The Bears on Pine Ridge

The Pine Ridge Indian Reservation has declared a “State of Emergency”, after an outbreak of youth suicides has devastated the community. Due to a lack of Federal assistance, residents have taken prevention efforts into their own hands. A tenacious Oglala Lakota elder takes charge, rallying the community to get involved, while empowering a resilient young group of suicide survivors to band together to help raise awareness.


Directed by Noel Octavio Bass

Noel Octavio Bass is a first-time filmmaker of Latino American descent, with roots of Mexican-Indigenous ancestry.

Noel embarked on a remarkable journey that led him from a career as a professional photographer in Los Angeles to a documentarian in the heartland of America, in South Dakota. It was there that he undertook an ambitious filmmaking project, resulting in his award-winning debut short documentary about the ongoing mental health crisis disproportionally affecting Native American youth in America.

Driven by his own struggles with mental health and depression, Noel’s path led him to the Pine Ridge Reservation, where he volunteered and immersed himself in the community during a crucial moment: a suicide State-of-Emergency, when Pine Ridge suicide rates reached the highest in the nation. Captivated by the resilience of the community’s first responders and prevention leaders, he began to document their courageous efforts in combatting the crisis. In the process, Noel became acutely aware of the profound mental healthcare challenges faced by the community, and the glaring deficiencies of the federal government’s response. Noel committed himself to the issue, capturing most of the production as a one-man operation, and eventually establishing a “second home” of sorts on-location in Pine Ridge, staying in a small RV over the course of several years.

Thanks to the support and funding from Vision Maker Media and The Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Noel’s impactful short film has evolved into a full-length feature, set for release in 2023. This expanded version will further illuminate the profound challenges faced by the community and advocate for the necessary changes and improvements in mental healthcare services.


Noel Octavio Bass

Community Advocate

Teton Saltes

Executive Producer

Kevin Abourezk, Vision Maker Media, Corporation for Public Broadcasting



Saturday, November 4

Screening: 3:30PM

Q&A with Filmmakers
Yvonne “Tiny” DeCory, Laticia DeCory, Teton Saltes

Once Purchased
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Fine Arts Theatre

8556 Wilshire Blvd
Beverly Hills, CA 90211


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