problem since it was the subject of the film she was promoting.

While MISSING s a very good conversation starter the film has pacing and organizational  issues like Van Tassel's earlier films. The pacing problem is that the films a bit too leisurely to start  There isn't a sense of urgency in how the material is presented to match the urgency in the way the friends and family of missing Mary Ellen Johnson-Davis speak about the case. The film's shift toward telling the story of the removal and abuse of Native children seems out of place. Yes it's an important story, but it some how feels grafted into  Johnson-Davis' story.

MISSING... is not a bad film. It does raise some important issues. However it could have used a more focused  and urgent telling.

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