Private Project

And Now We Rise: A Portrait of Samuel Johns

The story of Sam Johns, rising Alaska Native activist and hip hop artist who is using social media and the re-introduction of culture to impact the homeless population in Alaska.

  • Mary Katzke
    About Face; Survive and Thrive; Speaking from the Heart; In a Nanosecond
  • Samuel Johns
    Key Cast
  • Todd Hardesty
  • Brian Satterwhite
  • Nara Garber
  • Project Type:
  • Genres:
    documentary, biography
  • Runtime:
    56 minutes 40 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    August 1, 2018
  • Production Budget:
    180,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • Anchorage International Film Festival

    April 29, 2019
    3rd place best film
Director Biography - Mary Katzke

B.S. in Radio-Television-Film, University of Texas at Austin
M.F.A. in Film, Tisch School of the Arts Graduate Film School, New York University

Work History:
Freelance Producer, Director and Writer primarily for nonprofit organization
Affinityfilms, Inc. with support from: VisionMaker Media; A&E IndieFilms, Lifetime
Television for Women, Paraview Productions, Chicken and Egg Pictures, The Fledgling
Fund, Rasmuson Foundation, Bristol Bay Native Corporation, United Way/Best
Beginnings, and ABC, and many local commissions. !982- present.

Lead for the Alaska TV Pilot Project, a state-granted initiative in 2012.

Adjunct Professor at UAA- PreViz Class, 2015

Documentary Filmography:

2017: Partners in Healing: a beginner’s guide to integrative medicine

2017: In a Nanosecond: brain injury awareness

2017: Unforgettable: (a work in progress) about Alaska natives rising up from historical trauma

2016: Fourteen: the fourth film in the Alaska Kids Series (Two by Two, More at Four, Tricks at Six)

2015: Speaking from the Heart: documentary short about Ramond Severence, artist who experiences a disability, Winner Best Documentary Short, Silicon Valley Film Festival 2015

2014: Backing Out of Time: one hour documentary about five family caregivers helping parents face Alzheimer’s filmed over 3 1/2 years.

2013: World School: one hour personal documentary, a year of global travel with son.

2012: Her Story: promotional video for Alaska Girl Scouts; Loving Keiton: Arc of Anchorage

2011: Day in Our Bay: crowd-sourced video with 72 cameras shooting on one day across Bristol Bay Native Corporation’s region-dozens of film festivals including Nat. Geographic and United Nations /

2011: Babies on Track: infant and toddler literacy readiness educational video and board book set-distributed statewide

2010: Survive & Thrive: Hope, Love and Laughter (television hour with 2nd comprehensive resource DVD included in package)

2009: About Face: The Story of Gwendellin Bradshaw: feature documentary with comprehensive outreach tools and distribution) and study guide for mental health professionals

2008: Read with Me: importance of learning to love to read by involving the kids in imaginative play; Sponsored in part by the Mattel Foundation

2007: The Quiet War: Profiles of Women Fighting Advanced Breast Cancer- comprehensive DVD with expert information and produced with grants from Breast Cancer Focus Inc, production funding from Susan G. Komen Foundation

2006: The Gift: a 10-minute narrative film intergenerational story about life when we “unplug to connect.”
2005-2015: Series for The Arc of Anchorage: Autism, Children with Complex Medical Needs, Special needs adults, employment, hospice, foster parenting

2003: Beyond Flowers- 2003 (what to say/do when someone is diagnosed with cancer)
Funded by the Susan G. Komen Foundation; Beat the Odds- Early Warning Signs of Heart Disease in Women

2002: Alaska Children’s Series- at “Two” “Four” and “Six” and “Fourteen”

Prior to 2002: Sea of Oil: Exxon Valdez oil spill’s impact on small community in
Alaska; The Power of Intuition- local PBS series on science and use in
medicine, business, and education); Precious Cargo: Lifetime Television
(surrogacy story) Between Us: Girlfriends’ Inside Guide to Breast Cancer.

Narrative Films Written, Produced and Directed

Pen Pals: 35 mm, 88 minutes, Drama, NYU Thesis Film
Funded with proceeds from writing competition

Tuesday Morning Coffee: mini DV, 75 minutes, Drama, with local actors,
Funded in part by McKnight Foundation

Career Highlights:
• American Film Institute Grant for “Crescendo” a film about domestic violence, 1986
• Jessica Savage Award in film school, 1990
• Sundance Film Festival with documentary, “Sea of Oil” about the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska
• Silver Apple Award/National Educational Film and Video Festival/ ”Sea of Oil”
• Museum of Modern Art Showcase/Sea of Oil
• PBS’ POV, with “Sea of Oil”
• Docker’s Khaki’s for Women Independent Vision Award/Between Us
• Rasmuson Fellowship 2004-05 (to work on Gwen’s Story)
• Nominated to the Athena Society in 2005
• Valdez Theatre Conference Selectee, “Dance of the Hunter” in play format
• Winner, A & E IndieFilms/IDA Finishing Grant, 2005
• Best Documentary, The Quiet War; Reel Women Film Festival, Los Angeles, March 2007
• Winner, National Women’s Press, Photography for Women’s Health Campaign 2008
• Finalist for Jury Prize, HotDocs, 2009, About Face
• Honorable Mention, Korean EIDF Festival, 2009, About Face
• Accolade Award, About Face, 2010

Writing Awards:
Winner, Tokuma Japan International Screenwriting Competition, 1990- “Pen Pals”
Winner, Minnesota Blockbuster McKnight Film Fund- “Tuesday Morning Coffee”
Winner, WinFemme Screenwriting Festival- 2002- “Legacy”
Finalist, Quantum Screenwriting Competition- 2002- “Legacy”
Winner, Adult Fiction, Anchorage Daily News Writing Competition: Fish Story, 2003
Honorable Mention, Adult Nonfiction, Anchorage Daily News : Letting One Go, 2004

A Monkey’s Tale: a novel memoir-co-authored with Thillman Wallace-2015
Beyond Flowers Handbook for Supporters- 2004
How Quietly We Fall- published essay in MAMM, April 2005
Affirmation- contracted for publication in MAMM, December 2005
About Face Discussion Guide- 2010
World School: Discussion Guide-2014
Backing Out of Time Website content- 2015

The Seal Wife- book optioned from Kathryn Harrison for adaptation to screenplay
Robinson Crusoe: for Italian Television mini-series

Add Director Biography
Director Statement

Racism and Our Indigenous People

I have lived and worked in Alaska for over 30 years now. I am interested in taking a look at social challenges through the lens of racism and our indigenous people. In Alaska alone, we have over 13 different self-identified Alaska Native groups from various regions across our huge state. There is a strong component of resurging pride after a terrible history of boarding school abuse and separatist atrocities like “Natives and Dogs not allowed” in cafes and movie theatres. This rise in cultural pride and identity is personified by my character, Samuel Johns, who has revolutionized our approach to our growing displaced persons’ challenges (aka homeless) by using Facebook to connect people to their families back in the rural villages. He’s also formed a partnership with a small regional airline to help them get home. Facebook works as the new “short wave radio” for communication. If you read Facebook posts from the thousands of folks across Alaska, you will see everything from “Send Johnny home- the caribou stew is ready” to “Help, the ice caved in our roof, please come now”. It is readily available for low cost (as opposed to using data they can stand near school wifi hot spots and use it for free) and everyone has it. Instagram is another way you will see rural Alaskans sharing their fish camp lives or whaling reports. As the mother of a young boy about to graduate high school, I have felt a maternal interest in Sam’s growth as well- he’s a loveable character.

However, racism is still very much an issue up here (as anywhere else). Alaska Natives are preyed upon by other ethnic groups, talked down to, resented for preference hiring, lagging severely in our school systems, and make up the majority of our displaced persons on the streets. When I produced the Day in Our Bay ( a crowd-sourced project, I was thrilled to see the willingness to learn media skills and the authenticity and sincerity with which these skills were applied to media. (The goal of stopping Pebble Mine- the proposed largest pit mine in our country- was achieved-at least for six years so far). This is empowering and exciting on so many levels and provides a calling for action to other indigenous cultures globally. What if we work together to show the gaps as well as the healing mechanisms around us? I think this story will be very exciting, and will provide a model and inspiration for other countries. I realize the hotter topics now may be African American or Muslim, but the truth is, Alaska Natives are even considered farther down the targeted spectrum, sadly, as they are a very proud, gentle and kind people as a whole- who are quietly leading changes.

Mary Katzke