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Americana odyssey based on the best-selling novel by Bonnie Jo Campbellearns coveted spot at Geena Davis’s fifth annual film fest

championing diversity and inclusion, May 7 – 11, 2019

 “An excellent American parable
about the consequences of our favorite ideal, freedom.”
The New York Times

“One of the 50 most anticipated American films of 2019”
Filmmaker Magazine

“This film boasts a most unconventional heroine in Margo Crane”

Please click here for screening times and more information

LOS ANGELES/BENTONVILLE (May 9, 2019)— Filmmaker Haroula Rose, who has directed, produced and had her original music featured in projects like FRUITVALE STATION, AMERICAN HORROR STORY, STILL ALICE and LOST AND FOUND, makes her feature directorial debut with the stirring dramatic tale, ONCE UPON A RIVER, Bentonville’s Centerpiece Selection. Rose also wrote the screenplay.

The film was also produced by Jacqueline “JJ” Ingram, whose long list of impressive credits include CHASING THE BLUESOPERATOR(SXSW 2016, The Orchard), UNEXPECTED(Sundance, Film Arcade), and BABY MARY(SXSW 2014). JJ recently wrapped the comedy feature, THE LONG DUMB ROAD. Executive Producers include Heather Rae (FROZEN RIVERTALLULAHTRUDELL), and Sam Bisbee (COP CARTHE SENTENCEOTHER PEOPLE).

ONCE UPON A RIVER stars John Ashton(BEVERLY HILLS COP I & IIMIDNIGHT RUNTatanka Means (SAINTS & STRANGERS, A MILLION WAYS TO DIE IN THE WEST)Ajuawak Kapashesit(INDIAN HORSE)Sam Straley (THE KIDS ARE ALRIGHT, Chicago PD, HALACoburn Goss (BATMAN VS SUPERMAN, EMPIRE, WHAT WOMEN WANT),Lindsay Pulsipher(Touched by an Angel, True Blood) and Dominic Bogart(THE GLASS CASTLE, I AM NOT A HIPSTER, JUST MERCY). The film marks Kenadi DelaCerna’s big screen debut.

The film will make its world premiere at the Bentonville Film Festival on Friday, May 10 @ 4pm: Skylight 1 with an encore screening on Saturday, May 11 @ 10am: Skylight 3. Each screening will be followed by a Q&A with cast and crew. 

ONCE UPON A RIVER is based on the multiple-award winning, New York Times Best Seller of the same name, penned by the epic author, Bonnie Jo Campbell. Campbell is the former National Book Award and National Book Critics Circle Award-finalist for “American Salvage”. Shehas also won a Pushcart Prize and Eudora Welty prize among others.

“I’m thrilled and honored to be premiering ONCE UPON A RIVER at the 2019 Bentonville Film Festival, and as an official Centerpiece Selection, to boot,” said Rose. “Known for its diversity of programming and hands-on approach to empowering filmmakers, combined with our amazingly talented cast and crew and a film that is a captivating, moving, thrilling story of love, loss and inevitable empowerment is a perfect combination and a dream come true.”

“Harkening to WINTER’S BONE, IndieWire describes ONCE UPON A RIVER’s Margo Crane as a ‘15-year-old girl being raised in a riverside cabin amid the wilderness of western Michigan by her Native American father, after her white mother has abandoned them. Margo is a prodigy with a rifle, an eagle-eyed huntress, who idolizes Annie Oakley, and a stoic loner who guardedly strives to prove herself in a community dominated by men.’” Noted Campbell. “Kenadi DelaCerna’s big screen debut brings us an American heroine of exquisite strength and vulnerability.”

Set in rural Michigan in 1978Margo Crane, a 15-year-old part Native American girl must begin an unexpected odyssey on the Stark River to find her estranged mother after her father is killed in a tragic accident. On the road, Margo encounters wonders and dangers as she learns how to live life on her terms while processing her grief. Most importantly, she befriends an elderly man called Smoke who has given up on life, and they strike up a deep friendship and understanding. ONCE UPON A RIVERis an Americana odyssey based on the lauded best selling novel by Bonnie Jo Campbell which is, in the words of Jane Smiley forThe New York Times, “an excellent American parable about the consequences of our favorite ideal, freedom.”

“We’re beyond excited for audiences to see ONCE UPON A RIVER for the first time, and immerse themselves in this extremely powerful, time commercially viable film, that stays true to its artistic roots.” Said Ingram.

Haroula Rose, also an acclaimed singer-songwriter, co-wrote a song for the film with Peter Bradley Adams and composer Zac Rae, while lining up original music from the likes of Bonnie Prince Billy, JD Souther and Rodney Crowell on its impressive soundtrack which also includes period appropriate 70s psych folk, soul and Americana. The soundtrack will be available via Thirty Tigers, also an Executive Producer on the film.

“One of the great things about working with Haroula on films is that she is an exceptional musician who understands how music supports narrative at a deep level.  I love this movie, and the music is part of the reason why,” says David Maciasof Thirty Tigers, the acclaimed company based out of Nashville, an Executive Producer on the film.

Haroula Rose and Bonnie Jo Campbell will also be on a panel with members of the cast and other festival projects called “INDIGENOUS VOICES, ONCE UPON A RIVER”on Friday May 10th at 10am atthe Main Gallery Stage (21C). 

Interviews, imagery and video available upon request

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