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Directing Duo Alex and Andrew Smith Rely on Community to Create Winter in the Blood


Winter in the Blood
Winter in the Blood
Based on the first novel by Native American writer and poet James Welch, Winter in the Blood is about the hardscrabble life of a young Blackfoot man and his family in the isolation of the Montana high plains. Virgil First Raise (Chaske Spenser) embarks on an inebriated and darkly comic odyssey to retrieve his renegade wife – and the beloved rifle she stole, facing delusional demons while transcending raw childhood memories and traumas to move forward in his life and ultimately find himself.

Drawing on a strong sense of place and themes formed by their own personal family history, brothers Alex and Andrew Smith directed the formative story with a naturalistic touch and unwavering honesty. In this interview, they share their experiences creating the film with Below the Line.

In addition to crediting casting director Rene Haynes for helping to assemble the primarily Native American cast which includes Chaske Spenser (The Twilight Saga), Julia Jones (The Twilight Saga), Richard Ray Whitman (Four Sheets to the Wind), Casey Camp-Horinek (Geronimo) and Gary Farmer (Adaptation), they sing the praises of key crew collaborators such as cinematographer Paula Huidobro, production designer David Storm, and film editor Michael Hofacre. On a project that relied heavily on community involvement, they give shout outs to the students from the University of Montana and Native American interns from Longhouse Media that filled important roles in the production.

Winter in the Blood will screen at 1:10 p.m., Saturday, June 22 (99 min.) at the L.A. Film Festival.

Expanding on Below the Line’s popular Directors Series, senior writer/film editor, Mary Ann Skweres, and writer/cameraman, Bob Bayless, go behind the scenes at the L.A. Film Festival (June 13-23) to talk to directors about how their crew helped bring their films to the screen. Below the Line’s L.A. Film Fest Video Director Series is sponsored by Sony and Lightworks owned by EditShare, and produced in association with DreamStar Film & Music.

For a full schedule for the L.A. Film Festival screenings, visit

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