After the Last River

Following the journey of an Indigenous community thrust into the international spotlight.

Sandbox Inc. x Victoria Lean [Parrhesia Media]

About this project

After the Last River is a feature-length documentary tracking the remote First Nation of Attawapiskat over five years as they grapple with mounting environmental issues and the impact of a De Beers diamond mine on the area.

The film investigates the resulting complex social, political, and economic dynamics for the Indigenous community, as well as the Idle No More protests during this period, which drew mainstream attention. Director Vicki Lean captures their story through personal testimonies of residents, as well as interviews with industry and government representatives.

Watch the trailer

After the Last River is a complex examination of a community under pressure. Poverty, neglect, and isolation combine to force Attawapiskat into accepting the mine on its traditional territory. The mine removes billions of dollars worth of diamonds, the promised jobs barely materialize and the community is threatened by potential mercury contamination of its fish, a traditional food source.

Using day-in-the-life footage on the reserve, Lean paints a portrait of a territory that is an imperilled homeland to some and a profitable new frontier for others. In so doing, she captures a microcosm of the broader Indigenous rights movement.

Attawapiskat community protesting in the streets
Children walk down a road in the Attawapiskat community

Production and distribution

Sandbox co-produced this documentary with Lean and provided post-production services. Our distributor Indiecan set up a successful theatrical run across Canada. 

After the Last River screened in dozens of festivals across Canada and won 5 festival awards, including Best Canadian Feature at Planet in Focus, where it also opened the festival, and the Nigel Moore Youth Programming Award at DOXA. It was featured on the cover of the 100th Issue of POV magazine (Canada’s documentary magazine) and had its broadcast premiere on the CBC's documentary channel in Canada and NITV in Australia. It was nominated for a Canadian Screen Award (CSA) for Best Social/Political Documentary in 2017.

After the Last River promotional poster
Attawapiskat youth outside using video equipment

Sandbox has a strong interest in the histories, perspectives, cultures, and issues of Indigenous People and recognizes the urgency in showcasing stories that not only resonate with viewers, but drive action. The film aims to support conversations about a more just and sustainable Canada and continues to screen in First Nations communities, colleges, and high schools.

Vicki headshot

About the director

Working in both documentary and comedy, Victoria Lean is an award-winning writer, director and producer whose keen artistic sensibility and forward-thinking approach earned her the Vanguard Award from the Documentary Organization of Canada (2017). 

She recently produced, wrote and directed We're All Gonna Die (Even Jay Baruchel) a six-part documentary series about existential threats to humanity, which premiered at Hot Docs (2022) and is now streaming on CRAVE. Her latest documentary, The Climate Baby Dilemma, for CBC Originals was broadcast in November 2022 and is now streaming on CBC Gem in Canada.

She also executive produced I Like Movies (TIFF 2022) and produced Nirvanna the Band the Show - which the National Post called "the best Canadian TV show in the last two decades." It also premiered at TIFF and was broadcast in Canada, the US, the UK, and Australia.

Praise for After the Last River

After The Last River might be the most important & moving doc this year.

— Thom Ernst, film critic for the Toronto Star

A work of great focus and observation, After the Last River manages not to sacrifice complexity for directness.

— POV Magazine

Her film may be the most pressing portrait of Canada you will see all year.

— Tom Charity, Programmer of the Vancouver International Film Festival

A worn down building in Attawapiskat


  • Best Canadian Feature, Planet in Focus 2015
  • Nigel Moore Award, DOXA Documentary Film Festival 2015
  • Best Canadian Documentary (Nominee), Vancouver Film Critics Circle Awards 2016
  • Roger’s Audience Choice Award Winner, Regent Park FF 2016
  • Audience Choice Award Winner, Bay Street Film Festival 2015
  • Donald Brittain Award (Nominee), Canadian Screen Awards 2017


  • CBC Documentary Channel
  • Hollywood Suite
  • NITV (Australia)

Where to watch

The full film is currently being broadcast on Hollywood Suite and it is available on iTunes. Educational distribution is handled by MacIntyre Media.

iTunes Store logoMcintyre Media logo

Learn more

The film’s website hosts links for anyone interested in learning more and supporting the cause further.

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