“It’s the trickster element that exists throughout Ojibway storytelling and history, engaging both the sacred and the profane, turning things upside down and looking at them from a fresh perspective.”
The Ojibway are the fourth largest Native American tribe in a swath of country spread across both Canada and the United States. A once powerful and bountiful nation, the Ojibway are known for their sacred birch bark scrolls—legendary documents that contain prophecies along with the group’s history, songs, maps, memories, and stories. Raised in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and currently making their home in New York, Ojibway filmmakers Adam and Zack Khalil (twenty-seven and twenty-four years old respectively) have been working on their latest project for several years. And it’s one they started with their mother, an indigenous scholar, in their hometown of Sault Ste. Marie. Carrying on her legacy, they posit that the history of an oppressed people can be rescued from complete extinction by reclaiming their own narratives from the archives and museums that would have their people bound, gagged, and confined to the past.
Ultimately a deeply personal quest, their film cleverly and passionately opens up an arsenal of archival imagery, interviews, animations, performances, and rapid-fire, poetic cut-ups to make a case for the Ojibway to be their own storytellers once again. Having done shorter work both separately and collaboratively, INAATE/SE/ [it shines a certain way. to a certain place/it flies. falls./] is their first feature-length work. Most of their projects to date have been video installations that sculpt moving image and sound to create bespoke landscapes of the Ojibway experience. The first iteration of this work was as a looping, multi-channel installation with various objects arranged around it, but as a film it stands on its own as an artful and brilliant collage, expressing hope, pain, despair, and the trickster humor that is so evocative of its people.
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