DIRECTOR: PAIGE BETHMANN
PITCH + TEASER
Ku Stevens dreams of becoming an elite runner, but he struggles to balance the sport’s glorified individualism and the values of interconnectedness he was raised with on the reservation. When thousands of Native children’s remains are discovered, Ku reckons with his family’s dark past while running towards his future.
On the Yerington Paiute reservation in Nevada Kutoven, 18, “Ku” Stevens is the only child of Misty and Delmar Stevens. The reservation is quiet and Ku is restless. He dreams of following in the footsteps of his idol, the late Steve Prefontaine, who went to the University of Oregon before becoming an Olympic athlete. However, Ku doesn’t have a cross country team or the resources to travel to meets attended by recruiters. When thousands of Native children’s remains are discovered, Ku learns of his family’s painful history which forces him to reimagine his identity. In an act of reverence, Ku runs the same 50-mile escape route his great-grandfather used to flee an Indian boarding school at age 8. Ku draws power from Frank’s story. No competition, lap, or finish will ever be more arduous than what his people endured for centuries. Ku goes undefeated in both track and cross country, placing in the top 20 nationally and breaking a Nevada record to become State Champion. Remaining Native is a coming-of-age story that intertwines a dark history with the hopeful journey of a one teenager running toward his future.
A very close family friend recently told me that being Indigenous today carries with it a responsibility to both maintain a historical legacy of culture and tradition and to educate all people about that legacy and how it exists today in 2023. More than anything, my affiliation as an Indigenous person is to this responsibility.
I grew up immersed in my cultural identity. I am Haudenosaunee (people of the longhouse). As a young girl, I would spend time helping my paternal grandmother sell jewelry at powwows and listen to my maternal grandfather’s ideas of politics as an Oneida council member. I worked at a New York State Historic Site that was a 17th Century Onondawa’ga:’ (Seneca) village as an interpreter of history. At Ithaca College, I worked hard to form a Native student group and advocate for better, more equitable representation on campus. In New York City, for the last 10 years I’ve fought hard to pitch mainstream stories of Indigenous America to various media companies, some resulting in powerful projects but sadly most unacknowledged or deemed “too niche.”
Now, I’ve been working on my first documentary Remaining Native which, through my identity, has enabled me to reflect and honor my family’s story and the legacies, the responsibilities we carry as Indigenous people as we navigate the United States reckoning with boarding school history for the first time ever. As a storyteller, making a film was the best artistic expression to share the lives of those in this story with the same nuance and complexity as I’ve experienced as an Indigenous person today. Too often, Indigenous peoples are represented as relics of the past, through a lens that focuses solely on moments of struggle and deficit. This film intentionally finds beauty in every scene. As the sprawling desert landscape meets the soles of Ku’s running shoes, or a ceremonial fire illuminates the textures of the tobacco pouch, the audience is guided towards understanding both running and community as medicine.
VOTING OPENS THURSDAY, APRIL 27 • 10AM PT
VOTING CLOSES THURSDAY, MAY 11 • MIDNIGHT PT
WINNERS ANNOUNCED SUNDAY, MAY 14
|START OF PRODUCTION:||August 2021|
|EXPECTED DELIVERY:||January 2024|
|SHOOTING LOCATIONS:||United States|
|PRODUCTION COMPANY:||SCHH Films|
|PRODUCTION COUNTRY:||United States|
|CONFIRMED PARTNERS:||Perspective Fund, Tracksmith, Points North American Stories + CNN Films, Nia Tero, IDA, Running Strong for American Indian Youth, Sigma Lenses|
|CURRENT PROJECT STATUS:||Currently we are in post production, which began November 2022. We are working towards a rough cut in May 2023.|
Paige Bethmann is a Haudenosaunee director and producer based in Reno, Nevada. Over the last 10 years, Paige has worked in non-fiction television for various digital and broadcast networks such as ESPN, PBS, Vox Media, Youtube Originals, USA and NBC. As a filmmaker, Paige has been supported by the Nia Tero 4th World Media lab, Logan Non-Fiction Fellowship Program and 2022 PGA Create fellowship. Her debut feature film, Remaining Native, has also been supported by the IDA Logan Elevate Grant, Tracksmith, the Points North + CNN Films American Stories fellowship program, Perspective Fund, and Running Strong for American Indian Youth. A graduate of Ithaca College, Paige has a bachelor’s degree in Film, Television, and Radio from the Park School of Communications. Remaining Native will be her directorial debut.