Kino Lorber Takes North American Rights to WITB

Posted on August 22, 2014

NEW YORK, NY (JULY 28, 2014) – Kino Lorber announced today that the company is acquiring North American rights to WINTER IN THE BLOOD, from directors Alex Smith and Andrew Smith (THE SLAUGHTER RULE).  The film, which is based on the landmark novel by James Welch, features Chaske Spencer (TWILIGHT SAGA), David Morse (THE HURT LOCKER, WORLD WAR Z), and Julia Jones (TWILIGHT SAGA). The film had its World Premiere in Narrative Competition at the Los Angeles Film Festival and has won several awards and played at over thirty film festivals.


WINTER IN THE BLOOD will open theatrically at IFC Center, New York on August 20th with filmmakers and key cast members in attendance. Los Angeles screenings and additional markets will follow in September.


WINTER IN THE BLOOD follows Virgil First Raise (Chaske Spencer) who wakes in a ditch on the Northern plains of Montana, hung-over and badly beaten. He returns to his ranch on the reservation, only to find that his wife, Agnes, (Julia Jones) has left him. Worse, she’s taken his beloved rifle. Virgil sets out to town find her, beginning a hi-line odyssey of inebriated and possibly imagined intrigues in town with the mysterious ‘Airplane Man’, (David Morse) a beautiful barmaid (Dana Wheeler-Nicholson), and two dangerous Men in Suits. Are they real? Or spirits tricking him from his true path? Virgil’s quest brings him face-to-face with childhood memories of his beloved, lost brother Mose.


WINTER IN THE BLOOD authentically portrays the lost world of the “true West” with its sweeping shots of untouched prairie, remote towns and mountain terrain. The film unfolds like a poem, capturing the novel’s dreamscape of memory, trauma and motion with breathtaking cinematography and design.


“The novel Winter in the Blood is a true classic – unique, universal, timeless, and uncompromising,” said co-director Alex Smith, “It touches people in a profound, life-changing way because it is a story of survival and recovery. Our desire has always been to expose this unflinching, hilarious, ferocious story to a worldwide audience in the collective dream-house of cinema.”


WINTER IN THE BLOOD was shot entirely in Montana on locations closely associated with Welch and is adapted for film by Alex and Andrew Smith, who knew the author, and Ken White. This is the Smith brothers’ second film collaboration as writer/directors and second time working with David Morse, following 2002’s award-winning THE SLAUGHTER RULE, starring Ryan Gosling, Clea Duvall, and Amy Adams.


WINTER IN THE BLOOD features a score composed by renowned Austin band, HEARTLESS BASTARDS and new songs by ROBERT PLANT, BLACK PRAIRIE, COWBOY AND INDIAN, CASS MCCOMBS and several other artists.
WINTER IN THE BLOOD is a Ranchwater Films Production, in association with Kitefliers Studios. Producers include Susan Kirr, noted Native American author Sherman Alexie, Heather Rae, Jason Miller, Shawn Paonessa, Neil Gobioff and Peter Wiley. The cast is comprised of Chaske Spencer (TWILIGHT SAGA), David Morse (THE HURT LOCKER), Julia Jones (TWILIGHT SAGA), Dana Wheeler-Nicholson (FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS), Gary Farmer (SMOKE SIGNALS), Saginaw Grant (THE LONE RANGER) and newcomer Lily Gladstone.

The deal for the film was negotiated by Susan Kirr, Alex Smith and Andrew Smith of Ranchwater Films and Elizabeth Sheldon, Senior Vice-President of Kino Lorber.


[ADD IFC/PRESS SCREENING DETAILS} The IFC CENTER screenings will run from August 20th – 28th. Filmmakers Alex and Andrew Smith, as well as lead actors Chaske Spencer, Julia Jones will be in attendance at the screenings on the 20th and 21st. A press screening will be held at the IFC CENTER on ___ at 10:30 am. For more info on the IFC CENTER go to:


Press Contact

Morgan Ressa


IFC Screenings!

Posted on

Opens Wednesday, August 20

Directors Alex Smith & Andrew J. Smith, plus cast members Chaske Spencer, Julia Jones, Dana Wheeler-Nicholson and David Cale in person for Q&As Wed Aug 20 & Thu Aug 21 after the 8:20 show!

This lyrical adaptation of James Welch’s acclaimed novel centers on Virgil First Raise, who wakes up one day in a ditch on the hardscrabble plains of Montana, hungover and badly beaten. Returning home to his ranch on the reservation, he finds his wife has left him—and taken his beloved rifle. Virgil sets out to town to find them, beginning a hi-line odyssey of inebriated, and possibly imagined, intrigues.

“This hand-crafted film is beautifully made—photographed, scored and edited with a grubby lyricism.” – Hollywood Reporter

Click here to hear a story on WINTER IN THE BLOOD from NPR’s Morning Edition.

NR, 105 Minutes

Exclusive Clip on Indiewire!

Posted on June 13, 2013

LA Film Fest Official Selection!

Posted on May 20, 2013

The Los Angeles Film Festival announced “Winter in the Blood” is one of a dozen feature films it has selected to compete in the festival’s Narrative Competition next month.

The narrative and documentary categories are the festival’s most prestigious competitions, and carry $15,000 prizes for the winners.

The festival attracts more than 90,000 filmgoers annually.

Also known as the LA Film Fest, the 11-day event starts June 13 this year.

“Winter in the Blood” will have its world premiere on June 14, and be screened again on June 19. In addition to the Narrative Competition, it is eligible for the Audience Award for Best Narrative Film.

Last year’s Audience Award winner was “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” which went on to earn four Academy Award nominations, including one for Best Picture.

Fewer than 200 feature films, shorts, documentaries and music videos are screened during the festival, chosen from 5,428 that were submitted this year.

“The Way, Way Back,” starring Steve Carell, Toni Collette and Allison Janney, was announced Tuesday as the Closing Night film for 2013.

Also headlining the festival are “Only God Forgives” with Ryan Gosling and “Fruitvale Station,” both named as the festival’s Gala screenings.

“Winter in the Blood” will compete with 11 other films “made by talented emerging filmmakers” in the Narrative Competition, the festival announced. Eight of them are making their world premieres in Los Angeles.

The other 11 are “All Together Now,” “Forey,” “Forty Years from Yesterday,” “Four Dogs,” “Goodbye World,” “The House that Jack Built,” “I.D.,” “Mother, I Love You,” “My Sister’s Quinceanera,” “Pollywogs” and “Workers.”

Screening information:

World Premiere screening schedule is as follows:

Fri, Jun 14th 7:30pm
Regal Cinemas 10 / $13.00

Wed, Jun 19th 7:00pm
Regal Cinemas 12 / $13.00

General admission sales begin on May 21!

The official LA Film Fest Winter in the Blood event page

LA Film Fest announcement in the Missoulian

Meet the characters of Winter in the Blood

Posted on October 29, 2012

From Virgil First Raise to Lame Bull, explore their worlds in our informative character and actor profiles.

A Tribute to Jim Welch

Posted on

James Welch was born in Browning, Montana, in 1940 and was raised on the Blackfeet and Fort Belknap reservations. His father was Blackfeet, his mother Gros Ventre, each having Irish ancestors. In the mid 1960’s, the family settled in Harlem, Montana, just off the reservation.

From an early age, Welch dreamed of becoming a writer. He received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Montana and continued his study of creative writing in the university’s MFA program. Welch married Lois Monk, a professor of English and comparative literature in 1968.

His first book of poetry, Riding the Earthboy 40, was published in 1971. In addition to Winter in the Blood and The Death of Jim Loney, Welch also wrote the award-winning novels: Fools Crow, The Indian Lawyer, and The Heartsong of Charging Elk.

In addition to his published work, workshops and conferences, Welch taught at both the University of Washington and Cornell University. He was awarded a Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French government in 1995. Welch died of lung cancer in 2003 at his home in Missoula.


Purchase the novel, Winter in the Blood at one of these independent bookstores:

Shakespeare & Company
Fact & Fiction

Here’s how his publisher, PENGUIN CLASSICS, describes the novel:

During his life, James Welch came to be regarded as a master of American prose, and his first novel, Winter in the Blood, is one of his most enduring works. The narrator of this beautiful, often disquieting novel is a young Native American man living on the Fort Belknap Reservation in Montana. Sensitive and self-destructive, he searches for something that will bind him to the lands of his ancestors but is haunted by personal tragedy, the dissolution of his once proud heritage, and Montana’s vast emptiness. Winter in the Blood is an evocative and unforgettable work of literature that will continue to move and inspire anyone who encounters it.


Research in Winter

Posted on October 3, 2011

This post is originally from our friend, Jeri Rafter, over at

I just wanted to share some of the behind-the-scenes research that was done for the costume department. This was probably my favorite part of the whole process. I loved seeing these photos come to life on-screen thanks to the wonderfully talented Kristen Burke! Authenticity was really important for this film and getting photos from the area and from the time-period was essential in order for us to gather the build the best costumes that we could. (With mucho effort by the glorious Anthony Tran) If I could make a living out of just pulling photos for costume and production design, I would! They are all from Sean Chandler, a tribal artist and professor at Ft. Belknap college. Some of them are of his family and others are from albums that people have brought into him. A lot of them come from a series of albums that someone found in an abandoned office and did not want to throw away. I think it’s interesting that when we were looking for photos of Gros Ventre and Assiniboine people from the 50′s and 70′s there wasn’t a whole lot of ‘historical’ photos out there. It seems like only the old Indian photos have really been preserved, but saving and storing these more contemporary photos is just as important.

I hope you enjoy these as much as I do.

Toss Your Head Back.


The Parents.



Lonely Boy.

The Glasses.

Gary Farmer Inspiration

Ft. Belknap Council 1956

The Chandler Family.

Blue Coat.

Cool Uncle.

Big Horse.

Young Friends.

Having a smoke.

Three Hard Men.


Old Friends.

Meet the Longhouse Media Interns!

Posted on September 14, 2011

The Crew

Posted on September 2, 2011

A Letter From Set

Posted on August 29, 2011

Northern Montana has always been full of surprises for me.

I reported on the Montana Hi-Line for about three years as a reporter for the Great Falls Tribune. The topics varied – weather catastrophes, summer festivals, soldier send-offs or homecomings, homicides. People make stories and from Browning to Malta, northern Montana was always character rich.

I didn’t expect that my first time on a film set would take place here but I’m glad it did. At first glance, Havre and Chinook may not seem to be more than typical small towns but there are pockets of serene landscapes, charming bars and people always willing to help. I’m discovering new and interesting places, despite having worked here for years. I couldn’t imagine this story being brought to life in a place other than northern Montana.

Surprised is one way to describe my time working behind the scenes for ‘Winter in the Blood.’ Overwhelmed would be another. I’m learning that there is so much work needed to shoot just one scene, even if it amounts to a few seconds of footage. I’m just trying to contribute as much as I can in the props and set dressing departments. I now know how exhausting set and prop continuity can be!

Probably my favorite surprise is getting to know the Native actors on set. Casey Camp-Horinek and Richard Ray Whitman have provided some much-needed laughs and wisdom between scenes. Despite being so busy, Chaske Spencer remains generous and willing to joke around. Meeting them has made me realize just how great they are as people. That is something I’ll never forget.

Travis Coleman (Ponca)
Longhouse Media Intern
Winter in the Blood

People of the Hi-Line

Posted on August 24, 2011

Production Blog #1

Posted on August 15, 2011