March Point

The journey of three teens from the Swinomish Indian Tribe who make a film about the threat from two local oil refineries.

Film Signature Image
Independent Lens
Premiere Date
November 18, 2008
60 minutes
  • Award laurels-r Created with Sketch.
    2008 Global Green Indigenous Film Festival-Audience Award
  • Award laurels-r Created with Sketch.
    2008 imagineNATIVE Film & Media Arts Festival-Best Documentary Award
  • Headshot of woman

    Annie Silverstein

    Annie Silverstein is a filmmaker and educator. Her short film, Skunk, won the Cinéfondation jury award at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival. Silverstein’s feature debut, Bull, premiered at the Cannes Un Certain Regard in 2019, and received three Independent Spirit Award nominations in 2021. She is currently a professor at Texas State University.

    Other ITVS Films
    Breaking Silence
    Headshot of woman

    Tracy Rector

    Tracy Rector approaches storytelling with a passion for amplifying and uplifting Indigenous and BIPOC voices. She is the managing director of storytelling at Nia Tero, and is the co-founder of Longhouse Media, 4th World Media Fellowship, and the founder of Indigenous Showcase.

    Other ITVS Films
    Outta The Muck

    We fund untold stories for public media.

    Learn more about funding opportunities with ITVS.

    The Film

    Travis, Nick, and Cody have been friends almost all their lives, growing up on the Swinomish reservation in northwest Washington. When they find themselves in trouble with drugs and alcohol, the teens are offered an opportunity to participate in Native Lens, Longhouse Media’s filmmaking program. Figuring it's better than spending afternoons in drug court, they dream about making a film with car crashes and rap music. But they are asked to make a documentary about the impact of two oil refineries on their tribal community instead.

    March Point filmmakers Tracy Rector and Annie Silverstein bring together filmmaking and alternative education through their collaboration with the three young Native Americans. The film assignment sends the boys down a path of historical investigation.

    The boys learn that the people now known as the Swinomish flourished on the bounty of the coast of the Pacific Northwest for thousands of years. Clams, crab, and fish were plentiful, and as the tribal saying goes, “When the tide’s out, the table’s set.” But when Shell Oil built two refineries in the 1950s, on land once owned by the tribe, chemicals made their way into the water, tainting the seafood and shellfish that the Swinomish eat daily. Meanwhile, poverty, drugs, and alcohol have seeped into the lives of the families who live there. Ambivalent at the onset of the filmmaking venture, the boys awaken to the destruction these refineries have wrought in their communities. As the grapple with their assignment, they begin to experience the need to understand and tell their own stories and to grasp the power of this process to change their lives and give back to their community.March Point follows the boys’ journey on their path from childhood to adulthood as they come to understand themselves, their history, and the environmental threat to their people.