Once Upon a River
A film by Haroula Rose
A traditional coming-of-age story, Once Upon a River nonetheless boasts a most unconventional heroine in Margo Crane (newcomer Kendi DelaCerna in a knockout performance), 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. Her strong will carries her forward through a succession of horrifying events that compel her to leave home, and find her way through a series of encounters, as she goes in search of her mother.
Rose adapted the film from the 2011 novel of the same name, written by Bonnie Jo Campbell. “I really love that it’s about friendship and resilience in really difficult times but in a really unique way,” says Rose, an accomplished singer-songwriter with a string of short films to her name, and credits on such Sundance breakouts as Fruitvale Station, on which she was an associate producer. “She’s on an odyssey. It’s essentially a road movie, but in very particular circumstances, and she’s a girl becoming a woman among all these men but still kind of holding her own.”
Directed by: Haroula Rose
Written by: Bonnie Jo Campbell (book); Haroula Rose (screenplay)
Starring: Kenadi DelaCerna, John Ashton, Tatanka Means, Ajuawak Kapashesit, Lindsay Pulsipher, Sam Straley, etc.
About the Filmmaker
Haroula Rose is a filmmaker and musician from Chicago, now based in LA. She is currently shooting a documentary and developing her second fiction feature film as writer and director. Her debut Once Upon a River, was called “one of the most anticipated films of 2019” by Filmmaker Magazine, winning 14 awards at 25 festivals thus far. Her pilot Lost & Found had its world premiere at Tribeca, was mentioned by the New York Times as not to be missed, and won the Audience Award in Bentonville.
Rose’s work has been supported by a Fulbright Fellowship in Madrid, Nantucket Screenwriters Colony, WarnerMedia, Warner Brothers Directors Workshop, and Tribeca All Access. She received her BA and MA from the University of Chicago and attended USC’s MFA program. Rose’s other short films include As They Slept, Wedding Dress, No Love Song, and Baby Crazy. As a producer she’s worked on films such as Fruitvale Station, The Fear of Thirteen, Heaven Adores You, Saint Frances as well as many others.
Rose’s songs can be heard in many films, series, theater productions and commercials. She has toured internationally and released two LPs, two EPs, remixes, and compositions through Thirty Tigers in Nashville and Little Bliss Records.