Seattle International Film Festival 2008
May 15 - Jun 15, 2008
Making the River
75 minutes / 2007 / Family
Sarah Del Seronde
MAKING THE RIVER is the story of Native American Jimi Simmons who, along with his brother George, was charged with murdering a guard in Washington State’s Walla Walla prison. George was guilty. Jimi was innocent. The film chronicles Jimi’s quest for civil and religious rights, justice and freedom and the people who helped him along the way. In 1954, when Jimi was only seventeen months old the US government dissolved his tribe, his family was torn apart and Jimi became a ward of the state, moving from orphanages, to foster homes, to juvenile detention and state correctional facilities. In 1979, Jimi and his brother George were serving a sentence at Walla Walla prison for assault and robbery. There began a series of events, which led to the longest prison lock-down in Washington State history and first degree murder charges that were brought against Jimi and his brother George Simmons for the death of the prison guard. George Simmons was tried first and was found guilty and eventually committed suicide. When it was Jimi’s turn, he was appointed an attorney who had never defended a felony case. Faced with almost insurmountable odds that he would be convicted and executed, the defense team was formed. In 1981, after spending two and a half years in solitary confinement, Jimi was tried and acquitted of first-degree murder.