Osage cultural leaders met with director Martin Scorsese and lead actor Leonardo DiCaprio on Monday evening at Woolaroc.
The discussion centered on the film adaptation of David Grann’s bestselling book, “Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Indian Murders and the Birth of the FBI.” Principal Chief Geoffrey Standing Bear and Chad Renfro organized the meeting, according to a prepared release. Renfro is the Osage Nation’s ambassador to the film.
“… the meeting was an opportunity for Mr. Scorsese to speak directly to members of the community about the film. It was also an opportunity for Mr. Scorsese and Mr. DiCaprio to hear from the community as the production ramps up to shoot this spring.”
The meeting marks Scorsese’s return to Oklahoma after the film was put on pause last year due to the COVID pandemic.
According to the release, Scorsese gave a brief introduction at the meeting and Osage elder Mongrain Lookout said a prayer in the Osage language.
In attendance were: Standing Bear, Renfro, George Stabler, Pawhuska District Head Committeeman; Dr. Steven Pratt, Hominy District Head Committeeman; Archie Mason, Grayhorse District Head Committeeman; Lookout and his wife; George Shannon, advisor to the Hominy District; Marvin Stepson; Sonny Abbott; Angela Pratt, Speaker of the Osage Nation Congress; Brandy Lemon, Community Consultant to the film and ON Congresswoman; Eddy Red Eagle Jr., advisor to the Pawhuska District; Kathryn Red Corn; Johnny Williams, advisor to Standing Bear and Robin West, Pawhuska District Head Cook. Marianne Bower, the film’s Co-Producer and researcher and Adam Somner, the assistant director, also attended the meeting.
All attendees signed a non-disclosure agreement and are not allowed to speak about the meeting or the film.
“Mr. Scorsese made a presentation of the overall intention of the film, particularly highlighting the themes of trust and betrayal, how ultimately the story of Mollie Kyle and Ernest Burkhart is a microcosm of the wider betrayal of the Osage people,” according to the release.
Scorsese also spoke of his plan to include details of Osage culture to paint a full, truthful picture of the time and the people. Scorsese and his team are currently working with advisors from the community, and plan to engage with more as the preparation work gets seriously underway, according to the release.
DiCaprio and Scorsese both spoke about the story’s continuing relevance as America faces a “reckoning with our past” and that it was necessary to face the facts of the story honestly, according to the release.
“Several members of the community spoke, sharing their concerns, stories and thoughts with the film team,” according to the release. “Mr. DiCaprio asked several questions which sparked thoughtful conversation that will inform the script and his character.”
Scorsese and DiCaprio seemed grateful for the opportunity to hear from the community.
The proceedings followed COVID safety rules, with the production’s COVID safety team running the event, according to the release. All attendees were wearing KN95 masks and sitting spaced 6-8 feet apart. The space was disinfected before and after the meeting and outfitted with multiple air purifiers. All members of the production team are under a strict testing regime as part of the production and tested negative prior to the meeting, according to the release.