Zoe Leigh Hopkins’s Run Woman Run is a thirty-something coming-of-ager about learning to love and care for yourself amidst a lot of trauma.
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On a shoestring budget, Zoe Leigh Hopkins has crafted a feel good film about learning to care for yourself in the wake of tragedy and trauma. Set in the Six Nations in Ontario, Beck (Dakota Ray Hebert) is a thirtysomething single mother who lives with her father and shares a bedroom with her pre-pubescent son, Eric (Sladen Peltier). When she gets diagnosed with diabetes, she has enormous trouble making lifestyle changes (taking medication, improving her diet, and starting to exercise) because she’s gotten so used to putting herself last, ever since her mother died by suicide, and there was her father (Lorne Cardinal), sister, and son to care for.
Fortunately, visits from an encouraging and amusing spirit of a champion Indigenous runner and Residential ‘School’ Survivor, Tom (Asivak Koostachin), help give her the support and confidence she needs to take care of herself — if not for herself, at first, then for the people she loves. Along the way, she finds the possibility for romance with the son of her father’s ex-girlfriend, Jon (Braeden Clarke), but it’s her son that keeps her going. This quarter-life coming-of-ager is warm and funny with a light touch, but you can also expect to bawl your eyes out if you’ve ever treated yourself with as little care as Beck does, and for good reason. Though the trauma of residential ‘schools’, language loss, and suicide are all in the backdrop of the film, they never overtake the film’s relatively light tone.
Run Woman Run is also a showcase for so many Indigenous creatives, marking Hebert as a star to watch, as well as Koostachin, who has been everywhere in Indigenous cinema from so-called Canada in the last year (Red Snow, Portraits from A Fire). It’s one of the year’s best, and will be distributed in Canada in 2022, but why wait? It’s a cozy film with a lot on its mind — perfect for the holidays at home.
The film screens digitally across Canada at the Whistler Film Festival until December 31.
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