"West of Thunder" is a movie with a message and a purpose that has garnered support throughout the world. This interest has been for the movie itself and for the project that the movie will support...the creation of a K-12 Lakota Cambridge accredited school (Sunka Wakan) on Pine Ridge Reservation.
Pine Ridge is the poorest area in the United States with statistics of a third world country—80% unemployment, 70% school dropout rate, the highest teenage suicide rates, and average life expectancy of 47 years.
The creation of the Sunka Wakan school is a collaboration between the Lakota people of Pine Ridge reservation and an international team including the US, England, Israel, France and Hong Kong.
"West of Thunder" is a Lakota inspired western. Set in 1899, nine years after the Massacre at Wounded Knee and the formation of the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, the movie explores the possibility of revenge and the choice of a higher road.
An independent, small-budget, movie West of Thunder has attracted the assistance of Hollywood heavyweights including Michael Blake ("Dances with Wolves"), John Stanier ("Midnight Express", "Pink Floyd’s The Wall", "Life of Brian" and many others), actors Michael Worth (Acapulco H.E.A.T., "God’s Ears" "Dual"), Crispian Belfrage ("The Donner Party", Castle, "As Good As Dead", "Rushlights"), Dan Davies ("Ed Gein The Musical" & HBO's Funny or Die ), Raffaello Degrutolla ("Saving Private Ryan", "Quantum of Solace"), Sadie Kaye ("Sailing Miss Sadie", "Tucker's Luck" HBO's Funny or Die) and musicians/composers Ian Hatton (Bonham, "Rock Star"), Deni Bonet (Cyndi Lauper), Neville Farmer (Robert Plant, XTC, & BBC's Lonely Planet) and Sir Jonathan Douglas (RTHK's Morning Call & BBC Prime-Hong Kong)
This project is embraced as a catalyst for real change on Pine Ridge. The school, the first of its kind, will provide students with the highest level of academics with an immersion in Lakota culture, language and traditional values and will prepare students for future success in both worlds. Herds of rescued wild mustangs will also be a part of the project—with equine therapy and Lakota cultural programs.
West of Thunder was an official selection for the Toronto independent Film Festival where it received a standing ovation. Sunka Wakan benefit pre-premiere screenings were held in New York (Sept 10-16) and LA (Sept 21-27). West of Thunder and the Sunka Wakan Dragonfly Film Studios short documentary, Mitakuye Oyasin, have been honored with an invitation as the closing features at the Red Nation Film Festival in LA (November 2012). International premieres will take place in London, Paris, Israel and Hong Kong in Oct/Nov/Dec 2012.