“It’s not about victimization, it’s about justice,” explained director Razelle Benally on her experience in working on a docuseries about the ongoing Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW) crisis.

“Murder in Big Horn” directors Benally and Matthew Galkin, joined National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center executive director Lucy Simpson and journalist Luella Brien, in the Variety Studio presented by Audible, to discuss their upcoming Showtime docuseries “Murder in Big Horn.” 

The three-part, series examines the epidemic of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW) and girls of the Crow and Northern Cheyenne Nations in Big Horn County, Montana. “Murder in Big Horn” is portrayed through the perspectives of Native families, Native journalists and local law enforcement. 

The docuseries approaches the MMIW crisis from the direction and perspective of a young Native woman, Benally, who has lived this reality her entire life. The director explains “With my own lived experience as a Native woman, as a Native girl, I’ve always known about this issue. The fear of going missing or being murdered or just disappearing. It’s been very real my entire life.” Benally continued, “We just wanted to bring that truth, that the fear is a reality.”

Lucy Simpson, executive director of the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center asserts the lack of due diligence and response to this epidemic “is certainly frustrating.” Simpson proceeds to explain how aside from the public’s requirement to raise awareness, the greater public must learn that the current reality of the MMIW crisis, “goes back to colonization, goes back to these federal policies that are still being put out there by Congress that provide for lack of law enforcement, lack of jurisdiction [and] ultimately, lack of justice for our community members.”

Following the docuseries premiere, Simpson outlines the next steps, “[the] ultimate goal is getting those policies changed, allowing Native people to advocate for themselves and to create their own laws and actually exercise their tribal sovereignty.”

“Murder in Big Horn” aims to honestly address “the invisibility of Native women and girls, Native people in general in this country,” and does so with the help of Native crew members, “in a way that allows Native representation and Native people are telling our stories,” said Simpson.

Benally is an Ogala Lakota/Diné MFA candidate in film production at NYU Tisch in her thesis year. She served as a Sundance Native Lab, Producers and Screenwriters Intensive fellow. Benally wrote AMC’s “Dark Winds” and is developing a directorial feature debut. Galkin directed Showtime’s “Murder on the Bayou,” HBO’s “Kevorkian,” HBO’s “I am an Animal: The Story of Ingrid Newkirk and PETA” and “loudQUIETloud: A Film About the Pixies.”

Benally, Ivan MacDonald and Ivy MacDonald produced “Murder in Big Horn.” Galkin and Vinnie Malhotra executively produced the docuseries with Lisa Kalikow and Joshua Levine as co-executive producers.

“Murder in Big Horn” is premiering all three episodes at Sundance in person Jan. 22 and online Jan. 24. The episodes will premiere on Showtime Feb. 5, Feb. 12 and Feb. 19, respectively.