Q&A with “Dodging Bullets” Co-Director Bob Trench
By Meredith Williams
Four years ago, Bob Trench started work on a film about chronic disease management in America. However, his research and interviews took him down a different path.
While discussing the prevalence of diabetes in Indian Country, diabetes educator Cheryl BigHorn Savior said, “It all goes back to historical trauma – that’s the root cause.”
What is historical trauma? That’s a question Bob and his co-directors answer with their feature-length documentary, “Dodging Bullets,” showing Tuesday, November 13 at the North Dakota Human Rights Film Festival in Bismarck.
Q: How did the film evolve from that conversation with Cheryl?
A: I talked to the producer, Tom (Trench), and he had a connection that he worked with at a crisis center named Sarah (Edstrom). She had relationships in Duluth and Red Lake, and we started heading out to those areas to meet people and see where it took us. The conversation shifted to the high rate of suicide among Native Americans. That all led back to historical trauma.
Were you surprised by the direction the film took?
I was very surprised – pleasantly surprised.
What has been the response to the film?
It’s being embraced by Indian Country. Different entities, including large corporate offices such as Best Buy and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota, are continually reaching out to us wanting to screen the film. We’ve also been hearing from law enforcement. One chief of police who screened it wants all his officers to watch the film, so they have a better understanding of who Native Americans are, what issues they face and how we can help them. If that can happen, then the movie has accomplished more than I ever thought it could accomplish.
Were you surprised by any of the responses to the film?
We tested the film with a focus group full of people who are well educated in social justice. I could not believe the responses we got from them. We didn’t make any changes from the focus group. Someone said they thought anyone who’s interested in trauma, reconciliation and restorative justice should see the film.
Why do you think it’s important for non-Natives to see this film?
This problem requires acceptance of the deep harm that’s been done by white people, and when white people see this film, there’s this weird cultural problem that’s created. They don’t want to acknowledge the problems that have happened in the past. It really takes a special group to screen the film and share it with their community.
What impact did the filmmaking process have on you personally?
I was the guy at the beginning of the film. That’s how I felt – “historical trauma, what’s that?” It was a good project for me personally because I learned so much from so many people. I have to thank Sarah for educating me.
How did you choose the music featured in the film?
It was challenging to find the right music. The first thing we did was reach out to (Minneapolis rapper) Tall Paul, who’s featured in the beginning with Jonathan Thunder’s animation. Then we reached out to Keith Secola. When we showed him segments of the film, he said, “Oh my god, I have music that goes along with every segment of the film.” It all just came together.
If you’d like to learn more about historical trauma in Native Americans, Bob and Kathy will be on hand for discussion after “Dodging Bullets” screens during the evening session Tuesday, November 13, at the North Dakota Heritage Center and State Museum. Tickets cost $12 in advance, $15 at the door, and $2 for seniors and students. A Festival Pass to all screenings in Bismarck, Fargo and Grand Forks is available for $40. Follow the following links to get your tickets today: Bismarck or Fargo.
The mission of the North Dakota Human Rights Film and Arts Festival is to educate, engage, and facilitate discussion around local and world-wide human rights topics through the work of filmmakers and artist. 2018 is the second year for both the film and art festivals.
The 2018 North Dakota Human Rights Film and Arts Festival is made possible through the generosity of the Consensus Council, the City of Fargo’s Human Relations Commission, the City of Fargo’s Native American Commission, the Awesome Foundation: Cass Clay, and The High Plains Reader, and through partnerships with Lutheran Social Services of North Dakota, the NDSU Memorial Gallery, the North Dakota Human Rights Coalition. The Fargo screening of the film “Home.” was funded in part by Humanities North Dakota, a nonprofit, independent state partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in the screening of “Home.” do not necessarily reflect those of Humanities North Dakota or the National Endowment for the Humanities.