New York-based film and television studio and streaming network FilmRise and Canal+ Docs, the French TV Network part of Canal+, have teamed up to release the newest documentary from director Sabrina Van Tassel (The Silenced Walls, The State of Texas vs. Melissa) — Missing From Fire Trail Road.
FilmRise will have worldwide distribution rights, all media, excluding France and French speaking territories overseas and in Africa, which Canal+ Docs will hold.
The film delves into 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 United States, perpetuating transgenerational trauma on Indian reservations. On Nov. 25, 2020, Johnson-Davis disappeared from the Tulalip tribe, a small and peaceful community near Seattle. Her case highlights a harsh and shameful truth: Native-American women go missing at a higher rate than any other population in the United States. Most of these crimes go unsolved and are committed by non-natives. Complex tribal jurisdictional issues and lack of full reporting and accounting of missing indigenous people have created legal loopholes on Indian reservations. The situation has turned reservations into hunting grounds for serial rapists and large-scale sex-trafficking.
“Sabrina is a brilliant filmmaker whose documentaries bring awareness to topics and subjects that are often overlooked, but are no less important,” Max Einhorn, SVP of acquisitions and co-productions at FilmRise, said in a statement. “We are honored to be working with Sabrina on her follow-up to State of Texas vs. Melissa, and we couldn’t be more thrilled to be collaborating with Canal+. The atrocities committed against indigenous communities must become a mainstream issue so we can bring about change.”
“After acquiring The State of Texas vs Melissa, we supported Sabrina’s incredible impact campaign which helped save Melissa Lucio’s life,” Christine Cauquelin, group director of documentaries for Canal+, said in a statement. “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.”
“I feel compelled to expose these stories of missing indigenous women who are forgotten and whose cases never receive any public attention,” Van Tassel said in a statement. “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. I feel extremely lucky to have both FilmRise and Canal+ Docs supporting me on this project.”
Van Tassel is known for her documentaries focusing on social justice and political matters. Her 2020 feature The State of Texas vs. Melissa led to numerous petitions for a stay of execution for Melissa Luccio, who was to be the first Hispanic woman executed in Texas.