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Very happy to announce that “Highway of Tears” is now available on Vimeo On Demand.

HIGHWAY OF TEARS from Matt Smiley on Vimeo.

Since the late 1960s, at least forty young women have disappeared along the “Highway of Tears” — a 500-mile, single-lane stretch of roadway in northern British Columbia. Shrouded in mystery until a recent Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) special investigation linked DNA from one of the vanished victims to a deceased American criminal, these cold cases reveal sweeping crimes: kidnapping, rape, torture, murder, and the disposal of human bodies.

Aboriginal communities have experienced the brunt of the brutality: dozens of their women have disappeared along the highway, victims of not only murderous predators, but of a pervasive, systemic racism that keeps them marginalized on impoverished reservations. First Nation leaders and activists contend there has been little interest in further investigating the crimes and in apprehending their killers.

Narrated by TV Star Nathan Fillion (“Castle,” CBS), Matthew Smiley’s award-winning documentary illustrates the personal stories of the victim’s families and explores how a legacy of generational poverty, high unemployment, and endemic violence in their communities continues to contribute to their tragic fate.

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“Blackfish” Social Commentary Graffiti Art by Michael Beerens

Over the last few years, documentary films have managed to pave their way into the mainstream movie audience. Some well crafted documentaries have presented their findings in a way that touches our hearts. These real stories are changing the way we see the world. Many of these documentaries are self-produced and completed without the aid of production companies or distributors, so the politics of censorship rarely come into play.

While editing “Highway of Tears”, I spent countless hours studying the works of documentary filmmakers in an attempt to pinpoint how they captured the attention of the world. One doc in particular managed to gain the following and momentum never seen before in modern documentary filmmaking: “Blackfish”. The film premiered at Sundance and was then picked up by CNN Films. Below is an example of the social impact a film can have to inspire people to stand up against injustices.

This is a great piece of graffiti art by Michael Beerens. I hope you enjoy it and reflect on how this work was inspired by “Blackfish”.