The River 8g - This River


This River

A poem written on a plain background reads 'indians drown / the family finds out / happens everyday / this land floods / with dead indians / this river swells / freezes / breaks open / cold arms of ice / welcomes indians'

[imagecaption] Screenshot of opening poem ‘indians’ by Katherena Vermette, ‘This River’.  [/imagecaption]


‘I do if for my sister – she’s [been] missing since November 2010. I don’t hope to find her in here but if she is, I want to get her. The police won’t do it, nobody else will.’

Kyle Kematch

The documentary ‘This River’ begins with a poem by Katherena Vermette that speaks of the mass of hidden Indigenous bodies that the Red River holds and conceals. The community-led initiative, ‘Drag the Red’, which inspired the film, highlights the search efforts carried out by families hoping to find their missing loved ones – in stark contrast to the extreme indifference of state authorities. As volunteers who lack the resources of a police department search the river, they pull out underwear, strands of hair and miscellaneous objects. As they do so, they face the prospect that they could be about to uncover the body of someone known to them. Filmed almost entirely on the river and centred on the experiences of Indigenous people who continue to search for their loved ones, the documentary provides a sense of how expansive and powerful the river is, and of the overwhelming nature of the task that the volunteers face.


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Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are respectfully advised that this website contains images of and references to deceased persons.

All viewers are respectfully advised that the site contains images of and references to the deaths in custody of Indigenous peoples, Black people and refugees that may cause distress.