SuAnne Big Crow: Film Documentary to profile Pine Ridge’s 'Hero in High Tops'

Lisa J. Ellwood

A member of the 1989 South Dakota championship team, Big Crow earned praise as the best girls' basketball player in SD

Most people love heroic tales, and for many Oglala Lakotas on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, the story of late Pine Ridge High School Lady Thorpe’s basketball icon SuAnne Big Crow, is still an important one.

In a new proposed documentary titled ‘SuAnne Big Crow, The Hero in High Tops’ award-winning independent filmmaker Kris Kaczor is set to explore her short life and lasting legacy as one of the best high school basketball players in history. Kaczor hopes to release the film next year after the high school basketball season.

“I'm a fan of hero stories because they have to ability to effect true social change,” Kaczor told ICT via email. “The hero in a community is a positive force, and in this case it's SuAnne.”

Kaczor first became aware of SuAnne Big Crow when reading about her in Ian Frazier’s 1999 book of his perceptions about Pine Ridge life, On The Rez.”

A member of the 1989 South Dakota championship team, Big Crow earned praise as the best girls' basketball player in the state -- scoring an average 39 points per game and 67 in a single record-setting game. It is the bitterest of ironies that she was traveling to accept a Miss Basketball Award when her promising life was cut short in a car accident during her senior year of high school in 1992.

The SuAnne Big Crow (former) Boys & Girls Club. The building aimed to meet the dreams of SuAnne Big Crow by providing area youth with a drug- and alcohol-free environment. The SuAnne Big Crow Boys and Girls Club was the first Boys and Girls Club to be built in Indian Country, and now struggles to remain solvent. Photo Courtesy: Photo Courtesy: Kris Kaczor

The SuAnne Big Crow (former) Boys & Girls Club. SuAnne’s Big Crow’s best friend Steve shoots hoops. He speaks of dreams he has where SuAnne comes to him. He feels it is her and not just a dream. Photo Courtesy: Kris Kaczor

Kaczor’s intention is to record SuAnne Big Crow’s story because her community has expressed great interest in it being made. “We discovered this from a preliminary shoot on Pine Ridge,” he explained. “We interviewed 20 people from all over the reservation and they all had stories about SuAnne's effect on them. I cut a trailer and it was well-received by the Native community and beyond.”

Courtesy: Kris Kaczor, 750 Productions

Currently in production, Kris Kaczor is seeking funds through Kickstarter until November 16th. Once finished, SUANNE BIG CROW will tell the tale of the legendary athlete from Pine Ridge who is a symbol of hope to many. All donations will go directly to the filming, editing, and a locally-hired, Native crew. The campaign is at: . Filming will run from November 2018 - March 2019. The scheduled release date is December of 2019.

“She provided hope because she was living hope,” SuAnne’s mother Chick Big Crow told Kaczor.

Pine Ridge High School. The Lady Thorpes Coach Laura Big Crow. Laura is SuAnne’s cousin. She was inspired by SuAnne to play basketball, became a unstoppable star herself, and is now coach of The Lady Thorpes. She’s not afraid to scream a drill and she never seems to miss a basket. The documentary will follow Laura and The Lady Thorpes on the road to rival, and perhaps racist courts, as the glory of another state championship guides the fiery Lakota team. Photo Courtesy: Kris Kaczor.
Pine Ridge High School. The Lady Thorpes is the spirited team that SuAnne played on. It is also the team that this film will follow for a season, both on and off the court. There’s talk of a new player possessing SuAnne’s skill and style. Coach Laura Big Crow, SuAnne’s cousin, drives the team to their limits, which she knows are high. Everybody’s looking for the next SuAnne. Photo Courtesy: Kris Kaczor

“I'm a broke indie-filmmaker from Brooklyn who is sincerely moved by SuAnne's story and want it to be documented. I presented myself openly with my intentions to people on Pine Ridge. The Lakotas we spoke to wanted us to tell the story, and agreed to interviews,” Kaczor told ICT.




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