By FF2 Contributor Lindsy M. Bissonnette
Filmmaker Melinda Janko has always been attracted to stories about “the triumph of the human spirit” and her work on 100 Years: One Woman’s Fight For Justice is no exception. Ms. Janko’s dedication and passion is evident in the deeply moving and disturbing story of Elouise Cobell’s fearlessness while taking on the United States government in the largest class action lawsuit in history. With all of the protesting over the North Dakota Access Pipeline, this documentary is more poignant than ever.
Q: What made you want to tell this story, what drew you to it?
A: I discovered the story in 2002 Mother Jones magazine about the broken Indian Trust and Elouise Cobell’s fight for justice. I was appalled by the injustice and vowed to bring the story to the world.
Q: What were some challenges that took place while creating a film like this where the government isn’t shown in a favorable light? (we applaud you for doing so! This story is so important!)
A: It took me 2 years to get the government to talk to me and when they did it was only if I agreed to follow strict protocol. I had to submit a list of questions I wanted to ask and they selected the ones they would discuss.
Q: Knowing what you know now, if you could go back and give yourself one piece of advice, what would it be?
A: Be patient, it will all come together in God’s perfect time.
Q: What is next for 100 Years?
A: We hope and pray that we make the short list for the 2017 Academy Awards. And of course, getting the film out. We are getting requests for screenings all around the world and have already been contacted by public schools who want the film to be a part of their curriculum.
Q: Can we expect to see it on other festival listings?
A: Yes, we are submitting to more film festivals for 2017.
Q: What is one thing you want people to know about this film?
A: That 100 Years is about one of the biggest injustices in U.S. history, and Elouise Cobell, who posthumously received the Presidential Medal of Freedom on Nov. 22, 2016, is a modern day hero who will go down in history next to the likes of Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King.
Q: What are the strengths of being a female director in your field?
A: I think the strengths of being a female director in the documentary world lie in the area of trust. We ask people to trust us with their stories and I think the instincts and nurturing traits that women have lead to stronger and more emotional storytelling.
Q: What are the challenges of being a female director in your field?
A: I think that, as in all fields, woman have to work harder to prove themselves.
Q: Anything else you’d like to share?
A: Thanks so much. I am honored to bring this story to the world!
© Lindsy M. Bissonnette FF2 Media (12/6/16)
Lindsy M. Bissonnette is a freelance director, and comedy performer/writer in New York City. She has an MFA in
Performing Arts from the Savannah College of Art and Design, where she wrote a thesis on using improvisation in the rehearsal room. Before that, she earned her BFA in Acting and Directing and a BA in Communications from the University of Rhode Island.
___________________________________________________________________________Top Photo : Elouise in D.C.
Middle Photo: Elouise with President Obama.
Bottom Photo: Filmmaker Melinda Janko.
Photo Credits: Melinda Janko