Produced by Voyager and Gnarly Bay and Directed by Diné/Navajo Filmmaker Fritz Bitsoie and Charles Frank, the short documentary film “Through The Storm” made its world premiere at Big Sky Film Festival in Missoula, MT on February 19th, securing the esteemed Artistic Vision Award. 

“‘Through The Storm’ follows a team of charismatic underdogs in a reservation community where football makes a vital impact,” shares the Big Sky Film Festival Jury. “Sharp editing, a responsive score and a keen eye for character showcase how these young athletes and their coach draw strength and resilience from each other. The film beautifully portrays the trust held between contributors and filmmakers, and the power of time spent within the Red Lake Nation." 

"Working on this film alongside Director Fritz Bitsoie, DP Leo Maco, Producer Emma Jackson, Editor Nico Frank and the entire Voyager and Gnarly Bay team has been an honor of a lifetime,” expresses Frank. “From the moment we arrived in Red Lake and met with Coach Nolan Desjarlait and members of the community, we were met with nothing but warmth and kindness. Winning this award is a testament to the magic and love we found and were able to capture in Red Lake." 

The 23-minute short film follows the 2023 season of the Red Lake Nation (Ojibwe) high school football team in a reservation community where football holds significant importance. Despite dwindling interest and a two-decade-long losing record, a determined coach and group of young athletes fight to keep their football program alive. The film intimately explores the personal lives of the Red Lake community, authentically portraying the experiences of coming of age in the Ojibwe reservation. 

“It was empowering to be a part of a team that fostered a supportive and respectful approach to the story, the land and its subjects throughout the production of this film, and it will be something that I will always cherish,” adds Bitsoie. “Getting to collaborate with this team to make a film that subverts the sports narrative was inspiring. I'm super proud of the team and the film we made." 

The film made additional screenings at Willard Alternative High School on February 21st and the Missoula County Juvenile Detention Facility on the 22nd with plans to further engage in the festival circuit in the coming months.  It will screen at the AmDocs Film Festival on March 21st, 2024.