Ledes from the Land of Enchantment

NM set film about missing and murdered indigenous women premieres at the Las Cruces film festival

“I was lucky enough to have my real sister play this role,” said Persinger. “So I felt that personal connection even more of having my real sister as my sister in the film, looking for her throughout the film and it leads to a lot of crazy things that I go through.”

It’s a story sadly so many know too well, including those who starred in the film.

“My mother went missing for about four months when I was 11,” recalled Ernie Stevens Jr., chairman of the National Indian Gaming Association. “She came back to us and I remember the day. I watched her get out and see my mother again, it was just such a beautiful day and my mother stayed in my life. She got me through a lot.”

“When my daughter was around 16 or 18 years old, some guy off the street in Lincoln, NE, grabbed her and put her in the back of his truck,” recalls director Ricky Lee. “Fortunately, she got used to her wits and brains and escaped unscathed.”

“I grew up with the ridiculous amount of abuse that happened to women – including my mother,” said cinematographer Orlando Skidmore. “My aunt was also murdered by her husband when I was a baby.”

Together they raise awareness about missing and murdered indigenous women by bringing this story to the big screen.

“It’s a mostly local crew and cast,” Lee said. “I think what we did with our prayers in the morning is on screen because there were moments when I was directing and filming Orlando and playing Sapphire where we were all crying.”

“We smeared the set with sage in the morning before we started shooting and offered our thanks and prayers – and that doesn’t happen on other sets,” said Skidmore.

They hope that more will be done to protect this community as more people see Whispers in the Wind.

“Women are so, so powerful and influential,” said Stevens Jr. “If they are lost, we are lost.”

“This whole epidemic – this national crisis – is really long overdue,” said Persinger.

The film will also be available for streaming.

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