Frozen River Courtney Hunt

Frozen River Courtney Hunt
This low-budget tale about a white woman smuggling illegal aliens across a Mohawk reserve from Quebec into New York State was 2008's indie Cinderella story. Oscar-nominated Melissa Leo carries the film as Ray, a poor mother of two young kids whose gambler husband runs off with the down payment for their new trailer home. Desperate for money, Ray hooks up with Lila, a widowed Mohawk mother whose mother-in-law "stole" her newborn child. Together they drive through neutral Mohawk territory, across the frozen St. Lawrence with illegal migrants huddled inside the trunk of Ray's car. Because Ray is white, the cops don't suspect her. In the eyes of the law, Ray and Lila are criminals but to audiences they are dutiful mothers providing for their families. Never sentimental or melodramatic, Frozen Rover is a convincing drama about survival and sacrifice. It fully deserves its Oscar nomination for best original screenplay and seven noms at the Independent Spirit Awards. Writer/director Courtney Hunt and producer Heather Rae (a fixture on the Aboriginal American filmmaking scene) deliver a fine commentary that details the struggles of filming with a minimal cast and not enough money in sub-zero temperatures. The trailer park doesn't want to cooperate because they fear the movie will smear them. Where do you find Asian extras to play migrants in a small border town? What do you do when you can't afford a professionally trained pet dog to bark on command? In other words: indie filmmaking. The only shortcoming of this DVD lies in what's missing. Where is the short film that this film is based on? Hunt and Rae refer to it constantly in their commentary, and that without it they wouldn't have found the support to make this full-length feature. I would've preferred seeing that than the trailers of eight films that have nothing to do with Frozen River. (Sony)