[Mature content, viewer discretion advised.]
How do you go on?
The five-hour film, aired in two parts on PBS April 1 and 2, focuses on Robin Charboneau, a member of the Oglala Sioux tribe in North Dakota. A single mother struggling to raise her two children on the Spirit Lake Nation reservation, Charboneau faces daunting odds living in a community plagued by poverty, alcoholism, domestic violence, sexual abuse, and a systemic unwillingness to address its own worst problems.
Charboneau’s path is made no easier by her own troubled childhood. From the age of 3 she was brutally assaulted by family members, then placed in a foster home at 13. Alcoholism, depression, and troubled relationships with abusive men, including her ex-husband, marked her young adulthood. The couple’s custody battles over their children -- daughter Darian, now 17, and son Anthony, 14 -- frame much of Sutherland’s story, which he began filming in 2008, following Charboneau as she fled the reservation and tried to establish an independent life for herself and her kids.