+ L O G L I N E +
A turbulent intersection of class and racism erupts into violence between Chinese immigrants and insurrectionists in 1885, Sweetwater County, Wyoming; pitting a mix-raced U.S. Marshal with a dark lineage against the uprising's leader: his estranged but beloved half-sister.
+ P R E M I S E +
SWEETWATER INSURRECTION, written by Harry Locke IV, is a fictional epic that is inspired by a factual dark moment in the American West's history: the massacre of Chinese immigrants in 1885, Rock Springs, Wyoming. An insurrection that sparked when citizens of predominantly white European origin, who could only lay claim to their settlements for a few generations, turned against new incomers from China.
The problem was economic. The owners of the mines and railways employed the Chinese because they were desperate, and would accept worse pay and conditions in comparison to other laborers. This was the ugly face of rapacious capitalism in 1885, and it remains just as twisted today, giving this film a sharp and defined contemporary edge.
This real-life incident serves as the film's foundation. Allowing the script to put the traditional Western, built on myths that both obscure and normalize a history of racism, imperialism, violent colonialism, shameful slavery, and toxic masculinity, bang to rights.
These themes are explored not only through a historical lens, but also via a unique fictional story of sibling love and rivalry: BRONAGH, the fair-skinned daughter of Confederate General CLAYTON BULLOCK, who is the equal of any male, and JEREMIAH, the General's strong but sensitive mulatto son by a slave woman. There is a sturdy bond and enormous love between the brother and sister, until they are separated...
Clayton and his convoy are ambushed by Yankee Captain WILLIAM BROUSSEAU as they attempt to flee for Mexico in the wake of the Confederacy's defeat in 1865. William and his troops destroy Clayton and his ragtag rebellion. Subsequently, all the children of the defeated Confederates are placed in an orphanage, except for Jeremiah, whom William adopts as his son.
20 years later, William is governor of Wyoming Territory, Jeremiah has become U.S. Marshal JAXSON BROUSSEAU, and Bronagh leads a gang of outlaws known as THE SCARECROWS. When the siblings reunite, it is clear that while they hold love for each other in their hearts, they stand on opposite sides of the law. Bronagh aims to take down William and everything he stands for by harnessing the hate between the White and Chinese laborers to exact her own revenge.
From this sibling conflict births swirling passions, vaulting ambition, raw violence, betrayal, and tragedy, all laced with racism so shocking that it feels ripped from a contemporary news bulletin. This is a dynamic story with home invasions, gruesome deaths, gunfights galore and the rise of unlikely heroes that are unique to the genre.
The film boasts a rich, diverse cast of characters: Chinese, Native American, Black, White, and Mulatto. But perhaps, the most standout of them all is MOON. A Chinese woman who loses her husband to the violence of the insurrection, and refuses to take persecution lying down. She rises above the fray before her, transforming from victim to vengeful widow to a beacon of resiliency in the face of overwhelming adversity.