Sugarcane

Duration: 107m Director: Julian Brave NoiseCat and Emily Kassie

Sugarcane

Winner: Directing Award; U.S. Documentary, 2024 Sundance Film Festival

A stunning tribute to the resilience of Native people and their way of life—SUGARCANE, the debut feature documentary from Julian Brave NoiseCat and Emily Kassie—is an epic cinematic portrait of a community during a moment of international reckoning. Set amidst a ground-breaking investigation into abuse and death at an Indian residential school, the film empowers participants to break cycles of intergenerational trauma by bearing witness to painful, long-ignored truths—and the love that endures within their families despite the revelation of genocide.

In 2021, evidence of unmarked graves near an Indian residential school run by the Catholic Church in Canada sparked a national outcry about the forced separation, assimilation, and abuse many children experienced at this network of segregated boarding schools designed to slowly destroy the culture and social fabric of Indigenous communities. When Kassie—a journalist and filmmaker—asked her old friend and colleague, NoiseCat, to direct a film documenting the Williams Lake First Nation investigation of St Joseph’s Mission, she never imagined just how close this story was to his own family. As the investigation continued, Emily and Julian traveled back to the rivers, forests and mountains of his homelands to hear the myriad stories of survivors. During production, Julian’s own story became an integral part of this beautiful multi-stranded portrait of a community. By offering space, time, and profound empathy the directors unearthed what was hidden. Kassie and NoiseCat encountered both the extraordinary pain these individuals had to suppress as a tool for survival and the unique beauty of a group of people finding the strength to persevere.

Expected to be in attendance at the festival:

Director Emily Kassie

Sugarcane Tickets