Editor’s Note: This article was originally published by Four Points Press on March 6, 2022.
In late 2019, journalist Jon Decker struck out to make an independent documentary on the subject, relying on crowdfunding and side gigs in the local film and temping industry.
His film, They Are Gone, highlights Montana’s MMIP epidemic by interviewing the family members of Selena Not Afraid, Kaysara Stops Pretty Places and Kymani Littlebird, as well as state representatives, leaders, and tribal members.
“Making this film was a life-changing experience, and I hope that by sharing it with other people, more folks in Montana and beyond can be made aware of this massive problem,” Decker said. “I was really amazed that so many people were willing to speak to an outsider like me about such a personal and devastating issue and I do just want to thank them personally for being willing to do that with me.”
After nearly a year of shooting and editing, the film was finished, and accepted into the digital portions of the Bozeman International Film Festival, and the Global Peace Film Festival. They Are Gone, which premiered at the Bigfork Independent Film Festival in October 2021, is now available for free on YouTube.
Natives, especially young women, disappear or are murdered across the United States at alarming rates. The exact cause of this discrepancy is not entirely known due to a lack of proper documentation, policing, and resources, and a majority of the country is completely unaware of the problem.
They Are Gone will be featured at the Winterland Film Festival in Whitefish, Montana from Sept. 22 to 25, 2022 and is available on YouTube.
Decker said he would like to thank the members of the Native community for taking the time to share their stories with him, as well as his donors that made the project possible.