Skip to main content

'Epic, brutal' documentary about Native American gang life in MN premieres

  • Author:
  • Updated:

A documentary that premiered this week at the Berlin Film Festival paints an intimate portrait of Native American gang life in rural Minnesota.

"The Seventh Fire" focuses on two Ojibwe community members of Pine Point, a town on the White Earth Reservation – one is in the waning stages of his criminal career, the other hoping to climb a few more rungs to reach the top.

This embed is invalid

The elder is Rob Brown, a "gang kingpin" who is now in his 30s and about to head to prison for the fifth time, Red Power Media writes. But he has a sense of remorse, regretting how his actions affected his community.

Then there's 17-year-old Kevin Fineday, described as Brown's protege. His goal? To succeed Brown as the man at the top, becoming the biggest drug-dealer on the reservation.

Screen Daily reports director Jack Pettibone Riccobono spent 2 1/2 years filming there, including giving some locals pocket cameras to shoot with as well.

“When I did the short, I didn’t take my camera out for the first three days," he said. "You are just there as a human being. That’s the only way to build up trust.”

He was familiar with the area. In 2007 he released a short film called "The Sacred Food" which was filmed on the same reservation.

This embed is invalid

There's some real Hollywood power behind the production. It's "presented" by acclaimed director Terrence Malick, and produced by actress Natalie Portman.

"I had the great honor of working with Terry a few years ago, and when I saw the film, I told Jack I’d love to share this with him," Portman told The Hollywood Reporter. "[Malick’s] generosity with fostering young talents is unparalleled, and he said he loved the film and would do whatever he could to help it."

Said Riccobono so Screen Daily: “These are American issues, not just Native American issues. “

The early reviews?

While critics frequently offer their take on festival films, there appear to only be a couple of reviews for "The Seventh Fire."

The Hollywood Reporter says it starts slow, but is ultimately a "fascinating and important" documentary.

Over at The Upcoming, it's described as "an epic, brutal and challenging watch," and notes the film gives the American Indian community "a chance to express themselves" – an opportunity they are rarely afforded on the big screen.

There are currently no specific release plans outlined.

Next Up

Image (1)

School bus carrying students plunges into river southwest of Fargo

None of the kids suffered life-threatening injuries, though some were taken to area hospitals.

Richfield High School

Richfield High School cancels weekend events after shooting

Two men were shot outside the school's football stadium

Screen Shot 2022-09-23 at 10.21.38 PM

Sound of shots, mass panic at Richfield football game streamed live on YouTube

Gunfire caused panic at a varsity football game Friday night.

J. Gordon

K-9 search leads to $36K fentanyl seizure during traffic stop

A traffic stop was made after the vehicle was seen speeding through the area.

Screen Shot 2022-09-23 at 5.20.08 PM

Gov. Walz reacts to Tuesday death of Mankato West student

The governor is a former geography teacher at the high school.

court room

Teen pleads guilty to Minneapolis carjacking, admits to others

The man was yanked out of the vehicle by witnesses before fleeing the scene.

Federal court house

Three plead guilty to roles in murder on Red Lake Reservation

The 2019 murder left another person seriously injured.


Sheriff: Heifer shot and butchered on farmer's pasture near Aitkin

Anyone with information regarding the incident is encouraged to call the Clearwater County Sheriff's Office.


Minneapolis murder suspect arrested in Wisconsin

The man has been wanted by police since the shooting happened in April.

police lights squad car dark - Unsplash

Charges: Man kidnapped woman at gunpoint, forced her to withdraw $1,500

The 56-year-old suspect is accused of forcing the woman to the Seward neighborhood in Minneapolis.

police lights

Police arrest suspect in Oakdale after 10-hour standoff

The standoff with police lasted over 10 hours Friday.