With a slew of box-office hits—including The Terminator, Aliens, The Incredible Hulk and the The Walking Dead—Gale Anne Hurd is waiting for her latest project, Mankiller, based on the life of Wilma Mankiller, to hit the circuit.
As described on the Valhalla Entertainment company website, CEO and Executive Producer Gale Anne Hurd crowdfunded Mankiller, which is her third Native American documentary. The film, directed by Valerie Red-Horse Mohl (Cherokee), examines the life of the first woman Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation, Wilma Mankiller.
On Monday, June 19 at the Los Angeles Film Festival at the Culver City ArcLight Cinemas, Mankiller will be making its debut with Gale Anne Hurd, Valerie Red-Horse Mohl and family members of Wilma Mankiller in attendance.
Mankiller will also screen in select film festivals and will be broadcast nationally on PBS.
In an interview with Gale Anne Hurd, she described for ICMN the process of working as an executive producer on Mankiller and why she decided to make the leap from zombies, aliens, and terminators to focus on the life of Native woman warrior, Wilma Mankiller.
It is no secret you have been the producer of the wildly successful The Walking Dead, The Terminator trilogy and Aliens. Why the interesting shift to Mankiller?
I’ve always, from the very beginning of my career with The Terminator, been interested in telling stories about powerful women, especially those from ordinary, everyday backgrounds. For example in The Terminator, when we meet the character of Sarah Connor, she’s working as a waitress in a coffee shop, never imagining that she would hold the fate of the world in her hands. In real life, Wilma Mankiller transformed herself from a woman of humble origins to become the first woman elected Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation.
How did you first become involved with Mankiller?
Valerie [Red-Horse Mohl] called me. I thought about it and at the time we discussed it there had been a lot of subject matter on Native men. We said, Shouldn’t we now shine the light on a Native woman?
This might seem like an ‘out there’ question, but astrologically, we are in alignment with Venus, thus anything related to Women Warriors is bound to be successful right now. Thoughts?
Wow, that’s great to know! (laughs) I guess we are bound for success. I always keep aware when it’s Mercury Retrograde, so this is relevant. I saw Wonder Woman last weekend and Patty Jenkins (the director) did a great job of conveying that the message is love. We can’t be in a state of war.
I think Wilma Mankiller approached things this way as well. I am profoundly affected by her words when she said, “In an Iroquois Society, leaders are encouraged to remember seven generations in the past and consider seven generations in the future when making decisions that affect the people.”
How does it feel to see this project come to fruition?
We are very excited. We sold out 12 days early [at the LA Film Festival.] We believe there is a desire to see these stories and the need for culturally relevant stories to be told. When people say there is no interest in culturally specific festivals, they are wrong.
We need to empower Native American artists like Ben Pease, who designed our film poster. Also, Charlie Soap and Wilma’s daughter, Gina Olaya, will be in attendance at the premiere and will be a part of the Q&A. That’s pretty special and we are looking forward to that.
What are your overall thoughts about Wilma Mankiller as a strong force for women leaders in our world?
Wilma Mankiller’s values and achievements are part of an incredible legacy for both women and men. She was an amazing servant in the position of leadership with a great set of ambitious goals. The world could learn a lot from her right now.
Mankiller will be premiering at the LA Film Festival on Monday, June 19, 6:15PM, at the ArcLight Cinemas in Culver City.
A Q&A with the filmmakers and Wilma Mankiller’s family will take place immediately following the screening.
For more information about the LA Film Festival visit https://www.filmindependent.org/la-film-festival/about/
For more information about the Mankiller documentary visit http://www.mankillerdoc.com
You can also follow @MankillerDoc on Twitter and Gale Anne Hurd on Twitter at @GunnerGale.
Follow Vincent Schilling (Akwesasne Mohawk) – ICMN’s Arts and Entertainment, Pow Wows and Sports Editor