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River Bank (Pō-Kehgeh)

“River Bank (Pō-Kehgeh)”
Logline: When a Tewa woman is mesmerized by a world of money, she must listen to the spirit of the River in order to free herself. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Synopsis: A Tewa woman struggles with guilt after stealing money from a local business. Her grandmother takes her to the River to remind her of Tewa values. The Tewa woman blesses herself with River water, and the River becomes her guide. Together, they give to the people.
I come from six generations of San Ildefonso Pueblo pottery artists. My Pueblo’s traditional Tewa name is Po-woh-geh Owingeh, which means “Where the water cuts through.” Our reservation is located in northern New Mexico. When my family works with clay, we think good thoughts so that our pottery reflects goodness, too. I practice this intention from a storytelling perspective. A quote we often say in my family, “We come from the clay and the earth, and we will return to the clay and the earth,” reflects the respect we have for clay, our ancestors, and the circle of life. Pottery often appears in my films, including River Bank (Pō-Kehgeh). I wrote and directed River Bank (Pō-Kehgeh) after the sudden passing of my younger brother, Tyler. He was 19 years old and serving in the military. His death was one of the most devastating things I’ve ever experienced. During those early moments of grief, I leaned into the traditions of my Tewa people. One place where I can express my grief openly is the Rio Grande, whose waters cut through San Ildefonso Pueblo. When we greet the river, we bless ourselves with the river water. The protagonist of my film, Tisha, also struggles with grief and guilt, but she finds a way to give back to her community by embracing her Tewa values. River Bank (Pō-Kehgeh) is about my love for my Tewa people and my wish for us to heal as a community from intergenerational grief. In the film, Tisha blesses herself with the River water, and the River becomes her guide. Together, they give to the Tewa people. River Bank (Pō-Kehgeh) is the first narrative fiction film approved by San Ildefonso Pueblo to be filmed on Tribal lands since the 1980’s. I made this film in hopes of inspiring more storytellers from my Pueblo. River Bank (Pō-Kehgeh) is told using an Indigenous story structure, inspired by traditional Tewa stories. I’m so grateful to have support from my family and community. This film would not exist without them. I dedicate this film to my younger brother, Tyler, because his memory lives in my heart forever. He is now home with the clay and the earth, and I miss him tremendously, but I know he is proud of me. One day, I will return to the clay and the earth, too. River Bank (Pō-Kehgeh) is my debut narrative fiction short film, and I’m so proud of how much this film and I have grown together.
13 Minutes
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Charine Pilar Gonzales


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