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A WGVU initiative in partnership with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation using on-air programs and community events to explore issues of inclusion and equity.

Local Sundance fellow films in West Michigan this June

Mariano Avila

“Mino Bimaadiziwin is a story about a young, trans-gender Anishnaabe man who has lost all connection to his culture living in the city. Until one day this mysterious Anishnaabe woman, Bungishimogikwe, comes into his life and kind of introduces him back into the culture and the community.”

That’s Shane McSauby, writer and director of the film who calls Grand Rapids home.

“So, I living in New York City, I’d just moved there after graduating from Grand Valley State, and spent some time with some awesome Native people. They really inspired me. And after that, I kind of wrote a script to reflect some of the experience and some of the people that I’ve met.”

The script he wrote got him a Sundance fellowship which came with a $20,000 production budget. Some months later, the two lead actors are confirmed, one being Grace Dove, who was part of the Oscar-winning movie Revenant, directed by Alejandro Iñarritu and starring Leonardo DiCaprio.

“We start shooting June 8-12. The final deadline for our project for Sundance Institute is August.”

McSauby says he hopes the film is selected to premiere at the Sundance film festival.

“I have to submit it along with all of the other, hundreds and hundreds of applicants who are interested in premiering their film in the Sundance Film Festival.”

Mariano Avila is WGVU's inclusion reporter. He has made a career of bringing voices from the margins to those who need to hear them. Over the course of his career, Mariano has written for major papers in English and Spanish, published in magazines, worked in broadcast, and produced short films, commercials, and nonprofit campaigns. He also briefly served at a foreign consulate, organized for international human rights efforts and has done considerable work connecting marginalized people to religious, educational, and nonprofit institutions through the power of story.
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