Daughter of a Lost Bird

Directed by Brooke Pepion Swaney

US | 2021 | 66 minutes | Color | DVD | English | Order No. W211281 |

Kendra Mylnechuk Potter, a Native woman adopted into a white family, reconnects with her Native identity and begins to view herself as a living legacy of U.S. assimilationist policy.

SYNOPSIS

“Lost birds” – a term for Native children adopted out of their tribal communities. Right after the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978 became the law of the land, Kendra Mylnechuk Potter was adopted into a white family and raised with no knowledge of her Native parentage. This beautiful and intimate film follows Kendra on her journey to find her birth mother April, also a Native adoptee, and return to her Lummi homelands in Washington State. With a sensitive yet unflinching lens, director Brooke Swaney (Blackfeet/Salish) documents Kendra and April as they connect with relatives and navigate what it means to be Native, and to belong to a tribe from the outside looking in. Along the way, Kendra uncovers generations of emotional and spiritual beauty and pain and comes to the startling realization that she is a living legacy of U. S. assimilationist policy. By sharing a deeply personal experience of inherited cultural trauma, the film opens the door to broader and more complicated conversations about the erasure of Native culture and questions of identity surrounding adoption.

PRESS

"…Real, thoughtful, kind and provocative…"

Anselm Beach and Patricia Aufderheide IDA

"Captures an intense, personal search filled with kindness and love."

Darlene Naponse Hot Docs Film Festival

"This poignant story provides living proof that history is not only the past, but the present too."

Human Rights Watch Film Festival

"A courageous endeavor to understand oneself while allowing the camera to follow each trial and tribulation. The film is an exploration of sorrow and joy, and all of those confusing emotions in between."

Eric Moore AFI Docs

“A portrait of two courageous women -- mother and daughter - - who are willing to allow us into their remarkable journey to find each other and their heritage.”

Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat Spirituality & Practice

“There’s a real sense of collaboration between Kendra and Swaney, and accountability on Swaney’s part to tell this story truthfully, which is refreshing to see in nonfiction filmmaking."

Orla Smith Seventh Row

"When Kendra Mylnechuk cold calls her birth mother...she is drawn, almost reluctantly, into an exploration of this history and of her own complex feelings of guilt, belonging, and loss. For the intimacy and depth of her portrayal of Kendra’s journey, the Emerging Filmmaker Award goes to Brooke Pepion Swaney."

SCREENING HIGHLIGHTS AND AWARDS

  • Best Female Director, Woodstock Film Festival
  • Special Mention, Best Emerging Filmmaker, Woodstock Film Festival
  • Human Rights Watch Film Festival, NY 2021
  • Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival 2021
  • AFI Film Festival, 2021
  • Maoriland Film Festival 2021
  • Gimli Film Festival 2021
  • Ashland Independent Film Festival 2021
  • Vancouver Film Festival 2021
  • Heartland Film Festival 2021

ABOUT FILMMAKER(S)

Brooke  Pepion Swaney

Brooke Pepion Swaney (Blackfeet/Salish) works to tell Native stories. Most recently, she made the Blacklist’s Inaugural Indigenous List with TINDER ON THE REZ along with her co-writer, and WMM filmmaker, Angela Tucker. She also produced BELLA VISTA, SIXTY FOUR FLOOD and the podcast ALL MY RELATIONS with Matika Wilbur and Dr. Adrienne Keene. In 2021, she became an inaugural fellow as part of a filmmaker residency/incubator with the Woodstock Film Festival and White Feather Arts. She holds an MFA in Film from NYU.  (07/21)

Credits: 
Director and Producer: Brooke Pepion Swaney 
Executive Producer: Gita Saedi Kiely 
Executive Producers for Vision Maker Media: Shirley Sneve & Francene J. Blythe-Lewis 
Producers: Kendra Mylenchuk Potter and Jeri Rafter 
Editor: Kristen Swanbeck 
Composer: Laura Ortman 
Associate Producers: Sky Hopinka and Susan Harness 
Director of Photography: Zelmira Gainza 
 
Featuring: 
Kendra Mylnechuk Potter 
April Kowalski 
Sandy Henderson  
Larry Mylnechuk  
Tyler Potter  
Sukha Potter  
Lucian Potter  
Scott Mylnechuk  
Chadaskadum Witchtalum  
Cheyanne Cooper  
Lutie Hillaire 
Timmy Hillaire  
Adele Kinley  
Lawerence Soloman  
Ben Covington 
Kristin Kinley  
Jackie Jefferson  
Julie Finkbonner  
Della Finkbonner  
Bob Finkbonner  
Rita Jefferson  
Terry Cross  
Penny Hillaire  
Leland Cooper  
Patrick Jefferson 

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