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  • Writer's pictureGEM LAB

VISIONS: Sky Hopinka - American Traditional War Songs + ​​What Was Always Yours and Never Lost

VISIONS: Sky Hopinka - American Traditional War Songs + ​​What Was Always Yours and Never Lost

8pm, May 30&31, 2018

la lumière collective - 7080, rue Alexandra, #506, Montréal (*7$ for tickets at entrance)

*This event is in collaboration with Montreal First Peoples Festival ( and co-present with the GEM lab. For event details, please visit or

Filmmaker bio

Sky Hopinka is a Ho-Chunk Nation national and descendent of the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians. He was born and raised in Ferndale, Washington and spent a number of years in Palm Springs and Riverside, California, and Portland, Oregon and is currently based out of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. In Portland he studied and taught chinuk wawa, a language indigenous to the Lower Columbia River Basin. His work centers around personal positions of homeland and landscape, designs of language and the facets of culture contained within. He received his BA from Portland State University in Liberal Arts and his MFA in Film, Video, Animation, and New Genres from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. His work has played at various festivals including ImagineNATIVE Media + Arts Festival, Images Festival, Courtisane Festival, Ann Arbor Film Festival, American Indian Film Festival, Sundance Film Festival, Antimatter Film Festival, Chicago Underground Film Festival, FLEXfest, and the LA Film Festival. Hopinka was awarded jury prizes at the Milwaukee Underground Film Festival, the More with Less Award at the 2016 Images Festival, the Tom Berman Award for Most Promising Filmmaker at the 54th Ann Arbor Film Festival, and 3rd Prize at the 2015 Media City Film Festival.



Visions of an Island ​2016 | sound | col. | HD | 15mins

An Unangam Tunuu elder describes cliffs and summits, drifting birds, and deserted shores. A group of students and teachers play and invent games revitalizing their language. A visitor wanders in a quixotic chronicling of earthly and supernal terrain. These visions offer glimpses of an island in the center of the Bering Sea.​

wawa ​2014 | sound | col. | HD | 6mins

Featuring speakers of chinuk wawa, an Indigenous language from the Pacific Northwest, wawa begins slowly, patterning various forms of documentary and ethnography. Quickly, the patterns tangle and become confused and commingled, while translating and transmuting ideas of cultural identity, language, and history.

Venite et Loquamur ​2015 | sound | b&w | HD | 11mins

A group of students and teachers gather in an historical mansion in the woods of West Virginia for a week-long retreat in spoken Latin.

Anti-Objects, or Space Without Path or Boundary ​2017 | sound | col. | HD | 13mins

"The individual is not an autonomous, solitary object but a thing of uncertain extent, with ambiguous boundaries. So too is matter, which loses much of its allure the moment it is reduced to an object, shorn of its viscosity, pressure and density. Both subject and matter resist their reduction into objects. Everything is interconnected and intertwined." - Kengo Kuma The title of this video, taken from the texts of the architect Kengo Kuma, suggests a way of looking at everything as "interconnected and intertwined", as are the historical and the present, the tool and the artifact. Images and representations of two structures in the Portland Metropolitan Area that have direct and complicated connections to the Chinookan people who inhabit(ed) the land are woven with audio tapes of one of the last speakers of the Chinookan creole, chinuk wawa. These localities of matter resist in their reduction into objects, and call anew for space and time given to wandering as a deliberate act and the empowerment of shared utility.

I'll Remember You as You Were, Not as What You'll Become ​2016 | sound | col. | HD | 13mins

An elegy to Diane Burns on the shapes of mortality and being, and the forms the transcendent spirit takes while descending upon landscapes of life and death. A place for new mythologies to syncopate with deterritorialized movement and song, reifying old routes of reincarnation. Where resignation gives hope for another opportunity, another form, for a return to the vicissitudes of the living and all their refractions.

Dislocation Blues ​2017 | sound | col. | HD | 17mins

An incomplete and imperfect portrait of reflections from Standing Rock. Cleo Keahna recounts his experiences entering, being at, and leaving the camp and the difficulties and the reluctance in looking back with a clear and critical eye. Terry Running Wild describes what his camp is like, and what he hopes it will become.


Come Here | Glenda Ortiz ​2017 | sound | col. | HD | 5mins

Izcóatl | Colectivo Los ingrávidos ​2014 | sound | col. | 35mm to HD | 5mins

The scales of the snake refract a trance and an invocation. ​In the epicenter, the pyramids join the Izcóatl´s battle, the “Obsidian Serpent" propagates an exhortation: against the "flower war" all the dances.

Just Dandy | Thirza Cuthand ​2013 | sound | col. | HD | 8mins

Invited to speak at an Indigenous Revolutionary Meeting, the narrator describes an intimate encounter with an Evil Colonizing Queen which leads to Turtle Island's contraction of an invasive European flora.

Toré | Joāo Vieira Torres ​2015 | sound | col. | HD | 15mins

In an aboriginal community in Brazil, the Xucuru Kariri, a child watches Fantasia on a blurry television set. The camera explores his face, his home, his village, the movements of the inhabitants and the lush surroundings. The child is interrupted to participate in a ritual: what is going through his mind as he switches from a fictional dance to a real one? At the intersection of worlds alien to each other, images, sounds and cultures meet in a magical moment of transcendence.

Impressions for a light & sound machine | Colectivo Los ingrávidos ​2014 | sound | col. | 16mm to HD | 7mins

A woman raises her voice and gives a painful and endless speech, that with time becomes even more overwhelming, because her words are heartbreaking and permanent impressions in the collective memory that stab with words an old Mexican film, a celluloid that is torn apart until its disappearance.

The History of the Luiseño People | James Luna ​1993 | sound | col. | HD | 27mins

Based on his ever-changing performance Indian Tails, this video features Luna sitting alone in his darkened room in front of the TV on Christmas Eve. As he sits, he calls friends, family and ex-lovers, excusing himself from all their celebrations.

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