In 1968 the abused, neglected and repressed American Indian people fought back. From the depths of despair Dennis Banks, co-founder of the American Indian Movement (AIM), led his people into confrontation with the government and changed their lives forever. A stirring account of the forgotten Indian civil rights movement, this documentary recounts not only the struggle but also depicts the terrible repression they endured.
"I was crying and I was yelling. The kids didn't want to go." Dennis remembers the first time he felt the American repression against American Indians, when he was forced to go to boarding school for "cultural assimilation". Taken away from his family at the age of 5, he wouldn't be allowed to return home for four years. "You couldn't relate to your Indianness" he explains. If someone was caught speaking their native language, they would be violently punished.
Inspired by feminist, anti-war and civil rights movements that were taking place at the time, Dennis began to be more and more interested in how he could bring about a change for native people. On July 28th 1968, he gathered other American Indians to talk about the problems they faced, such as severe police brutality, unemployment and slum housing. "I felt we hit on a nerve", Dennis explained; "People were striving for change". Clyde Bellecourt, also an AIM co-founder, explained that the only solution was to "use confrontational politics". This meeting marked the beginning of AIM.
From this moment on, AIM was to face multiple battles to be able to achieve the change the movement was pursuing. From the siege of the Bureau of Indian Affairs in Washington D.C in 1972 to the occupation of Wounded Knee, South Dakota in 1973, the movement faced a tumultuous struggle. One of the most decisive moments in the AIM struggle was the aftermath of the murder of a young American Indian.
Although it was proven the act was premeditated, the murderer, a non-native, was not charged for murder. This is when Dennis said his famous words and the real battle against injustice started: "We will not tolerate any more abuse" he proclaimed. "This is where it started, and this is where it's going to end. It's a good day to die."
This inspirational documentary is a powerful insight into the modern day struggle of the American Indians while following the life of one of the community's most important figures; Dennis Banks. Speaking about his part in a lifetime of repression and struggle, Dennis humbly concludes, "I will go to my grave knowing that I tried my part to bring about meaningful change. I did my very best".
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Best Documentary, Deadcentre Film Festival , 2010
Juried Award - Best Documentary, Frozen River Film Festival, 2010
Juried Award - Best Documentary, Dreamspeakers Film Festival, 2010
Juried Award - Best Documentary, Winniped Aboriginal Film Festival, 2010
Juried Award - Best Documentary, International Cherokee Film Festival, 2010
Grand Jury Prize- Spirit of Action, Santa Cruz Film Festival, 2011
Lynn Salt & David Mueller
|Making the film
"A GOOD DAY TO DIE chronicles the rise of the American Indian Movement (AIM) through the life story of Dennis Banks. Banks co-founded the movement in 1968 to call attention to mistreatment of American Indians as well as to advocate for their rights and protection. We spent two years on the road with Banks interviewing hundreds of people who participated in the movement as well as law-enforcement officials and others involved in the turbulent events of the late 1960s and 1970s." - Filmmakers Lynn Salt (Choctaw) and David Mueller
"A Good Day To Die" is a directing collaboration between writing-producing partners David Mueller and Lynn Salt (Choctaw). A long-time advocate for American Indian issues, Lynn was an early member of the American Indian Registry for the Performing Arts in Los Angeles. She wrote the screenplay “The Haworth Bells”, which sold to Disney Studios and producer-directors Charles Shyer and Nancy Meyers. David co-produced "Dalai Lama Renaissance" (2007) narrated by Harrison Ford and directed "Beautiful Wave" (2011) starring Aimee Teegarden, Lance Henriksen, Patricia Richardson and Helen Slater, which he co-wrote and co-produced with Lynn. David's previous documentaries include: "Coach", "The Spirit of Peace", "Bolsa Chica: The Endangered Jewel", "Gazos Creek: The Majestic Forest" and "Peace Pilgrim". David and Lynn are members of the Directors Guild of America.Americans in the Arts Awards Shows in Los Angeles 2005-2007.