Smithsonian Presents Third Annual Mother Tongue Film Festival

February 16, 2018
News Release

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Three women dancers in traditional dress

The Smithsonian’s Recovering Voices Initiative will present films from across the globe on the occasion of its third annual Mother Tongue Film Festival. The four-day festival will open on United Nations Mother Language Day, Wednesday, Feb. 21, and will feature a curated selection of films from communities around the world. The program includes a variety of styles ranging from narrative to documentary and brings to light the value of language use and revitalization in today’s increasingly globalized world.

The festival runs through Saturday, Feb. 24. Screenings will take place at multiple locations across the Smithsonian, and a complete listing of screenings, including times and locations, is available at recoveringvoices.si.edu. Doors will open approximately 30 minutes before each show. All screenings are free and open to the public.

The festival begins with an opening reception at 5 p.m. Feb. 21 in the National Museum of American Indian’s Potomac Atrium. Highlights of the festival include:

  • A screening of El Tigre y el Grillo, Ka Duu and Niuygaa Yugaa (Keep Talking) Wednesday, Feb. 21, at 7 p.m. in the National Museum of the American Indian’s Rasmuson Theater. Keep Talking, an official selection of the Vancouver International Film Festival in 2017, tells the story of four Alaska Native women and their efforts to save the endangered language Kodiak Alutiiq. A discussion with visiting filmmakers follows.
  • A screening of The Wolf Dance with Ted Mayac Sr., Aroha Bridge: Radical Bro, El Viento and Out of State Thursday, Feb. 22, at 7 p.m. in the National Museum of Natural History’s Q?ruis Theater. Out of State tells the story of two native Hawaiians who, while incarcerated in a private prison in Arizona, discover their indigenous traditions from a fellow inmate. The film was an official selection of the LA Film Festival, the Indigenous Showcase and the San Diego Asian Film Festival in 2017. A discussion with visiting filmmakers follows.
  • The “Language Rights Shorts Program” takes place Friday, Feb. 23, at 1 p.m. in the National Museum of the American Indian’s Rasmuson Theater. The films to be screened are Tarinakusun: Quechua in Seattle, Karihwanaron: Precious Things, Aviliaq: Entwined, Mother Tongue, TIFA and Anyone Like Me. A discussion with visiting filmmakers follows.
  • The festival concludes Saturday, Feb. 24, with a screening of La Bruja and Zerzura in the Freer Gallery of Art’s Meyer Auditorium. Zerzura, a feature-length film shot on location in the Sahara, follows a young man from Niger who leaves his home to search for an enchanted oasis. A discussion with visiting filmmakers follows.  

The Mother Tongue Film Festival is a collaboration between Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, the National Museum of the American Indian and the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage. Funding support for the Mother Tongue Film Festival has been provided by these three partners, with additional support from the Smithsonian Artic Studies Center, the Mexican Cultural Institute and the New Zealand Embassy. This program has also received federal support from the Latino Initiatives Pool, administered by the Smithsonian Latino Center. Additional support is from the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art, the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center and the Smithsonian’s Freer Gallery of Art.

About Recovering Voices

Recovering Voices is an initiative of the Smithsonian Institution founded in response to the global crisis of cultural knowledge and language loss. It works with communities and other institutions to address issues of indigenous language and knowledge diversity and sustainability. Recovering Voices is a collaboration between staff at the National Museum of Natural History, the National Museum of the American Indian and the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage.

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SI-136-2018