Chicago Film Fest 2019: Once Upon A River

Once Upon A River

Haroula Rose’s feature film, Once Upon A River, features stunning performances and camerawork as the indie plays the festival circuit.

Bonnie Joe Campbell’s novel comes to the big screen in this well-made feature.  Margo Crane (Kenadi DelaCerna, making her feature debut) is a Native American teenager living in rural Michigan.  What drives the teen in this coming-of-age story is the search for her estranged mother (Lindsay Pulsipher).  As Margo goes on this journey, she utilizes what she’s been taught by her father (Tatanka Mean).  As Margo continues her search, she meets Smoke (John Aston) and they form a friendship that we probably don’t see all that often.

Charlotte Hornsby’s cinematography is stunning to say the least.  No matter what anyone things about the story, the cinematography here is absolutely beautiful.  I can honestly go on and on about the camerawork!  The film also takes place in Michigan during the late 1970s so credit to the film team for recreating the time period.

Cinema comes in all shapes and sizes.  This is certainly a film that is drawing an audience by way of the festival circuit.  At a time when blockbusters take so much attention, it’s important to draw attention to the indie films, too.  They’re the films that are fighting for screen time.  Sadly, they’re also the films that might not find an audience until you’re figuring out what to watch while sitting on your couch.  All this is beside the point because Haroula Rose has made a film that’s worthy of our attention.

There are three chances to catch Once Upon A River during the Chicago International Film Festival.  I highly recommend that you take advantage of the opportunity.

CAST:  Kenadi DelaCerna, John Ashton, Tatanka Means, Coburn Goss, Lindsay Pulsipher

Once Upon A River screens during the 2019 Chicago International Film Festival in the City-State program. Grade: 4/5

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.