We will survive. We have always survived. We’re Lakota. We will survive this as well.

--Alex White Plume

About Prairie Dust Films

Prairie Dust Films is a collaboration between Suree Towfighnia (Director) and Courtney Hermann (Producer). As Technical Coordinators of The Rabiger Center for Documentary at Columbia College Chicago, the pair of filmmakers fostered a culture and community supportive of the documentary form and its practitioners. Standing Silent Nation is an outgrowth of the filmmakers’ dedication to documentary and their strong belief in the importance and integrity of the White Plume family and their struggle.

Founded in 2002, our mission is to make films that present contemporary American issues in an entertaining way. We encourage our audiences to recognize the diversity within our culture and gain a greater understanding of the choices people make. Prairie Dust Films is inspired to record stories for future generations and unaware contemporaries. Through documentary we offer an alternative record of events with the ultimate goal of encouraging social change.

Our films have screened in festivals and on television and have received funding from PBS and private foundations. Aside from our film work, Prairie Dust Films mentors youth in the Lakota Media Project who create stories from their own perspectives. We offer master classes in shooting and storytelling for others interested crafting their ideas into a documentary.

About the Filmmakers


Courtney is an independent documentary filmmaker and educator from Portland, Oregon. She recently received the Outstanding Faculty Award at the Art Institute of Portland where she is an Instructor in the Digital Film and Video Department. Her most recent documentaries include Standing Silent Nation (2007), Left on Wild Road (a work-in-progress about the history of burlesque in the United States), and Granite Janet (which was nominated for the International Documentary Association’s David L. Wolper Award). She is former faculty in the film/video department and co-tech coordinator (with Suree) at the Rabiger Center for Documentary at Columbia College where she earned her MFA.


Suree is an independent filmmaker, director of photography, and freelance producer from Chicago, IL. Her documentary, Tampico (2006), winner of the Studs Terkel Award for Community Media, chronicles a woman’s struggle to survive through street performance in the subways of Chicago. Suree’s recent projects include Standing Silent Nation (2007), Caution:2001 (a documentary about the nation’s response to September 11th), and Clutter (a fiction short that explores the death of a relationship). Suree educates youth as part of Project AIM in the Chicago Public Schools (Center for Community Arts Partnership) and on the Pine Ridge Reservation (Lakota Media Project) and teaches master classes in documentary shooting and storytelling.


Sharon has edited documentaries for over thirty years. Among her award-winning films are the Emmy-nominated Silent Pioneers, Chicago Film Festival Silver Hugo Winner The Chicago Maternity Center Story, and Return of Navajo Boy, a Sundance Film Festival official selection. Her most recent projects include The Innocent, winner of the Crystal Heart Award for documentary feature, about people wrongly sentenced to death, and Burnt Oranges, winner of the Cine Golden Eagle Award, about state terrorism in Argentina during the 1970's. Sharon is the owner of Media Monster in Chicago, IL, which provides full-service production and editing services.


Debra is an American Indian Movement (AIM) activist and an independent consultant for the reorganization of federally funded programs on the Pine Ridge Reservation.  As Executive Director of Owe Aku (Bring Back the Way), a non-profit environmental organization, Debra fights to protect Native resources and provides conservation training for youth.  She facilitates the Lakota Media Project collaboration with Prairie Dust Films. Debra is a delegate for the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. 

Kerribeth Elliott, UPM and Post-Production Coordinator

Kerribeth is currently on staff at Clark-Vancouver Television and the Oregon Convention Center. Formerly on staff at Video Kitchen, a full-service production house in Louisville, KY, and a graduate of Columbia College Chicago’s Film and Video program, Kerribeth is also a freelance video producer out of Portland, OR. She has been working with Prairie Dust Films since the inception of Standing Silent Nation. Visit her website at: www.gonzopj.net/elliott/