TW: drugs, violence, body horror, death
On my exchange in Canada, I’ve learned a lot about how Indigenous women are disproportionately affected by violence; while you constantly hear from the state of Canada about their efforts of reconciliation and reparation, the frequent disappearances of Indigenous women continue to be overlooked. Part of the Glasgow Film Festival this year is a film that focuses on this very topic. Written in collaboration by director Josef Kubota Wladyka and real-life boxer Kali Reis, the thriller Catch the Fair One tells the story of Kaylee, an Indigenous boxer who embarks on a mission to find and rescue her missing younger sister Weeta (Mainaku Borrero). Diving into the world of human trafficking, Kaylee encounters manipulative figures who create an illusion of friendliness and comfort whilst selling women to prostitution – it’s guaranteed to make you uncomfortable from the get-go.
On the whole, it’s certainly an entertaining thriller. Set against a background of dark gloomy towns, forests and isolated warehouses, Kaylee’s carefully crafted plan soon falls apart and her mission turns into a string of violence, blood and improvisation. The dark blue and black hues generate a chilling and menacing atmosphere, and you very quickly begin to wish she had brought back-up. While you can see Kaylee afraid and doubtful, she persists – and you can’t help but to admire her courage and determination.
The film focuses on Kaylee and her own family, but what she soon discovers sheds light on the grand scale on which human trafficking is practiced and the wealth of those behind these projects. It asks an important question: If Weeta has been missing for two years whilst Kaylee can easily locate those responsible for her trafficking, why hasn’t the police found her yet? Really, the answer is straightforward: “Nobody’s looking because nobody cares.” The American and Canadian settler-states have a long track record for dismissing Indigenous women as unimportant. The thriller’s ultimate conclusion is harrowing, yet deeply reflective of the crude reality, which is that most often missing Indigenous women and their families never obtain the justice they deserve.
The collective effect that these disappearances and murders of Indigenous women have on their families and communities takes centre-stage at the start of the film, as Kaylee’s mother Jaya (Kimberly Guerrero) hosts a support group for those with missing family members. Meanwhile, the relationship between Kaylee and Jaya themselves has been complicated by Weeta’s disappearance and the two cannot find comfort in each other. Kaylee herself is in recovery from drug addiction and resides in a communal shelter. This is the reality for many, as Indigenous women and girls are disproportionately affected by poverty following a series of harmful laws that continue to justify the displacement of Indigenous people from their homelands. Believe it or not, colonialism is an ongoing phenomenon. This film will remind you of that fact with a brutally honest and important depiction of the sorrows that follow.
[Kristiina Kangasluoma – she/her]
[Photo credit: filmaffinity UK]