On a night so cold it hurts to breathe, three Indigenous men find themselves abandoned by police on the outskirts on town.

Drama, 16mm/HD release, 30 min, Canada, 2008

On a night so cold it hurts to breathe, Soft as Snow and Cold as Ice meet Thomas, a young man in a drunken stupor who has been dumped at the side of the road on the outskirts of town.  When Thomas suggests the two men should walk back to the city with him, Cold as Ice and Soft as Snow persuade him to stay the night.  Each man has a different motive: Cold as Ice wants Thomas to die and join them; Soft as Snow wants Thomas to survive the night so he can return to the city and tell people their story.

This black-and-white drama is rich in metaphor, poignant, non-judgmental, and at times even humorous.  It was inspired by the freezing deaths of several Indigenous  men in Saskatoon, allegedly as a result of the non-sanctioned police practice of taking individuals to an isolated edge of town where they would be beaten and/or abandoned – a practice that earned Canada a place on the 2001 Amnesty International report of human rights abuses.


  • Best Special Effects Award, University of Toronto Film Festival, 2010.
  • Mayor’s Arts and Business Award for Innovation in the Arts, City of Regina, 2009, Sarah Abbott, Producer
    – in recognition of the film’s connection to a wide range of community sectors through its educational process, community outreach and social awareness.


  • Saskatchewan Motion Picture Industry Association Showcase Awards (SMPIA), 2009:
    • Performance – Male Lead, Gordon Tootoosis
    • Performance – Male Lead, Mathew Strongeagle
    • Editing, Sarah Abbott
    • Original Score, Ben Schubert
    • Post-Production Special Effects, Jack Tunnicliffe
  • Best Live Action Short, American Indian Film Festival, San Francisco, 2008


Producer Sarah Abbott
Director Colleen Murphy
Writer Cheryl Jack
Cinematographer Ivan Gekoff , CSC
Editor Sarah Abbott
Cast Gordon Tootoosis, Erroll Kinistino, Mathew Strongeagle


Out In The Cold sprung from creative synergies between Sarah Abbott, as producer and film professor at the University of Regina; Colleen Murphy, the film’s director and 2006-2007 University of Regina Playwright-in-Residence; and Cheryl Jack, an actor and emerging writer based in Saskatoon.  Their efforts and the contributions of actors Gordon Tootoosis, Erroll Kinistino and Mathew Strongeagle, a crew of film production students, First Nations youth, and local film industry professionals created a film that has stimulated discussion about the state of disregard and oppression faced by Indigenous people in Canada and around the world.

Out In The Cold was the first of two professional half-hour dramatic films Sarah produced through an undergraduate class in the Department of Film at the University of Regina.  Cheryl’s script for Out In The Cold was originally written as a theatre play.  She and Colleen worked together to adapt it for cinema.  The film was shot on the outskirts of Regina over four nights in February – the visible breath from the actors is real!  Students worked as crew, alongside local emerging filmmakers and film industry professionals who generously offered their time and expertise to mentor the students and youth for creation of a professional film.  Out In The Cold was supported with funding and in-kind assistance form the Canadian Independent Film and Video Fund, William F. White, Panavision, Java Post Production, Talking Dog Studios, The University of Regina, SCN, ACTRA, The National Film Board of Canada, and the Saskatchewan Motion Picture Association (SMPIA).


The Saskatchewan premiere screenings for Out In The Cold were held in October 2009 at the Roxy Theatre in Saskatoon, and the Royal Saskatchewan Museum in Regina, followed by panel discussions on relationships between Indigenous people and the police.  Both city police chiefs were among the panelists. 450 and 360 people attended the events, respectively.

In Saskatoon, the event was opened with a prayer from the panel consisted of Police Chief Clive Weighill, Dr. Priscilla Settee, professor in Indigenous Studies and Women’s and Gender Studies at the University of Saskatchewan, John Lagimodiere, President of ACS Aboriginal Consulting Services and the Editor/Publisher of Eagle Feather News.  The moderator was Myrna LaPlante, member of the National Family Advisory Circle to the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls.

In Regina, the event was opened with a prayer from Elder Isador Pelletier; the panel consisted of Police Chief Troy Hagen, Dr. Shauneen Pete, VP Academic at First Nations University of Canada, and Dr. Nick Jones, Professor in the Department of Justice Studies. The moderator was Dr. Jo-Ann Episkenew, Professor of English, First Nations University of Canada. The Regina event was supported by a grant from the Humanities Research Institute at the University of Regina, and mispon: A Celebration of Indigenous Filmmaking film festival.

Gordon Tootoosis

The cast and crew were honoured to have renowned actor and Elder Gordon Tootoosis, of Cree and Stoney descent, play the role of Soft as Snow in Out In The Cold. Gordon’s leadership as an activist and actor had a great impact on many people. In 2004, Gordon was awarded membership in the Order of Canada. In the summer of 2011, he left too soon for the spirit world. We miss him.


Saskatchewan Community Network (SCN)


  • Vancouver International Film Festival, 2008 (World Premiere)
  • mispon: A Celebration of Indigenous Filmmaking film festival, Regina, 2008 (Saskatchewan Premiere)
  • Roxy Theatre, Saskatoon, 2008
  • American Indian Film Festival, San Francisco, 2008 (US Premiere)
  • Winnipeg Aboriginal Film Festival, 2008
  • Roxy Theatre, Saskatoon, 2008
  • Food Bank Lecture Series, Regina, 2009
  • Rainbow Theatre, Regina, 2009
  • Spokane International Film Festival, Washington, 2009
  • Sedona International Film Festival, 2009
  • Women in Film Festival, Vancouver, 2009
  • Palm Springs Festival of Native Film and Culture, California, 2009
  • Aboriginal Achievement Week, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, 2009
  • Sâkêwêwak Artists’ Collective Storyteller’s Festival, Regina, 2009
  • Cowichan International Aboriginal Film Festival, Duncan, BC, 2009
  • Montreal First Peoples Festival, 2009
  • 3rd Annual Aboriginal HIV/AIDS & HVC Conference, Regina, 2009
  • University of Toronto Film Festival, 2010
  • Truth and Reconciliation Regional Event, Victoria, 2012
  • Amnesty International Film Festival, Regina, 2012
  • Images of Indigenous Peoples in Contemporary Film class, Department of English, First Nations University of Canada, 2012
  • Rainbow Youth Centre, Regina, 2013
  • Asinabka Film and Media Arts Festival, National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, 2012
  • University Film and Video Association, Chapman University, Orange, California, 2013
  • Casa Gaia, Havana, Cuba, 2013
  • Documenting Reality class, Department of Film, University of Regina, 2013
  • “House of Dance: Film and Live Dance On The Edge,” Ice & Fire Winter Carnival, New Dance Horizons, Regina, 2014
  • Storytellers Festival, Sâkêwêwak Artists’ Collective, Regina, 2014
  • Winnipeg Regional Health Authority, Population and Public Health, Healthy Sexuality and Harm Reduction, Winnipeg, 2014
  • Apathy into Action conference, RPIRG, Aboriginal Student Centre, University of Regina, 2015
  • Café Ex, Canadian Film Institute (CFI), Ottawa, 2016

Media and Writing

Coming Soon.


Moving Images Distribution
Vtape, Toronto

Closed Captioned
Version with Spanish subtitles available
Cree translation by Solomon Ratt