Once Upon A River

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


  • Kenadi DelaCerna
  • John Ashton
  • Tatanka Means
  • Ajuawak Kapashesit
  • Lindsay Pulsipher
  • Josephine Decker
DVD Features

Bonus featurette "The Music of Once Upon a River."

Discs: 1

  • Highest Rating
    "Beautiful. Shocking. Moving. Haunting. Lovely. Lasting. First-time feature writer-director (and Chicago area product) Haroula Rose’s “Once Upon a River” is all that and more. It’s a stark, authentic slice of a certain kind of rough-hewn life — the calloused-hands world we see in gritty films such as “Frozen River” and “Winter’s Bone,” “Leave No Trace” and “American Woman.” There’s no trace of Hollywood glamour or gloss to the story, no hint of actor-y flourishes in the deeply resonant performances. Just a lean, finely crafted, memorably real story announcing the presence of a major new filmmaking talent — and a young actor with the promise of limitless potential."
    Richard Roeper, Chicago Sun-Times
  • Highest Rating
    "As Margo, Kenadi DelaCerna absolutely shines in not only her first feature film but her first leading role as well."
    Alan Ng, Film Threat
  • Highest Rating
    "Haroula Rose’s feature film, Once Upon A River, features stunning performances and camerawork...."
    Danielle Solzman, Solzy at the Movies
  • Highest Rating
    "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
  • Highest Rating
    "Once Upon A River highlights great talent both in front of and behind the camera."
    John Higgins, Film and TV Now
  • Highest Rating
    "Haroula Rose is an extraordinary talent."
    David Ferguson, Red Carpet Crash

Awards & Recognition

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