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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

    Founded in 1939, the National Film Board of Canada (NFB) is a one-of-a-kind producer, co-producer and distributor of distinctive, engaging, relevant and innovative documentary and animated films. As a talent incubator, it is one of the world’s leading creative centres. The NFB has enabled Canadians to tell and hear each other’s stories for over eight decades, and its films are a reliable and accessible educational resource. The NFB is also recognized around the world for its expertise in preservation and conservation, and for its rich and vibrant collection of works, which form a pillar of Canada’s cultural heritage. To date, the NFB has produced more than 14,000 works, 6,500 of which can be streamed free of charge at nfb.ca. The NFB and its productions and co-productions have earned over 7,000 awards, including 11 Oscars and an Honorary Academy Award for overall excellence in cinema.