Archives / 2008 Sundance Film Festival

Frozen River

Director: Courtney Hunt

Screenwriters: Courtney Hunt

Institute History

Description

Two days before Christmas in rural upstate New York, Ray Eddy’s husband has left her in an impossible situation—not only is he gone, but he has gambled away all of the family’s meager savings. Ray’s single wage at the Yankee One Dollar Store can’t make the house payment, and the situation forces Ray to feed her two sons popcorn and Tang everyday. When Ray strikes out to search for her husband, she encounters Lila Littlewolf, a tough, street-smart Mohawk woman who is dealing with her own struggle to make ends meet. But Lila has found a way to do it—smuggling illegal immigrants into the States. The tribal elders disapprove and attempt to stop Lila by forbidding anyone to sell her a car. Ray has a car, and although the two women don’t trust each other, they team up and share Ray’s Dodge Spirit to make a run across the frozen St. Lawrence River.

Courtney Hunt’s remarkable and deeply emotional first feature is a realistic look at the world of human smuggling and the difficult choices facing poor, single mothers. A wonderfully directed film full of atmosphere, heart, and outstanding performances by Melissa Leo and Misty Upham, Frozen River is ultimately about the strength that resides in family and the way hope in a dire situation can be uncovered by courage and trust.


(Archives note: see also Courtney Hunt's Meet The Artist interview on our YouTube Channel.)

— Shari Frilot

Screening Details

Sundance Film Festival Awards

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