Disconnected from her indigenous roots, a Seattle based podcaster returns to her maternal Rez determined to unearth the mystery surrounding her mother’s death.
The Lhaq’tmish, the Lummi People are the original inhabitants of Washington State’s northernmost coast and southern British Columbia.
Leaves Awaken is a six part series set on the Salish Sea of Sk’elotses, the Lummi Nation homeland—known for its mercurial beauty, where the forest meets the sea.
For decades women and girls as young as nine-years-old have disappeared from towns along the I-5 corridor and Highway 16; commonly referred to as ‘The Highway of Tears’. Their bones erupt from the forest floor or swim free from river beds.
Ninety miles to the south, in the growing density of Seattle lives NAYA MCQUEEN, a half indigenous, half Irish-queer-punk podcaster. Inspired by the Riot Grrrl feminist movement of the 90’s and the murder of punk rocker Mia Zapata, Naya is focusing her next podcast: ’Serial Killers of the Pacific Northwest’. Disturbingly, the Pacific Northwest has produced many infamous serial killers, there’s even a bar where a few were rumored to have drank. As Naya traces the distance between the bar and Seattle, she discovers its close proximity to the Lummi Nation reservation where she was born.
Shortly before departing for the Rez, Naya learns that her mother didn’t die from illness, she went missing and was never found. Why has her father been lying to her all these years and more importantly, what happened to mother?
Leaves Awaken is a women-led, cross-cultural collaboration involving Good Film Works, Children of the Setting Sun Productions and Lummi Nation.
co-Writer & Director, Beth Pielert
Beth Pielert is a writer, director, and producer of documentary and fiction films. Pielert formed Good Film Works in 2001 while writing & directing, Out of the Poison Tree for PBS, a documentary that explores truth and reconciliation for survivors of the Cambodian Genocide. Some of her credits include award-winning films such as The Corporation, winner of 24 international Awards, including the Sundance Audience Award, and Claiming the Title: Gay Olympics on Trial, winner of the Independent Spirit Award.
Beth is a Rainier Independent Film Festival fellow in screenwriting for Leaves Awaken and a semi-finalist for the Academy Nicholl Fellowship and the Middlebury Screenwriting Lab for her screenplay, The Vanishing Point.
In addition to filmmaking, Pielert uses photography in service of social justice, publishing two powerful photo essays: Vaquer@ Mexican@, which celebrates the Mexican cowboys and cowgirls of Half Moon Bay, and The faces of Standing Rock: 12 stunning photos of water protectors for .Mic.
Co-Producer, Darrell Hillaire
Darrell Hillaire is a Producer, Director and the founder of Children of the Setting Sun Productions (COTSSP) which is dedicated to sharing the rich history, stories and historical traditions of the Salish people through books, plays, podcasts, music, and film.
Prior to COTSSP, Darrel founded the Lummi Youth Academy, providing live-in learning and college preparation. It is now in it’s 12th year.
Darrell and team are dedicated to creating work that reflects the beauty, times and challenges that the Salish people face and includes the play: What About Those Promises and the documentary films, Tell the Truth and The Salmon People. In addition to the books: Beginnings and Jesintel, COTSSP produces the bi-weekly podcast, Friends & Relatives.
Co-Writer, Marie Clements
Marie Clements (Metis/Dene) is an award-winning writer, director and producer who has carved her brand of independent story-making in a variety of mediums including film, t.v., radio, and live performance.
As a writer/director/producer her films have showcased on some of the most prestigious film festivals including: The Cannes International Film Festival, The Toronto International Film Festival, Hot Docs International Film Festival, Imaginative Film Festival and The Vancouver International Film Festival.
Her live performance works have showcased nationally and internationally including productions at The National Arts Centre, The Festival des Ameriques, and The Push International Performance Festival. Clements is dedicated to the craft of story and brings her diverse experience as a performer, film-maker and theatre-maker to the world of inter-related voice and vision. Her company MCM is an independent media production company based in Vancouver that specializes in the development, creation and production of innovative works of media that ignite an Indigenous and intercultural reality.
Writing Consultant & Social Worker, P.C. Hillaire
P.C. Hillaire has been a social worker for over two decades, focusing on the welfare of Lummi children in the foster care system. Her work has resulted in new laws that protect both Native children and grandparents, keeping families together when circumstances mandate that a child must be removed from a parent. Hillaire is a mother, a grandmother and a poet. She brings an important perspective on the need to speak out, to stop violence against Native women, and to promote the importance of healing.
Design & Drone, Beau Garreau
Beau Garreau is a photographer and graphic designer. He is the founder of DAKO.5TUDIOS, in addition, he is the Creative Director at Children of the Setting Sun Productions. Beau brings his excellent design aesthetic and drone cinematography talents to Leaves Awaken.
Director of Photography, Jordyn Roach
Jordyn Roach is a talented Director of Photography. She has photographed three independent feature films, working in the unpredictable Pacific Northwest including: Off the Beaten Path, Mount Adams, and Last Hero. Raised in the PNW, she has a deep-rooted relationship with the vast forests, history and rain of the region that reveals itself in the styling and details of her cinematic work. Most recently, an appetite for adventurous filmmaking sent her on a journey in 2018 through 8 European countries documenting an AI thought leader's campaign as a YouTube series Moving Humanity Forward.
Sound Designer & Audio Recordist, Christiann Burch
Christiann 'Christy' Burch is an audio recordist and sound designer based in the Pacific Northwest. Burch was a forest ranger for 15+ years in Florida. In her short, audio career she has worked on numerous well-known Portland Indie films including the award-winning horror feature Waldgeist, and the much anticipated coming of age drama feature, Woodstock or Bust. Her credits include numerous award-winning short films such as G.I.A, Outer and Call Harry.