Once Upon A River

Directed by Haroula Rose
Film Movement
92 Minutes
Drama, Coming of Age

Based on the best-selling novel by Bonnie Jo Campbell, Once Upon A River is the story of Native American teenager Margo Crane in 1970s rural Michigan. After enduring a series of traumas and tragedies, Margo (newcomer Kenadi DelaCerna) sets out on an odyssey on the Stark River in search of her estranged mother. On the water, Margo encounters friends, foes, wonders, and dangers; navigating life on her own, she comes to understand her potential, all while healing the wounds of her past. Written and directed by Haroula Rose, this midwestern gothic Americana story is, in the words of Jane Smiley for The New York Times, “an excellent American parable about the consequences of our favorite ideal, freedom.”

Director & Cast




  • "As Margo, Kenadi DelaCerna absolutely shines in not only her first feature film but her first leading role as well."
    Alan Ng, Film Threat
  • "...the performances are quietly convincing throughout, from DelaCerna’s warm, resilient Margo, to John Ashton’s gruff, no-nonsense Smoke, an old woodsman she meets along the way. And director Rose steers the film with a steady hand, balancing a tender coming of age drama with a slice of rural period piece that is both chilling and earnestly moving."
    Matthew Nerber, Third Coast Review
  • "Haroula Rose’s feature film, Once Upon A River, features stunning performances and camerawork...."
    Danielle Solzman, Solzy at the Movies
  • "Once Upon a River—with a tremendous performance from Kenadi DelaCerna as Margo—enchants us in this simple but evocative coming-of-age tale. "
    Robert Daniels, 812 Film Reviews
  • "Once Upon A River highlights great talent both in front of and behind the camera."
    John Higgins, Film and TV Now