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COLLOQUIUM: Through an Indigenous Lens

Part of the University of Richmond’s School of Arts and Sciences Contested Spaces: This Ground.

Event Details

Friday, November 22, 2019 | 9:00 AM - 12:00 PM
University of Richmond, Robins School of Business, Ukrop Auditorium
Panelists: Filmmakers Sky Hopinka, Adam Khalil, and Zack Khalil
Moderators: Monika Siebert and Molly Fair

Contemporary Indigenous filmmakers, visual artists, and curators, Sky Hopinka (Ho-Chunk/Pechanga), Adam Khalil (Ojibwe), and Zack Khalil (Ojibwe) will share their work, and engage in conversation to explore questions of Indigenous cinema as anti-ethnographic practice, of formal innovation in Indigenous cinema, and the future of Indigenous cinema and art in the context of Indigenous self-determination.

Collectively, their work has been screened and exhibited at prestigious festivals and institutions including Sundance, Toronto International Film Festival, the Museum of Modern Art, Tate Modern, Walker Art Center, Locarno Film Festival, New York Film Festival, International Film Festival Rotterdam, and the Whitney Biennial.

These and other great films by and about Native people are also featured as part of “Storytellers,” at the Pocahontas Reframed Film Festival scheduled for November 21-24 at the Byrd Theater in Richmond. For more


Sky Hopinka (Ho-Chunk/Pechanga) is an experimental filmmaker working in forms of documentary and narrative hybrids.  His video work centers around personal positions of Indigenous homeland and landscape, designs of language as containers of culture, and the play between the known and the unknowable.  

Adam Khalil (Ojibway) is a filmmaker and artist. His practice attempts to subvert traditional forms of ethnography through humor, relation, and transgression. Adam's work has been exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art, Sundance Film Festival, Walker Arts Center, e-flux, Tate Modern, New York Film Festival, the Toronto Biennial, and LACMA. 

Zack Khalil (Ojibway) is a filmmaker and artist from Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, currently based in Brooklyn, NY. His work often explores an indigenous worldview and undermines traditional forms of historical authority through the excavation of alternative histories and the use of innovative documentary forms. He recently completed a B.A. at Bard College in the Film and Electronic Arts Department.


Monika Siebert is an associate professor of English and American Studies and teaches courses in contemporary American and North American indigenous literature and film. She is the author of Indians Playing Indian: Multiculturalism and Contemporary Indigenous Art in North America (2015), American LiteraturePublic Cultureab-Original: Journal of Indigenous Studies and First Nations and First Peoples' Cultures, and Mississippi Quarterly.  

Molly Fair is the Cinematic Arts Librarian at the University of Richmond, and has taught courses on film and video preservation and curation. She researches the histories of experimental, activist, and community media movements, and has worked as a moving image archivist for independent documentary filmmakers including Albert Maysles, DeeDee Halleck, and William Greaves. She is the co-founder of Interference Archive, a cultural space in Brooklyn, NY.

Continue the Conversation

Sky Hopinka’s films will be screened at the University of Richmond International Film Series on Thursday, November 21, 2019, at 7:30pm in Jepson Hall (Room 118) and at the Pocahontas Reframed Storytellers Film Festival on Sunday, November 24, at 1:30pm (Byrd Theater).

Adam and Zack Khalil’s film INAATE’SE (2016) will be screened at the Pocahontas Reframed Storytellers Film Festival on Sunday, November 24 at 2:30pm (Byrd Theater).

This event is co-sponsored by the Pocahontas Reframed Storytellers Film Festival and the University of Richmond (Arts & Sciences Dean’s Office, Boatwright Library, Cultural Affairs Committee, American studies and film studies programs, and the English department).

Sneak Peak

Sky Hopinka: I’ll Remember You as You Were, not as What You’ll Become (excerpt)

Adam and Zack Khalil: INAATE/SE

Words from the Filmmakers

For indigenous peoples the camera is a dangerous weapon, one that has been wielded against us since the device’s inception…By relegating our identities to the past, and forcing us to authenticate ourselves through this past, our existence as contemporary individuals living in a colonized land is denied. It is in this sense that ethnography confines indigenous agency.

The anthropologist's encapsulating gaze ignores the fact that for indigenous communities tradition is not an immutable set of truths handed down by revelation, but a set of ever-evolving social practices whose continuity cannot be repaired by preservation, only elaborated through struggle, and finally achieved under conditions of genuine self-­determination.

  --Adam Khalil and Zack Khalil, from Anti-Ethnography

…in the face of and regardless of colonial history and outdated traditions of anthropology and ethnography…, [t]hey make space for poetry, for beauty, for movement between cosmological and visceral worlds, sometimes blurring the lines between both. The powwow people and the filmmakers; they claim what was always theirs, and celebrate what was never lost.

--Sky Hopinka, from What Was Always Yours and Never Lost