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The devastating experience of searching for a loved one who’s disappeared-acclaimed NFB short doc this river premieres online, November 25 Stream it free-of-charge from NFB.ca and partner platforms


this river award

November 24, 2016 – Vancouver – National Film Board of Canada (NFB)

Starting November 25, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, Canadians everywhere can access Katherena Vermette and Erika MacPherson’s award-winning National Film Board of Canada (NFB) short documentary this river free-of-charge on NFB.ca, the NFB’s YouTube channel, as well as on the CBC Docs channel’s online shorts platform.

Watch this powerful short documentary on the platform of your choice, or download it from NFB.ca. It’s a 20-minute Indigenous perspective on the devastating experience of searching for a loved one who’s disappeared―and a film you won’t forget.

Winner of the Coup de coeur du jury award at its world premiere at the Montréal First Peoples Festival, this river is written and directed by Katherena Vermette, a Métis writer, and filmmaker Erika MacPherson.

The film focuses on Vermette and Kyle Kematch, Winnipeggers who have both experienced the heartbreak of losing a loved one. Kyle has a sister who went missing over five years ago. He now works with Drag the Red, a volunteer organization that searches the Red River for clues relating to missing members of the Indigenous community. Vermette’s poetry stems from a family tragedy of her own, which took place over 20 years ago. Though their stories are different, they each exemplify the beauty, grace, resilience, and activism born out of the need to do something. this river is produced by Alicia Smith and executive produced by David Christensen for the NFB’s North West Studio.

The film has also inspired an Instagram companion piece, What Brings Us Here, now online. Created by author and filmmaker Katherena Vermette and Alicia Smith, What Brings Us Here profiles volunteers of Drag the Red and the Bear Clan Patrol, grassroots MMIWG and MMIP movements in Winnipeg. These dedicated individuals patrol neighbourhoods and search the banks and water of the Red River in response to the problem of missing people in their community.

About the filmmakers

Katherena Vermette is a Métis writer of poetry, fiction and children’s literature. Her first book, North End Love Songs, won the 2013 Governor General’s Literary Award for Poetry and was the 2015 selection for On the Same Page, Manitoba’s province-wide book club. Her work has appeared in several literary magazines and anthologies. Her first novel, The Break, was published this year.

Erika MacPherson’s video art and documentary films have screened at festivals and galleries internationally. She is currently in post-production on a film about her settler heritage. Erika makes her home in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Treaty One territory.

Alicia Smith is a producer for the NFB in Winnipeg, where she works with filmmakers and artists to create documentary, animation and interactive audiovisual works. Her recent credits include producing this river as well as co-writing and producing (with Igloolik-based filmmaker Bonnie Ammaaq) Nowhere Land (2015), which won Best Short Documentary at Toronto’s imagineNATIVE festival. Alicia’s interactive credits include such projects as God’s Lake Narrows (2011) and Seven Digital Deadly Sins (2014), both Webby Award winners.


Associated Links

International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women

NFB’s YouTube channel

CBC Docs channel’s online shorts platform

What Brings Us Here

Media Relations

  • About the NFB

    The NFB is Canada’s public producer and distributor of award-winning documentaries and auteur animation, working with talented creators across the country. The NFB is taking action to combat systemic racism and become a more open and diverse organization, while working to strengthen Indigenous-led production and gender equity in film. NFB productions have won more than 7,000 awards, including 12 Oscars. To access this unique content, visit NFB.ca.