Screening w/ Filmmaker Q&A

ᏓᏗᏬᏂᏏ / We Will Speak

North Park Theatre

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ᎤᎶᎩᎳ/Schon Duncan & Michael McDermit (Dirs), 94 minutes, USA, New York State Premiere

Director of Photography & Editor Jacob Koestler in attendance.

The Cherokee language is deeply tied to Cherokee identity; yet generations of assimilation efforts by the U.S. government and anti-Indigenous stigmas have forced the Tri-Council of Cherokee tribes to declare a State of Emergency for the language in 2019. While there are 430,000 Cherokee citizens in the three federally recognized tribes, fewer than an estimated 2,000 fluent speakers remain — the majority of whom are elderly. The covid pandemic has unfortunately hastened the course.

Language activists, artists, and the youth must now lead the charge of urgent radical revitalization efforts to help save the language from the brink of extinction.

This feature-length documentary was shot on-location in Oklahoma and North Carolina from 2019-2022; through intimate interviews, vérité footage of community gatherings, and extensive archival materials, the film explores the nuanced ways the Cherokee language is vital to maintaining a unique cultural identity and relationship with the world. The collaborative project is also meant to act as an empowering agent of hope for Indigenous voices despite enduring inequity and oppression.

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