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The Jingle Dress (2014)

| Comedy, Family, Mystery
John Red Elk hears from his relatives down in Minneapolis that his Uncle Norton is dead and vows to go to the big city to find out what really happened to him. At its heart, "The Jingle ... See full summary »


William Eigen


William Eigen


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Credited cast:
S'Nya Sanchez-Hohenstein S'Nya Sanchez-Hohenstein ... Rose
Chaske Spencer ... John Red Elk
Stacey Thunder ... Elsie
Steve Reevis ... Buff
Kimberly Guerrero ... Janet
Tony Papenfuss Tony Papenfuss ... Marvin
Brandon Oakes ... Rik
Mauricimo Sanchez-Hohenstein Mauricimo Sanchez-Hohenstein ... Chris
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Gini Adams Gini Adams ... Sally
Mark Adzick Mark Adzick ... Sergeant
Chloe Andree Chloe Andree ... Teenage Girl #3
Frank Bellanger Frank Bellanger ... Carl
Bruce Bohne ... Paymaster
Zion Braveheart Zion Braveheart ... Jame
Ernest Briggs Ernest Briggs ... Bill (scenes deleted) (as Ernest Briggs IV)


John Red Elk hears from his relatives down in Minneapolis that his Uncle Norton is dead and vows to go to the big city to find out what really happened to him. At its heart, "The Jingle Dress" is a contemporary story of a Native American family that moves from their rural home on the reservation in northern Minnesota to the faster paced urban environment of Minneapolis. We follow the Red Elk family as they experience city culture through their unvarnished perspective, as well as gain insight into their Indigenous culture and traditions. Written by William Eigen

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Comedy | Family | Mystery


Did You Know?


Uncle Matty: [to the excessively indigenous-poking-fun-of & mainly city dwelling brother-in-law of John Red Elk]
Uncle Matty: The problem with you is that you haven't got any ways to change.
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User Reviews

The movie paints a vivid portrait of a simple story about growing up in a hard time.
15 May 2015 | by ryangilmer007See all my reviews

(I guess in the loosest sense there is a spoiler, but it is by the loosest definition only, as a plot summary is given in the next sentence or two.)

Note: I also state that there is a twist. However, this twist isn't a spoiler in terms of how the movie ends, but rather in how the movie is told.

The viewer can watch the movie one way; that being from the eyes of the grownups.

A second way to view the film is to watch the story unfold through the eyes of the child. Doing so has different meaning and effect.


"The Jingle Dress" film is a simple story told in a straight forward way with the twist that it's essentially about a little girl growing up.

As directed by William Eigan and produced by Mr. Eigan and Meighan McGuire, "The Jingle Dress" is a contemporary look at Native American family life, indigenous culture, and tradition.

It's slow, it's meditative, it's about murder and growing up, yet it works and should be viewed.

Steve Reevis and Chaske Spencer lead weight to the story as Johnny Red Elk and Uncle Buff as they search for what happened to "Uncle Norton".

Stacey Thunder is the loving wife who follows her husband, Mr. Red Elk, off the "rez." and takes care of the kids.

She is sort of the bridge between the 2 linear stories.

One is being told via the death/murder search by the adults and the other is told through the eyes of their daughter Rose, as played by S'Nya Sanchez-Hohenstein.

Rose is growing up and getting her Jingle Dress soon while at the same time wishing she was a real Indian.

So in essence she is the children's story part of "the Jingle Dress".

Note: a jingle dress is essentially a native American customary dress for a naming ceremony. It basically literally is a growing up dress.

This part of the story is anchored, and also bridged, by a funny yet educational grandpa figure (uncle Matty), as played by Charles Brin, and the interaction of Rose with her loving yet serious faced DieselPitbull Walsh, both of whom help Rose grow up and learn about her culture while the adults are off on the business of living (and dying).

Through the story you see that anything is possible yet it still takes a lot to get used to this place.

You can view it through the eyes of an adult and "rez" life or the more simple view of a girl growing up and "rez" and land and nature.

Afterall, once Rose grows up and gets her Jingle Dress she is both an adult and an "Indian".

In the end things come full circle.

The film was made through a Minnesota Production grant of 2014. While 4 production companies received a grant, only Patrick Coyle (The Public Domain) and William Eigan finished the feature films and filmed entirely in Minnesota.

Production wise the cinematography, editing, and lighting serve the story. Although there are funny moments in deleted segments the cuts serve the story. A story that is essentially of a little girl who can see far, loves stories, and learns what is like to be a real Indian as she grows up and into her Jingle Dress.

(Official selection of ‪#‎mspiff2014‬) (a DVD release is scheduled around July 2015)

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Filming Locations:

Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA

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