Original Release: January 20, 2005 (Sundance Film Festival) (US)
Directed by: Heather Rae
Written by: Russell Friedenberg
Produced by: Elyse Katz, Heather Rae, Angelina Jolie, James Haven, Marcheline Bertrand
Running Time: 80 minutes
Box Office: $21,844 (US)

Trudell is a 2005 documentary film about legendary Native American activist and poet John Trudell. The film traces Trudell's life from his childhood in Omaha, Nebraska, through his role as a leader of the American Indian Movement. It also covers his rebirth as a musician and spoken word poet after his wife died in a house fire suspected as arson.

Heather Rae produced and directed the film, which took her more than a decade to complete. Trudell aired nationally in the U.S. on April 11, 2006 as part of the Independent Lens series on PBS.


John Trudell, Robert Redford, Kris Kristofferson, Sam Shepard, Amy Ray, Val Kilmer, Jackson Browne, Darelle 'Dino' Butler, Wilma Mankiller, Bonnie Raitt

  • Angelina Jolie was an executive producer as swell as her brother James Haven and mother Marcheline Bertrand.
  • It was the last project that Marcheline Bertrand worked on.
  • John Trudell was Marcheline Bertrand's partner until her passing in 2007. Beside working on this documentary together they also worked on and founded several other causes. They founded "All Tribes Foundation", to support the cultural and economic survival of Native peoples. They also produced a benefit concert for Afghan women refugees in conjunction with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in 2003.
  • Angelina Jolie also produced John Trudell's album "Bone Days" in 2001, read more here.

Quotes from Cast & Crew

“Some people call me a poet. Others say I’m an activist. Some say my poetry and music is political. Others say it’s about the spirit of my people. I don’t buy into any of those labels. I may be a little bit of all those things, but I’m more than any of them. We all are. That’s what makes us human."
- John Trudell

"It has been, literally, the most blood thirsty, brutalizing system ever imposed on this planet. That is not civilization. That's the great lie - is that it represents civilization. That's the great lie. Or if it does represent civilization, and that's truly what civilization is, then the great lie is that civilization is good for us."
- John Trudell

"Crazy horse, we hear what you say. One earth, one mother, one does not sell the earth that people walk upon. We are the land, how do we sell our mother? How do we sell the star? How do we sell the air? Crazy horse, we hear what you say. The spirit of life is almost non-existent in the perceptual reality of the society that we're in. It is almost non-existent. They got religion, they got civilization, they got military, they have politics, they have education, they have all the stuff, but they don't have the spirit to live."
- John Trudell

Awards & Nominations

American Indian Film Festival - Best Feature Documenatary
Seattle International Film Festival - Documentary Special Jury Award - Heather Rae
Sundance Film Festival - Grand Jury Prize Documentary - Heather Rae

Full documentary