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Voice of America Documentary on Native American Women Wins Top Prize at Loyola Feminist Film Festival

“The Lakota Daughters,” a documentary about the trials and triumphs of girls and women of the Oglala Lakota tribe on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, won the main jury prize at The Loyola Feminist Film Festival in New Orleans. New York-based VOA Russian service journalist, Victoria Kupchinetsky, wrote and directed the 33-minute film, shot by cinematographer Vladimir Badikov and produced by Joy Wagner, both also with VOA Russian.

Before the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the VOA team obtained rare access to the Pine Ridge Reservation to film and interview the women and girls of the Lakota Nation. Instead of using a narrator, the women present their very personal stories in their own voices. Poverty, drugs, alcohol, frequent disappearances of young women and limited law enforcement are all issues plaguing Pine Ridge. However, following strong matrilineal traditions of the Native American culture, women on the Reservation are working to create "a girl society" that fosters resilience and self-assurance in girls aged 10 to 18. The film shows the traditional and modern life of the Lakota tribe, including the tribe's efforts to empower future generations of girls and women.

“Congratulations to the VOA Russian team on this recognition for their moving and insightful documentary,” said Acting VOA Director Yolanda López. “This film offers a rare look into the Native American society and expands VOA’s efforts to more fully tell America’s story to our global audiences.”

The Loyola University Feminist Film Festival, now in its fourth year, seeks to empower women directors, editors, cinematographers and screenwriters and to celebrate the extraordinary triumphs centuries of feminists have achieved in the long pursuit of gender equity. The Festival hosts a virtual screening of the winning entries on April 20, 2021.