Short Films by Sky Hopinka

Short Films by Sky Hopinka

12 Episodes

Transcendent meditations on language, landscape, and myth, the ethnopoetic works of Sky Hopinka—a member of the Ho-Chunk Nation and descendent of the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians—explode the traditions of ethnographic filmmaking and reclaim the form as a vehicle for ecstatic personal expression. Through an intricate layering of words and images, Hopinka creates dense, hallucinatory audiovisual collages that reflect his longstanding interest in endangered Indigenous languages (particularly the nearly extinct chinuk wawa) and the cultural memories embedded within them. Through both his filmmaking and his work with the COUSIN Collective, which supports fellow Native filmmakers, Hopinka has emerged as a vital force in bringing the contemporary Indigenous experience to the screen.

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Short Films by Sky Hopinka
  • Sky Hopinka Interview

    Episode 1

    This interview with filmmaker Sky Hopinka was recorded in 2020.

  • Kunįkága Remembers Red Banks, Kunįkága Remembers the Welcome Song

    Episode 2

    Directed by Sky Hopinka • 2014 • United States

    Sky Hopinka traverses the personal memories embedded within the landscape of Red Banks, a precontact Ho-Chunk village site near present-day Green Bay, Wisconsin, that was also where European settler Jean Nicolet made his landing in 1634.

  • wawa
    Episode 3


    Episode 3

    Directed by Sky Hopinka • 2014 • United States

    What begins as a documentary featuring speakers of chinuk wawa, an Indigenous language from the Pacific Northwest, becomes increasingly tangled as language patterns commingle and ideas of history and cultural identity are transmuted.

  • Jáaji Approx.

    Episode 4

    Directed by Sky Hopinka • 2015 • United States

    Sky Hopinka combines audio recordings of his father with increasingly abstract video images of the landscapes they separately traversed. “Jáaji” is a near translation for directly addressing a father in the Hočak language.

  • Venite et Loquamur

    Episode 5

    Directed by Sky Hopinka • 2015 • United States

    A group of students and teachers gather in a historic mansion in the West Virginia woods for a weeklong retreat in spoken Latin.

  • Visions of an Island

    Episode 6

    Directed by Sky Hopinka • 2016 • United States

    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...

  • I’ll Remember You as You Were, Not as What You’ll Become

    Episode 7

    Directed by Sky Hopinka • 2016 • United States

    An elegy for Native poet Diane Burns and a transcendent vision of the forms the spirit takes while descending upon landscapes of life and death.

  • Dislocation Blues

    Episode 8

    Directed by Sky Hopinka • 2017 • United States

    Reflections from Standing Rock: Cleo Keahna recounts his experiences entering, being at, and leaving the camp and the difficulties of looking back with a clear and critical eye. Terry Running Wild describes what his camp is like and what he hopes it...

  • Anti-Objects, or Space Without Path or Boundary

    Episode 9

    Directed by Sky Hopinka • 2017 • United States

    Taking its title from the texts of architect Kengo Kuma, this experimental video work suggests a way of looking at everything as “interconnected and intertwined.” Images and representations of two structures in the Portland metropolitan area that ha...

  • Fainting Spells

    Episode 10

    Directed by Sky Hopinka • 2018 • United States

    Told through recollections of youth, learning, lore, and departure, this is an imagined myth for the Xąwįska, or the Indian Pipe Plant, used by the Ho-Chunk to revive those who have fainted.

  • When you’re lost in the rain

    Episode 11

    Directed by Sky Hopinka • 2018 • United States

    Drawing from Bob Dylan’s song “Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues,” this video work by Sky Hopinka overlays layers of experiences circling loss and longing with images of landscapes and movement. In the song, a stranger’s listlessness and exhaustion are wo...

  • Lore
    Episode 12


    Episode 12

    Directed by Sky Hopinka • 2019 • United States

    Images of landscapes and the filmmaker’s friends are cut, fragmented, and reassembled on an overhead projector as hands guide their construction and a voice tells a story about a not-too-distant past in this diaphanous pastiche of rumination, reprod...