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Lakota legacy: ‘On a Knife Edge’ explores growing up on Pine Ridge Reservation

Eli Cane has been on the road for a couple months.

He’s traveling the country with his documentary “On a Knife Edge.”

About a month ago, the film screened at the Santa Fe Independent Film Festival. It has also screened in New York City and San Francisco.

Currently, it is available to watch online at as part of the “America Reframed” series.

“Screening the film in Santa Fe as part of the festival gave us another group of viewers to reach,” Cane says. “Being there and hearing from the audience and their concerns sparked a lot of new conversation.”

“On a Knife Edge” is a father-son story about Guy and George Dull Knife that unfolds over the course of George’s coming-of-age journey.

Under his father’s guidance, George becomes an activist and organizer, and begins identifying with the role of traditional Lakota warrior, which he views as his family legacy.

He commits himself to the fight for social justice, but struggles with adapting the old ways and his father’s expectations to the modern-day realities of growing up on the Pine Ridge Reservation.

Cane says the documentary is told through George Dull Knife’s eyes and it offers a glimpse into the youngest generation of the American Indian Movement.

Cane is the producer of the film and owner of Normal Life Pictures, which put out the film.

He worked with director Jeremy Williams since about 2012.

“We sort of filmed during 2012 and 2015,” he says. “All of the footage we got was done in an episodic way.”

Cane says that as the documentary is rolled out, there’s a sense of completion.

“It’s an incredible feeling,” he says. “There’s a feeling of accomplishment. There’s also a great feeling of getting the story out to the world.”

After seven years of working on the documentary, Cane is excited to move on to a different aspect of the project.

“Now is the time where the work begins,” he says. “Our goal is to get as many eyes on the documentary. We’re excited to have PBS involved on this film to get the word out to a bigger audience. It feels great to move onto another aspect of this film. It’s become a big part of my life.”

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