Smithsonian's Mother Tongue Film Festival

Thursday, May 6, 2021

Washington, DC 20001


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Schedule of Events

Yaõkwá – Image and Memory

Director: Vincent Carelli
Runtime: 22 min.
In 1995, a team of filmmakers and anthropologists recorded ceremonies and daily life with the Enawenê-Nawê of the state of Mato Grosso, in central Brazil. Twenty-five years later, more than 300 hours of images of the Yaõkwá ritual, a seven-month festivity recognized as Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO, were cataloged and edited by the Vídeo nas Aldeias collective with the participation of the Enawenê-Nawê community. This film documents the arrival of these precious images back to the villages, reintroducing the history of the ceremony to a new generation.

Nixíí (Bastón de mando)

Director: José Luis Matías (Nahua)
Runtime: 38 min.
In the Me'phaa community of Apetzuca, in the municipality of Acatepec, Guerrero, in southwestern Mexico, newly elected leaders receive their staffs of authority in a public ceremony, followed by a series of closed rituals. They are purified by smudging, drinking chile soup, fasting, and ceremonies guided by the spiritual authorities, elders who make offerings to help them carry out their responsibilities and lead well.

Mujeres Espíritu Spirit Women

Director: Francisco Huichaqueo (Mapuche)
Runtime: 43 min.
Mapuche director Francisco Huichaqueo paints a collective portrait of five women united by spirituality and poetry. This filmic journey is told through the words of Indigenous women from different territories, joined by the sonority of their mother tongues, which forms a braid that bonds them forever.

Kawsakunchik Our Resistance

Directors: Alberto Muenala and Frida Muenala
Runtime: 10 min.
No longer subjected to violence and exploitation, former workers of the San Pedro textile mill in highland Ecuador share their stories and path toward collective ownership of their factory—now transformed into a museum to celebrate their Kichwa language and culture.

The Eighth Province

Director: Kyle Baker
Runtime: 20 min.
In an effort to retain their language and culture, Basque immigrants in Bakersfield, California, have worked hard to sustain their language and pass down musical traditions through community efforts. However, approaches to cultural identity and tradition vary across generations.

Wiñaypacha Eternity

Director: Óscar Catacora (Aymara)
Runtime: 86 min.

Willka and Phaxsi, an eldery couple living in a remote part of the Peruvian Andes, stand together and take on the challenges that each day presents, awaiting the return of their long-absent son. This beautifully shot and sometimes heart-wrenching story is the first Peruvian feature film to be made completely in the Aymara language.

The Forbidden Strings

Director: Hasan Noori
Runtime: 71 min.
Soori, Hakim, Akbar, and Mohammed have a collective dream: to travel from Iran to their parents' homeland of Afghanistan and perform at their first rock concert. Working as migrant laborers during the day, the group practices in a studio away from their families at night. Throughout their journey, the four young band members face the complicated nature of making politically minded music that reflects their lived reality as migrants from Afghanistan.

Haka Puai te Kainga Eating Up Easter

Director: Sergio M. Rapu (Rapa Nui)
Runtime: 77 min.
Rapa Nui filmmaker Sergio Rapu explores the negative effects of tourism on his home island. Crafted as a story to pass down to his newborn son, Rapu intertwines the history of the island with the stories of four islanders. In their own voices, they reveal the reality of modern life and the actions they are taking to preserve their culture and environment amid rapid development.


Directors: Amado Villafaña Chaparro (Arahuaco), Sebastian Gomez Ruiz
Runtime: 16 min.
As the sun rises on an Arahuac village in northern Colombia, the villagers begin their day. Arhuaco filmmaker Amado Vilafaña Chaparro, the film's co-director, shares his thoughts on anthropologists like Gerardo Reichel-Dolmatoff and Robert Gardner, and the (mis)representations they produce. Ultimately, he, and this film, affirm the power Indigenous people can seize by taking up the camera themselves— becoming authors of their image and authors of knowledge.

Sky Aelans

Directors: Georgianna Lepping, Jeremy Gwao, Regina Lepping, Zahiyd Namo, Junior Patrick Makau, Manner Le?vo, Neil Nuia, Daniel Kakadi, Edward Manuga
Runtime: 6 min.
Sacred lands around the world have faced severe destruction, seen the extinction of plants and animals, and felt the displacement of Indigenous peoples. All too aware of this dangerous fate, Indigenous communities of the Solomon Islands have worked to protect and prevent their sacred forests, Sky Aelans, from facing exploitation.

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