Cass McCombs released his new album, Mangy Love, earlier this year, and he’s been amassing a collection of good music videos in support of it, including ones for “Medusa’s Outhouse,” “Opposite House,” and “Laughter Is The Best Medicine.” Today, he’s shared one for “Run Sister Run” that was directed by Rachael Pony Cassells and stars Tracie Léost, an Indigenous activist who went on a 115-kilometer run last year in an effort to raise awareness for the unsolved missing persons and murder cases of other young Indigenous women. For the video, she recreated parts of her run to be set to McCombs’ urgent song. Watch it and a making-of documentary via Vogue below, and read a statement from the director.
The video for Run Sister Run was made in collaboration with young Indigenous leader, activist and athlete Tracie Léost and her family. Run Sister Run brought to my mind thoughts of great female athletes ¬ their discipline, strength and accomplishment, the ritual of preparation before a race. Running can be a powerful political act and tool for change. I remember Australian Aboriginal runner Cathy Freeman’s 2000 Olympic win and victory lap carrying both the Australian and Aboriginal flag and how much impact that one run had (and the great controversy that ensued questioning her right to carry the Aboriginal flag at The Olympics which only recognized the Australian national flag.)
Listening to Run Sister Run, I remembered reading an article a friend had forwarded me about Tracie’s solo 115km Journey of Hope run for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women in Canada last year. Her run was a rally cry against then Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s repeated denial of a proposed public inquiry into MMIW in Canada. She was to me the embodiment of the archetype of the runner as messenger and therefore as protector. Her strength and determination is very inspiring. I remembered reading about Tracie’s feet being shredded from blisters on the first day of her run and how she kept going by running a day in traditional moccasins to allow her blisters to heal. I contacted her and asked if I she would re¬trace her run’s path for the Run Sister Run video. She agreed and is such a natural leader, she also became my location producer, enlisting her whole family to help. We filmed her from her mom’s truck with her mom driving. Her grandfather built a perfect rig to further steady my camera from hay bales and blankets and rode along in the car while we filmed. We stayed at her grandparents house for the first leg of filming, the Métis flag featured in the video was in their yard. Tracie’s father joined us for the Winnipeg leg of the filming so we had almost all of her original Journey of Hope support and logistics crew involved in helping me re¬create her journey for the video.
The history of women running in film contains so many images of women filmed from behind, running in fear filmed from the p.o.v of an attacker. It was important to me to not add to the visual history of women running in fear and only film Tracie running forward towards the camera looking forward, her body fearlessly re¬claiming public space.
Mangy Love is out now via Anti-.