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About

The Smithsonian’s Mother Tongue Film Festival celebrates cultural and linguistic diversity by showcasing films and filmmakers from around the world, highlighting the crucial role languages play in our daily lives.

In 2023, the festival returns in person! Join us in Washington, DC, February 23 to 26. All events are free, and advanced registration is required. Limited tickets may be available at the door on a first-come, first-served basis.

Our Mission

Through digital storytelling, the festival amplifies the work of diverse practitioners who explore the power of language to connect the past, present, and future.

Land Acknowledgment

We acknowledge with respect the Piscataway people on whose traditional territory the Smithsonian stands and whose relationship with the land west of the Chesapeake Bay continues today.

Returns

Thursday, February 23, 6:30 pm
Ring Auditorium, Hirshhorn Museum

How do we retrace the steps of our ancestors? For our opening night, we present two documentaries about women confronting situations that force them to reckon with the past. A visit to a museum sparks an Indigenous filmmaker’s reflection on questions of cultural property and heritage. In the second film, complicated revelations initiate a journey back home for a young woman reflecting on motherhood.

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Youth & Language Revitalization:
Sakha Media School in Russia

Friday, February 24, 3:30 pm
Q?rius, National Museum of Natural History

We take a deep dive into Sakha, an Indigenous language of the Subarctic Sakha Republic, Russia and ongoing revitalization efforts. The screening features three youth-directed shorts made in the Smithsonian-sponsored Sakha Media School. The films will be interspersed with short panel discussions and Q&As, with Mary Linn, Smithsonian Curator of Language and Cultural Vitality; Daria Boltokova, co-director of the Sakha Media School and Assistant Professor, Memorial University of Newfoundland; Kathryn Yegorov-Crate, a researcher and Mother Tongue intern, and a pre-recorded conversation with one of the youth participants in the city of Yakutsk, Russia.

Арассыыйа арктическай регионун хотугулуу-илин Сибииригэр Саха Медиа Оскуолата баар. Саха тыла – Саха Сиригэр төрүт олохтоох сахалар тыллара. Биһиги Саха тылын чөлүгэр түһэриигэ туох-ханнык үлэлэр баалларын сиһилии үөрэтэбит. Смитсоновскайдааҕы Институт спонсордааһынан Саха Медиа Оскуола эдэр ыччаттара оҥорбут үс кылгас метражтаах киинэни көрдөрүөҕэ. Киинэлэр Смитсоновскайдааҕы Институт Тыл уонна Культура тыыннаах ордор (хаалар) кыахтаах буолуутун кураторын Мэри Линн; Саха Медиа Оскуола содиректора Дарья Болтокова; уонна киинэфестиваль стажёр, чинчийээччи Кэтрин Егоров-Крейт кыттыылаах кылгас дискуссиялардаах, ыйытыыларга эппиэттэрдээх уонна Дьокуускай куоратка олохтоох биир эдэр кыттааччылыын сэһэргэһиини эрдэттэн уһуллубутунан доҕуһуоллаах буолуоҕа.

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Мы глубоко изучаем якутский язык, коренной язык Республики Саха, арктического региона на северо-востоке Сибири, Россия, и продолжающимися усилиями по его возрождению. На показе представлены три короткометражных фильма снятых молодежи Саха Медиа Школы, спонсируемой Смитсоновским Институтом. Фильмы будут сопровождаться короткими панельными дискуссиями и вопросами и ответами с Мэри Линн, куратором Смитсоновского Института языка и культурной жизнеспособности; Дарьей Болтоковой, содиректором Саха Медиа Школы; Кэтрин Егоров-Крейт, исследователем и стажером кинофестиваля «Mother Tongue», и предварительно записанной разговором с одним из молодых участников в городе Якутск.

Nomokhtookh sir: Legend and Landscape

Friday, February 24, 7 pm
Planet Word

In the Sakha language, “nomokhtookh sir” means “legend-filled land” or, more poetically, “land alive with legend.” Although there is great diversity among Indigenous Peoples worldwide, one of the strongest threads of commonality is a deep and enduring connection to, and respectful, reciprocal relationship with, land. Humans are interconnected to the land and develop systematic knowledge that is part of all aspects of life, including the cultural and spiritual. The films presented in “Nomokhtookh sir: Legend and Landscape” emphasize these kinds of land relationships and ways of knowing.

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These films contain disturbing scenes that may not be appropriate for all audiences. 

«Номохтоох сир» диэн саха тылынан «номох буолбут сир» эбэтэр, ордук поэтическайдык, «сир номоҕунан тыыннаах» диэн өйдүөххэ сөп. Аан Дойду төрүт олохтоох норуоттар ортолоругар төһө да улахан уратылаһыылар-араастаһыылар баалларын иһин, дьон-норуот биир саамай бигэ тиһигинэн буолар: сири-дойдуну кытта хаһан да быстыспат дириҥ ситим уонна бэйэ дойдутугар ытыктабыллаах сыһыан. Дьон Сири кытта хардарыта ситимнээхтэр уонна дьиҥ олоххо чахчы баары сэргэ, олох культурнай уонна духовнай эйгэтин хабыы-билии систематын сайыннарар үтүөлээх. Бу «Номохтоох Сир: Номох уонна Сир» диэн программаҕа баар киинэлэр сирдээҕи сыһыаннаһыылары уонна олору билии ньымаларын тоһоҕолоон көрдөрөллөр.

Читать на русском

На якутском языке «номохтооx сир» означает «Земля, о которой ходят легенды» или, более поэтично, «земля, живая легендами». Несмотря на большое разнообразие среди коренных народов во всем мире, одной из самых прочных нитей общности является глубокая и прочная связь с Землей и уважительные взаимные отношения с ней. Люди взаимосвязаны с Землей и развивают систематические знания, которые являются частью всех аспектов жизни, включая культурный и духовный. Фильмы, представленные в программе «Номохтоок сир: Легенда и Земля», подчеркивают эти виды земельных отношений и способов познания.

Returning Traditions

Saturday, February 25, 12 pm
Baird Auditorium, National Museum of Natural History

When the tide of first contact and “modernism” hits cultures, there is often a period of adopting new skills and technologies by the host culture. When the churning of waves subsides, there is a focus on going back to the tangible heritage from generations past. These films examine going back to the source and returning to the traditions of ancestors.

Healing Ways

Saturday, February 25, 1:30 pm
Baird Auditorium, National Museum of Natural History

Legacies of healing are at the heart of this program, whether in revitalizing ceremony, passing a test, or creating ritual. Collectively, these two short documentaries, animation, and music video illustrate how intergenerational transmission of knowledge among women can ensure continuation and revitalization of life and lifeways.

Faya Dayi

Saturday, February 25, 3 pm
Baird Auditorium, National Museum of Natural History

The Harar region of Eastern Ethiopia once grew a number of lucrative crops for export. Now, the economy is entirely dependent on the cultivation of khat, a psychoactive plant that is deeply woven into the lives of its cultivators. In a trance-like unfolding, Faya Dayi explores the complicated nature of this crop in Harar, from the physical to the spiritual.

This is the first feature documentary by Mexican Ethiopian filmmaker Jessica Beshir and a documented return to her hometown, from which she and her family fled to avoid political strife when she was a teenager. We are delighted to host Beshir for a deeper exploration of the film in a Q&A following the screening.

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Roots of, and Routes to, Home

Saturday, February 25, 6:30 pm
Baird Auditorium, National Museum of Natural History

Shaped through ancestral, historical, and contemporary migration, home within Oceania is rooted in place and defined by these routes. The three films within this program explore the ways communities in Papua New Guinea, Hawai‘i, and Aotearoa New Zealand are calling out the injustices of settler colonialism and resource extraction, and asserting their sovereignty.

Night Raiders

Sunday, February 26, 2 pm
Rasmuson Theater, National Museum of the American Indian

Cree/Metis filmmaker Danis Goulet’s debut feature delivers a sci-fi thriller set in the dystopian future, examining the impact of colonization on Indigenous peoples and the painful past of forced assimilation on Indigenous children. Night Raiders’ depiction of Indigenous resilience and hope, speaks to the importance of community, culture, and coming home.

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This film contains disturbing scenes and strong language that may not be appropriate for all audiences. 

Dreams

Sunday, February 26, 6:30 pm
Ring Auditorium, Hirshhorn Museum

Dreams can serve as aspirations or inner visions, such as longing for love and belonging or knowledge downloaded from the dream state. Encoded into a dream is a responsibility: to see it through. We are pleased to host the director of Vaychiletik, Juan Javier Perez, for a Q&A session following the screening.

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Presented in partnership with the Embassy of Mexico in the United States and the Mexican Cultural Institute of Washington, D.C.

Venue Map


Partners

The Mother Tongue Film Festival is a public program of Recovering Voices, a collaboration between Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, the National Museum of the American Indian, the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, and the Asian Pacific American Center. Find related resources through Folklife’s Mother Tongue Media and Language Vitality Initiative.

National Museum of Natural History logo.
National Museum of the American Indian logo.
Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage logo.
Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center logo.

This program received support from Arenet, the Embassy of Mexico in the United States, Ferring Pharmaceuticals, Georgetown University Department of Anthropology, Mexican Cultural Institute of Washington DC, New Zealand Embassy to the United States of America, Planet Word, The Elizabeth and Whitney MacMillan Endowment, and Wick and Bonnie Moorman.

Ferring Pharmaceuticals logo
Georgetown University Department of Anthropology logo
Mexican Cultural Institute logo
New Zealand Embassy logo
Planet Word Museum logo
International Decade of Indigenous Languages logo
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New York, just another city

Thursday, February 23, 6:30 pm
Ring Auditorium, Hirshhorn Museum


Directors

André Lopes
Joana Brandão

Region

Brazil

Languages

English, Portuguese, Guaraní

Year

2019

Runtime

30 min.

Category

Documentary Short

Patrícia Ferreira, a young leader and filmmaker, has been recognized for the documentaries she has been making with her people, the Guarani Mbya. She was called to debate her work at one of the world’s largest ethnographic film festivals, the Margaret Mead Film Festival, held at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. There, she comes across exhibitions, debates, and attitudes that make her think about the juruá people’s world, contrasting it with the Guarani modes of existence.

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Daughter of a Lost Bird

Thursday, February 23, 6:30 pm
Ring Auditorium, Hirshhorn Museum


Director

Brooke Swaney

Region

United States

Language

English

Year

2020

Runtime

65 min.

Category

Documentary Feature

In many ways, Kendra Potter is a perfect example of cultural assimilation, a modern representation of the painful phrase, “kill the Indian, save the man.” She is a thriving woman who grew up in a loving, upper-middle-class white family, and she feels no significant loss from the absence of Native American culture or family in her life. And yet, as a Blackfeet/Salish woman, director Brooke Swaney could not imagine that Kendra could be content or complete without understanding her heritage. So together they embark on a seven-year journey.

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Video art “һөҕүҥ”

Friday, February 24, 3:30 pm
Q?rius, National Museum of Natural History


Director

Alexander Okhlopkov

Region

Sakha Republic, Russia

Language

Sakha

Year

2022

Runtime

2 min.

Category

Animation

The Sakha language uses the Cyrillic alphabet, but there are five unique characters used to denote sounds found in the Sakha language. This short animation shows these characters on the Aal Luuk Mas (tree at the core of Sakha cosmology), accompanied by a poem about the importance of the Sakha language.

Саха алфавита кириллица систематыгар олоҕурбут, ол эрээри сахалыы ураты дорҕооннору бэлиэтииргэ биэс анал буукубалар туттуллаллар. Бу кылгас анимация ол буукубалары Аал Луук Маһыгар көрдөрөр уонна саха тыла суолталааҕын туһунан хоһоонунан доҕуһуолланар.

Якутский язык использует систему кириллицы, но есть пять специальных букв (символов), используемых для обозначения звуков в якутском. Эта короткая анимация показывает этих букв на Аал Луу Мас (древе мира) и сопровождается стихотворением о важности якутского языка.

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Sakha Tyla: How to teach a machine to understand Sakha

Friday, February 24, 3:30 pm
Q?rius, National Museum of Natural History


Director

Maksim Tomash

Region

Sakha Republic, Russia

Language

Sakha

Year

2021

Runtime

31 min.

Category

Documentary Short

How do you save a language that has not been spoken for a whole generation? It’s essential to use the language in chat rooms and in creating movies, blogs, and rap music, and to generally use it more often on the internet. Alexey Ivanov understood this and approached the Russian search engine Yandex with the idea of making an online translator for the Sakha language. The task that engineers solved many times with other languages turned out to be more difficult and interesting than ever imagined.

Бэйэлэрин тылларынан хайы сах саҥарбат буолбут бүтүн көлүөнэ саха баар буолла, онон төрүт тылы хайдах быыһыахха сөбүй? Ол туһугар маннык соруктар наадалар: чатка бэйэ бэйэни кытта сахалыы суруйсары саҕалааһын, сахалыы тыллаах киинэлэри уонна блоктары устуулар, рэп аахтарыахха, интернеткэ саха тылын элбэхтик туттуу. Итилэри Алексей Иванов бигэтик өйдөөбүт энтузиаст. Кини ол иһин сахалыыттан тылбаастыыр онлайн-тылбаасчыт оҥорор идеялаах Яндекска кэлбитэ. Инженердэр маннык соругу атын тыллары кытта элбэҕи ситиспиттэрэ эрээри, саха тылыттан тылбаастааһын олус уустуктардаах даҕаны уонна умсугутуулаах буолбута. Маныаха бу проекка технологияны таһынан идейнэй герой наада буолбута.

Как спасти язык, на котором не говорит уже целое поколение? Нужно, чтобы на нем начали переписываться в чатах, снимать кино и блоги, читать рэп и чаще использовать в интернете. Алексей Иванов — энтузиаст, который это понял и пришел в Яндекс с идеей сделать онлайн-переводчик с якутского языка. Задача, которую инженеры решали много раз с другими языками, оказалась сложнее и интереснее. Кроме технологий, этому проекту понадобился герой.

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Will the Sakha Language Remain with the Future Generation?

Friday, February 24, 3:30 pm
Q?rius, National Museum of Natural History


Film still.
Director

Zakhar Ivanov

Region

Sakha Republic, Russia

Languages

Sakha, Russian

Year

2021

Runtime

2 min.

Category

Documentary Short

Children in the Sakha Republic, like children across the globe, enjoy watching blockbuster movies and animations. These films are translated and dubbed into Russian but not Sakha. Eleven-year-old Zakhar interviews his peers, all Sakha speakers, to see if anyone can translate the titles of these popular movies from Russian into Sakha.

Саха Республикатын оҕолоро, бүтүнү Аан Дойду оҕолорун курдук, блокбастердары уонна анимацияны үөрүүнү кытта көрөллөр. Бу киинэлэр сахалыы тыллара суохтар, ол эрээри нууччалыы тылбаастаахтар. Захар кини сахалыы саҥарар үөлээннээхтэрэ ити нууччалыы киинэлэр ааттарын сатаан тылбаастыахтара дуо диэн чинчийэр.

Дети в Республике Саха (Якутия), как и дети по всему миру, с удовольствием смотрят блокбастеры и анимацию. Эти фильмы переведены и дублированы на русском языке, но не на якутском. Захар исследует, могут ли его сверстники, все из которых знают якутский, перевести русские названия этих фильмов на якутский.

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Inheriting Ancestral Food

Friday, February 24, 3:30 pm
Q?rius, National Museum of Natural History


Film still.
Director

Baiylaana Popova

Region

Sakha Republic, Russia

Language

Sakha

Year

2022

Runtime

6 min.

Category

Documentary Short

In this part-instruction, part-documentary video, thirteen-year-old Baiylaana and her grandmother show us what traditional Sakha foods they make and consume in their household on a daily basis.

Бу үөрэтэр видеоҕа, Байылаана уонна кини эбээтэ үгэс буолбут сахалыы ханнык астары күннэтэ астыылларын уонна бэйэлэрин дьиэ кэргэннэригэр аһыылларын-сииллэрин биһиэхэ көрдөрөллөр. Минньигэстик аһааҥ!

Отчасти это видео носит образовательный характер, знакомя зрителей с традиционными якутскими блюдами и как их готовить. Видео также является документальным в том смысле, что Байылаана и её бабушка показывают нам, какие традиционные якутские блюда они сами готовят и ежедневно употребляют в своем доме.

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The Sakha Theater’s Invisible Front

Friday, February 24, 3:30 pm
Q?rius, National Museum of Natural History


Film still.
Director

Arylkhan Lebedev

Region

Sakha Republic, Russia

Language

Sakha

Year

2022

Runtime

5 min.

Category

Documentary Short

Most every Sakha person has been to the P.A. Oyunsky Sakha Theater in Yakutsk, the capital of the Sakha Republic. However, not everyone is aware of the theater’s invisible front—the people behind the curtain. Fifteen-year-old Arylkhan ventures backstage to interview the costumers, sound engineers, and makeup artists who make the Sakha Theater run.

Хас биирдии саха киһитэ П.А. Ойуунускай аатынан Саха театрыгар сылдьыбыта буолуо. Ол да буоллар, театр иннигэр көстүбэт - быыс кэннигэр баар үлэһиттэри бары дьон билбэт. Арылхан быыс кэннигэр үлэлиир: костюмердара, звукорежиссердара уонна визажистара суох постановка эмиэ суох дии санаан, кинилэртэн интервью ылаары, быыс кэннин өҥөйөн көрөргө хорсун санааланар.

Почти каждый якутянин посещал Саха театр имени П.А. Ойунского. Однако не все знают о невидимом фронте театра — людях за занавесом. Арылхан отваживается заглянуть за занавес, чтобы взять интервью у костюмеров, звукорежиссеров и визажистов, без которых постановки не могли бы состояться.

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Storm

Friday, February 24, 7 pm
Planet Word


Director

OTYKEN

Region

Siberia, Russia

Language

Chulym

Year

2022

Runtime

4 min.

Category

Music Video

In the music video Storm, Chulym musical group OTYKEN warns of the dangers of traveling into the unforgiving landscape to the east. Fusing traditional Chulym instruments and modern musical sounds, OTYKEN shares wisdom and prayers for those who are brave enough to voyage across frozen lands.

«Буккун» музыкальнай видеоклипкэ Чулымнааҕы музыкальнай бөлөх «OTYKEN» Илин көстүбэт күүстэрдээх сирдэрдээх, онон Илин аанныыр күүтүллүбэтэх кутталлааҕын сэрэтэн-этэн ыллыыллар. «Буккун» Чулымскай народнай инструменнары уонна билиҥҥи музыкальнай дорҕооннору дьүөрэлээн туһанан айанныырга хорсун санааны ылыммыттарга: мындыр өйдөөх буолууну уонна сир-дойду иччитигэр, айыыга, таҥараҕа сыһыаннаах сиэри-туому тутуһар туһалыырын, көрдөһөр-үлэһэр алгыс тыл этэр наадалааҕын үллэстэр.

В музыкальном видеоклипе «Шторм», чулымская музыкальная группа «OTYKEN» предупреждает об опасностях путешествия в неумолимый ландшафт на востоке. Используя сочетание традиционных чулымских музыкальных инструментов и современных музыкальных звуков, «Шторм» делится мудростью и молитвами за тех, у кого хватит смелости совершить путешествие по замёрзшим землям.

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Gnawer of Rocks

Friday, February 24, 7 pm
Planet Word


Director

Andrea Flaherty

Region

Canada

Languages

English, Inuktitut

Year

2020

Runtime

13 min.

Category

Animation

While everyone is busy preparing for the coming winter, two girls wander away from their camp, following a path of strange, beautiful stones. Each stone is lovelier than the last, and the trail leads them farther and farther away. But what starts out as a peaceful afternoon on the land quickly turns dangerous when the girls find themselves trapped in the cave of Mangittatuarjuk—the Gnawer of Rocks! Based on a traditional Inuit legend.

Бука бары кэлэн иһэр кыстыкка бэлэмнэнии үгэнин кэмигэр икки кыыс кыстык сиртэн дьикти кэрэ таастарынан оҥоһуллубут ыллык устун бараллар. Баран истэхтэрин аайы инники таастардааҕар хас биирдии таастар өссө ордук дьэрэкээн кэрэлэр этилэр. Кыргыттар ыллыгы батыһаннар кыстыктара баар дьиэлэриттэн тэйдэр тэйэн, отой ырааппыттар. Маҥнай утаа баралларыгар бэрт үтүө да күн турбута баара эрээри, күн түргэнник куһан буола охсор. Кыргыттар «Мангиттатуарджука» (Тааһы сиэччи) диэн таас хайа угаайылаах хаспаҕар киирэн хаалбыттар. Бу инуит омукка уос номоҕо буолбут кэпсээҥҥэ олоҕурбут.

Пока все заняты подготовкой к наступающей зиме, две девушки уходят из лагеря, следуя по тропинке из странных, красивых камней. Каждый камень прекраснее предыдущего, и тропа уводит их все дальше и дальше от лагеря. То, что начиналось как спокойный день на природе быстро становится опасным, когда девушки оказываются в ловушке в пещере «Мангиттатуарджука» (Камнегрыза)! Основан на традиционной легенде инуитов.

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Cursed Land: Fate

Friday, February 24, 7 pm
Planet Word


Director

Stepan Burnashev

Region

Sakha Republic, Russia

Languages

Sakha, Russian

Year

2020

Runtime

86 min.

Category

Feature Drama/Horror

A twenty-three-year-old student, Alyona, returns home from Moscow to Yakutsk after receiving a call that her mother has been missing for three days. Alyona goes to the police, where she is told her mother ordered a long-distance taxi to the isolated village of Symyyr. In an act of desperation, Alyona asks her stepfather to take her immediately. Upon arrival, the dark land begins to unravel its secrets.

Москваҕа үөрэнэр 23 саастаах Алёна диэн кыыс дьиэтигэр Дьокуутскайга төннөр. Манна кэлбитигэр киниэхэ ийэтин дьүөгэтэ: «Ийэҥ сураҕа суох сүппүтэ үс хонно», - диэн телефоннаабыт. Ону Алёна полицияларга биллэрэр, онуоха киниэхэ: «Ийэҥ куораттар икки ардыларыгар айанныыр таксины Сымыыр дэриэбинэҕэ диэри закаастаабыта биллэр», - диэбиттэр. Онон Алёна киирии аҕатын кинини онно, Сымыырга, түргэнник илдьэригэр көрдөһөр. Тийэн кэлбиттэригэр хараҥа дьайдаах сир бэйэтин кистэлэҥнэрин көрдөрөр.

23-летняя студентка Алёна возвращается домой из Москвы в Якутск после того, как ей позвонила подруга ее матери, которая сообщила, что её мать пропала без вести в течение трех дней. Алёна обращается в полицию, где ей говорят, что её мать заказала междугороднее такси до изолированной деревни Сымыыр. Алёна просит отчима срочно отвезти её туда, и по прибытии темная земля начинает раскрывать свои тайны.

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Evan’s Drum

Saturday, February 25, 12 pm
Baird Auditorium, National Museum of Natural History


Director

Ossie Michelin

Region

Canada

Languages

English, French, Inuktitut

Year

2021

Runtime

13 min.

Category

Documentary Short

An adventurous young boy and his determined mother share a passion for Inuit drum dancing in Happy Valley-Goose Bay. Evan’s Drum is a joyful visit to a family’s loving home and an uplifting story of cultural pride. After generations of silence, the rhythm of the traditional Inuit drum has returned to Labrador, and seven-year-old Evan is part of the new generation that will keep its heartbeat strong.

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Who We Are

Saturday, February 25, 12 pm
Baird Auditorium, National Museum of Natural History


Director

Alexis Anoruk Sallee

Region

Alaska, United States

Languages

English, Iñupiat

Year

2019

Runtime

5 min.

Category

Dramatic Short

Onto a once blank canvas, Iñupiaq artist Tristan Agnauraq Morgan expresses the wisdom, power, and lifeways of her people. Using painting as a storytelling medium, she recalls her community’s relationship with the land, the water, and the life that they provide. It is through her artistic creations that she reflects on the detrimental effects of veering from the wisdom that was passed down to her and explores her role in the preservation of land and culture.

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Nalujuk Night

Saturday, February 25, 12 pm
Baird Auditorium, National Museum of Natural History


Director

Jennie Williams

Region

Canada

Languages

English, Inuktitut

Year

2021

Runtime

13 min.

Category

Documentary Short

Each year, families in the Inuit community of Nain, Canada, celebrate Nalujuk Night, a beloved tradition when frightful figures arrive to reward the good and punish the bad.

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Definition of Resilience,
Episode 2: “Identity”

Saturday, February 25, 12 pm
Baird Auditorium, National Museum of Natural History


Directors

Alexis Anoruk Sallee (Inupiaq)
Tomás Karamelo Amaya (Yaqui, Zuni & Tarahumara)

Region

United States

Languages

English, Ojibwe

Year

2018

Runtime

11 min.

Category

Documentary Short

Definition of Resilience is a four-episode radio and video documentary series highlighting the dynamic stories of Native American hip-hop MCs. In this episode, Mic Jordan and Tall Paul share personal stories around identity. We find out how, despite growing up without a parental figure and struggling with alcohol abuse and anxiety, they became the role models they wanted as kids.

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Prayers in a Song

Saturday, February 25, 12 pm
Baird Auditorium, National Museum of Natural History


Director

Tall Paul

Region

United States

Languages

English, Ojibwe

Year

2020

Runtime

4 min.

Category

Music Video

In Prayers in a Song, songwriter and rapper Tall Paul explores the connections between language, identity, and landscape. This video is part of The Ways, an ongoing series of stories on culture and language from Native communities around the central Great Lakes.

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Ho‘omau

Saturday, February 25, 12 pm
Baird Auditorium, National Museum of Natural History


Director

Kenji Doughty

Region

Hawai‘i, United States

Language

ōlelo Hawai‘i

Year

2016

Runtime

15 min.

Category

Dramatic Short

A mass migration of Pacific Islanders in search of salvation leads to a war between the Native population and the growing numbers of new arrivals. A young girl, Lehua, is stuck in the middle, forced to choose between fighting for what she loves or saving what is left of it.

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Witch

Saturday, February 25, 1:30 pm
Baird Auditorium, National Museum of Natural History


Director

Adrian Villagomez

Regions

Canada, Ukraine

Language

Ukrainian

Year

2021

Runtime

3 min.

Category

Music Video

Witch is a collaboration between Apashe, a Canadian dance and electronic musician, and Alina Pash, a Ukrainian rapper and musician. The music is described as “creepy orchestral with dance flavor,” and Pash’s rap vocals are reminiscent of spellcasting. Shot in Pash’s hometown of Kyiv, the music video weaves the story of a witch burner who reaps what he sows.

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Angakusajaujuq: The Shaman’s Apprentice

Saturday, February 25, 1:30 pm
Baird Auditorium, National Museum of Natural History


Director

Zacharias Kunuk

Region

Canada

Language

Inuktituk

Year

2021

Runtime

20 min.

Category

Animation

A young shaman must face her first test: a trip underground to visit Kannaaluk, The One Below, who holds the answers to why a community member has become ill. Facing dark spirits and physical challenges, she must trust her mentor’s teachings and learn to control her fear.

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Prairie Flowers

Saturday, February 25, 1:30 pm
Baird Auditorium, National Museum of Natural History


Director

Mariana X. Rivera

Region

Mexico

Language

Amuzgo (Ñomndaa)

Year

2021

Runtime

19 min.

Category

Documentary Short

After Silvia’s femicide, her cousin Yecenia, a ñomndaa weaver from the Prairie of Flowers, creates a ritual and poetic mourning alongside other weaving women. Through this ritual, threads, dreams, and their craft are collectively woven together as an act of healing and resilience.

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Long Line of Ladies

Saturday, February 25, 1:30 pm
Baird Auditorium, National Museum of Natural History


Directors

Shaandiin Tome (Navajo)
Rayka Zehtabchi

Region

United States

Languages

English, Karuk

Year

2021

Runtime

22 min.

Category

Documentary Short

Long Line of Ladies intimately observes the months-long process of one girl and her tight-knit Karuk community as they come together to prepare for her Ihuk, the coming-of-age ceremony for girls which went dormant for over 120 years due to the violence and destruction in the American West brought on by the Gold Rush. In the weeks leading up to her Ihuk, Ahty learns traditional dances and songs and mentally and physically prepares to spend four days blindfolded and fasting. Meanwhile, the women and men around her work tirelessly to pass down knowledge, prepare regalia, tools, and food, and, above all, promote the continued revitalization of their traditions.

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Faya Dayi

Saturday, February 25, 3 pm
Baird Auditorium, National Museum of Natural History


Director

Jessica Beshir

Regions

Ethiopia, United States, Qatar

Languages

Oromo, Harari, Amharic

Year

2021

Runtime

118 min.

Category

Documentary Feature

According to Ethiopian legend, khat, a stimulant leaf, was found by Sufi imams in search of the eternal. Inspired by this, Faya Dayi is a spiritual journey into the highlands of Harar immersed in the rituals of khat, which Sufi Muslims chewed for religious meditations and is now Ethiopia’s most lucrative cash crop. Through the prism of the khat trade, Faya Dayi weaves a tapestry of intimate stories of people caught between violent government repression, khat-induced fantasies, and treacherous journeys beyond their borders and offers a window into the dreams of the youth who long for a better life.

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Dodge the Bullet

Saturday, February 25, 6:30 pm
Baird Auditorium, National Museum of Natural History


Director

Man in the Closet

Region

Papua New Guinea

Languages

Tok Pisin, English

Year

2020

Runtime

5 min.

Category

Music Video

Papua New Guinean hip-hop artist Sprigga Mek brings forth his unique style of “conscious rap” in his single Dodge the Bullet, highlighting the highlighting inequality linked to resource extraction, unemployment, and rapid urbanization. With this call to action and an anthem for accountability, Sprigga Mek seeks to empower through music.

Lyrics

Na hamas taim bai yumi lukim, displa kantri ol I kukim
Senisim go na kam na Mama Law ol i burukim (x2)

So mipla tikim, tikim, tikim go na makim ballot pepa
Na yu kisim, kisim, kisim go na yu no sowim pes ya
Yu no tingtim, tingim, tingim ol pipol stap lo ples ya
How yu silip, silip, silip taim mipla pilim pen ya?…Oi!
Kainkain kala mahn, kain mauswara mahn, toktok diriman
Yu wok long kamap dealer man, salim kisim half, wok long kilim mahn
Nogat luksave go long ples, kaikai pulap na yu no les
Taim blong ileksen yu katim kam na giaman sowim pes
Bihain yu rausim long aninit, katim long antap
Rausim ol hanmak blo tumbuna mahn stap
Wasim ol mahn wantaim suga na giaman
Banisim rait bilong olgeta mahn stap
Nau yet ol mahn na meri pilim na karai inau
Ino long taim bai yumi salim displa sky nau
Na hausik  nogat marasin na K40 Million go nating
Lo 40 pela Maserati, 40 bikpla giaman maski
Yu wokim lo laik na mi kisim taim
Stilim lo sun na stilim lo nait
Stilim lo nait go inap tulait
Taim tulait kamap, yupla haitim lo sait

(Chorus, in English)

You gotta recognize the ship is sinking quicker
Because they look you in the eye when they pull the trigger
The Truth is written on the wall but they try to pull it off
I be steppin side to side tryna dodge the bullet (x2)

Yeah, planti memba save toktok tasol nogat wanpla action
Yu yet putim lo sia nau just sidaun na acceptim
Acceptim wanem? Hevi yupla startim, hevi yupla larim, hevi mipla karim
Respectim wanem? Respectim yu? Bikos yu leader mahn bai mipla wokimi gut? Aye!
Displa kain longlong tasol na ol wok long steal stap
Em displa hammer wok long paitim displa nil stap
Ol mahn i save kolim kantri bilong yumi paradais
Ol reipim na ol bagarapim, nau em kamap paia rice
Nau sik emi kisim, sik emi kilim, sik bagarapim em
Nau emi laik painim marasin, painim halivim, sik mi stap yet
Asua bilong yumi yet, pasim dua blo yumi yet
Wanem taim bai yumi tanim na yusim dispela het ah?
Tingim future bilong pikinini na pikinini blo pikinini
Na pasim sua bilong stilim na dinau moni na stilim moni
Long antap go long tambolo, ol stilmahn nosa malolo
Sapos oli maus sap na yumi maus pas, tumoro bai nogat tumoro

Price blo rice na tinpis go antap na hat long kisim
Bikos dinau mahn em apim price na nau bai yumi pilim
Yumi pilim lo bun, yumi pilim nogut
Pilim lo city na pilim lo bus
Pilim lo olgeta wanwan kona
Yu pen, mi pen, olgeta pen nau
Wanem kamap yumi lukim na stap
Tok kam bihain taim action kamap
Yu dinau lo hia go na dinau lo hap
Yu dinau dinau go na dinau pulap
Na husait ken bai bekim displa dinau? Nogat sem blo yu
Na husait ken bai stretim gudpla sindaun? Em bai mi na yu
Ridim lo pepa na lukim lo tv
Harim lo radio na stil nosa bisi
Nogat wari na tingting
Stil hamamas na singsing
Stil nosa tok No, stil na stil moa, stilim na karim go
Yu nosa bisi lo harim tok, bisi lo mekim wok, bisi lo stil moa
Toktok nosa wok, yumi pairap nating lo pesbuk
Ol wok long salim graun, ino long taim bai olgeta ples lus
Pasin bilong korapsen kamap ples klia tasol
Yumi foldim han na lek na lukluk olsem emi  normal…why?

Translation

Now how many times have we witnessed them burn this country?
While they keep on amending and breaking the constitution

So we tick, tick, tick and mark the ballot papers
And you take, take, take and never show face
You never think, think, think about the people in the village
How do you sleep, sleep, sleep while we suffer?
Men of many colors, liars who talk a big deal
You become the dealer man, you sell and take half, you kill people
You forget about the village because your greed can never be satisfied
You only show face during elections
Later you remove from below and remove from the top
You destroy our ancestral grounds
You lie to people with your sweet words
You take advantage of the peoples rights
Right now the people are crying from the pain
It wont be long until you start selling the sky as well
While the hospitals have no medicine, we spend K40 Million
On 40 Maseratis, 40 big lies
You do as you please while I suffer
You steal during the day and steal at night
You steal from night time till day break
When the morning comes, you hide the evidence

(Chorus)

You gotta recognize the ship is sinking quicker
Because they look you in the eye when they pull the trigger
The Truth is written on the wall but they try to pull it off
I be steppin side to side tryna dodge the bullet (x2)

A lot of members talk but no action
You voted him into his seat so just accept it
Accept what? You started the problem and we carry the burden
Respect what? Respect you? Because you’re a leader we have to treat you different?
This kind of ignorance allows them to steal
That is the hammer that’s hitting the nail into the coffin
They used to call our country Paradise
They’ve raped and plundered her, now she’s a prostitute
Now she’s infected by the disease
Now she’s looking for a remedy cause the disease is taking over
It’s our own fault, we shut our own door
When will we ever use your heads?
Think about the future of children’s children’s children
And heal the wounds of stealing and borrowing
From the bottom to the top, these thieves never rest
If they continue to suppress us, tomorrow will have no tomorrow

The price of rice and tinned fish is too high to purchase
Because of the Credit Man now we will feel it
We feel it in our bones, the pain and suffering
We feel it in the city and we feel it in the bush
We feel it at every corner
Your pain, my pain, its our pain now
We see what’s happening
We talk about it once the damage is done
You get a loan here and there
Now you have so many loans to repay
Now tell me who’s going to repay these loans? Shame on you!
Who’s gonna make that change? Well it’s me and you
You read it in the papers and see it on the TV
You hear it on the radio but still you ignore it
You don’t have care at all
You’re happy singing the same old song
You still cant say No! You keep stealing more
You never listen, you continue to steal
Talking doesn’t work, we do it too much on Facebook
They’re selling all our land, wont be long till all our land is gone
Corruption is evident and clear
But we fold our hands and legs and just accept it as normal…why?

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Like a Mighty Wave: A Maunakea Film

Saturday, February 25, 6:30 pm
Baird Auditorium, National Museum of Natural History


Director

Mikey Inouye

Region

Hawai‘i, United States

Languages

English, Hawaiian

Year

2019

Runtime

15 min.

Category

Documentary Short

On Wednesday, July 17, 2019, a heavily armed police force arrested thirty-six Native Hawaiian kūpuna peacefully protecting Maunakea from desecration. The actions from that day sparked an international outcry and brought new life to the ongoing movement for Native Hawaiians’ rights for self-determination.

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Whetū Mārama – Bright Star

Saturday, February 25, 6:30 pm
Baird Auditorium, National Museum of Natural History


Directors

Toby Mills
Aileen O’Sullivan

Region

Aotearoa New Zealand

Language

English

Year

2021

Runtime

93 min.

Category

Documentary Feature

For Māori, the waka (canoe) is the underpinning of their culture. Wakas were once made from giant trees and used in conjunction with the Māori’s intricate knowledge of the stars to map their movements around the Pacific. For 600 years, these arts were lost, until the stars realigned and this wisdom rose in the hearts of Pacific Islanders across the region. Whetū Mārama – Bright Star is the story of Sir Hekenukumai Ngaiwi Puhipi, aka Hek Busby, and his significance for Māori in rekindling their wayfinding DNA and for all people in Aotearoa New Zealander in helping them reclaim their role as traditional star voyagers.

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Night Raiders

Sunday, February 26, 2 pm
Rasmuson Theater, National Museum of the American Indian


Director

Danis Goulet

Regions

Canada, Aotearoa New Zealand

Language

Cree

Year

2021

Runtime

97 min.

Category

Dramatic Feature

The year is 2043. A military occupation controls disenfranchised cities in a dystopian, post-war North America. Children are considered property of the regime, which trains them to fight. A desperate Cree woman joins an underground band of vigilantes to infiltrate a state children’s academy and get her daughter back. A parable about the experience of the Indigenous peoples of North America, Night Raiders is a female-driven sci-fi drama about resilience, courage, and love.

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Məca

Sunday, February 26, 6:30 pm
Ring Auditorium, Hirshhorn Museum


Meca still.
Directors

Ritchie Norman Hemphill (Gwa’sala’Nakwaxda’xw)
Ryan Haché

Region

Canada

Languages

Bak̓wa̱mk̓ala, English

Year

2021

Runtime

8 min.

Category

Animation

An elder tells a story with a lesson about a mink that goes on a journey of love and heartbreak, to understand the meaning of authenticity and honesty. The mink, or Məca in the ‘Nakwaxda’xw language, is on a journey of self-discovery. Through many trials and errors, Məca learns that what he is seeking already belongs to him.

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Dreams / Vaychiletik

Sunday, February 26, 6:30 pm
Ring Auditorium, Hirshhorn Museum


Director

Juan Javier Pérez

Region

Mexico

Languages

Tzotzil, Spanish

Year

2021

Runtime

82 min.

Category

Documentary Feature

Through his dreams, José received a gift from the gods—a gift that brings consequences. Now that he is at a mature age in life, José would like to rest, but he is not allowed. Vaychiletik explores this fierce yet beautiful reality, forged from the dreams of the Maya people of Mexico.

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Directors Panel:
Representation in Film

Monday, February 21, 3:30 pm ET


The Irish poet Oscar Wilde once said, “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery that mediocrity can pay to greatness.” While that may serve as a general compliment for some, in the world of film, representation is everything. This panel brings together marginalized filmmakers to discuss the implications of misrepresentation in film. We explore what it means to have their cultures properly represented and the challenges that they have faced in the entertainment industry in order to practice their craft.

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Archival Legacies of the Yanomamö Series: Preservation, Digital Restoration, and Return

Wednesday, February 23, 11:30 am ET


This two-part roundtable considers the complicated legacies of the Yanomamö Film Series (1969–1976), a groundbreaking ethnographic media project that expanded the boundaries of documentary. Distributed by Documentary Education Resources (DER) and archived in the Smithsonian’s National Anthropological Archive, the series emerged from a collaboration between anthropologist Napoleon Chagnon (1938–2019), filmmaker Tim Asch (1932–1994), and Yanomamö communities in southern Venezuela and northern Brazil.

The collaboration resulted in 110,000 feet of film and 21 films, including some of the most celebrated ethnographic films of the period: The Feast (1970), The Ax Fight (1975), and A Man Called “Bee” (1974). But this work was not without controversy as Chagnon’s mischaracterizations of the Yanomamö as the “Fierce People” has had ongoing impacts on communities, and scholars have called into question his ethics.

The first roundtable is focused on the technical and aesthetic issues underlying the processes of preservation and digital restoration. The second panel explores the value of these films for the Yanomamö and anthropologists interested in more equitable collaborations. Acknowledging the painful legacies of anthropology, these roundtables will provoke discussions about the value of historical works and the potential for redress and corrected narratives.

This program is co-presented by Documentary Educational Resources and the National Anthropological Archives.

Restoration of the Yanomamö Film Series was graciously funded by a National Film Preservation Foundation grant and individual donors.

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Education Roundtable: Ways of Learning and Reclamation

Friday, February 25, 11 am ET


Language reclamation goes beyond language learning and daily use to reclaim relationships with ancestors, the land, and community. The films in this program represent different ways of learning, through legacy documentation, situating language in the home, youth-centered approaches, and creating new modes of expression. Carly Tex, director of the Advocates for Indigenous California Languages Survival (AICLES), led the discussion on the challenges of language reclamation in North America with Ron Corn, Jr., featured in Living Language: Menominee Language Revitalization, and Quirina Geary, a Tamien and Mutsun cultural practitioner who is learning her language through the Breath of Life approach featured in the film Chasing Voices.

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