Kicking the Clouds (2022)

Sky Hopinka

Kicking the Clouds Sky Hopinka Ho-Chunk/Pechanga16mm > digital15 min2022

Tracing trails of Indigenous diaspora in the United States, this film is situated in Whatcom County in northern Washington State. In it, I have a conversation with my mother about a 50 year old tape of her mother and grandmother engaged in a Pechanga language lesson.

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 long-standing interest in endangered Indigenous languages (particularly the nearly extinct chinuk wawa) and the cultural memories embedded within them. – Criterion Collection

Read Sky Hopinka’s dossier Disfluencies at Three Fold.

Streaming Details

This film is available to stream globally.

Program Partners

This film is co-presented with Screen Slate.

Image credits: all artworks, stills, and portraits courtesy of the artist © Sky Hopinka.

about the artist

Sky Hopinka (Ho-Chunk/Pechanga) is a filmmaker, visual artist, poet, and curator born in Ferndale, Washington in 1984. His film and video works center around personal positions of Indigenous homeland and landscape, designs of language as containers of culture, and the play between the known and the unknowable. He received a BA from Portland State University (2012), and an MFA in Film, Video, Animation, and New Genres from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (2016). In Portland, he studied and taught chinuk wawa, a language indigenous to the Lower Columbia River Basin. Hopinka’s films, installations, calligrams, and photographs have been widely exhibited at festivals, galleries, and museums around the world, including Centre Pompidou, The Museum of Modern Art, The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, Green Gallery, Tate Modern, ImagineNATIVE Festival, Sundance Film Festival, New York Film Festival, The Whitney Biennial (2017), Toronto International Film Festival, and four previous editions of Media City Film Festival. His film Jáaji Approx. had its festival premiere at MCFF and was awarded Third Prize (2014). He is recipient of a Mary L. Nohl Fund Fellowship (2018), Radcliffe Fellowship at the Institute for Advanced Studies at Harvard (2018–2019), Sundance Art of Nonfiction Fellowship (2019), and an MCFF Chrysalis Fellowship (2019–2020) to work on post-production for his debut feature małni—towards the ocean, towards the shore (2020). He is the recipient of a Herb Alpert Award and Guggenheim and MacDowell Colony Fellowships (2020). Hopinka is co-founder of COUSIN, a collective dedicated to supporting Indigenous media artists expanding traditional definitions of the moving image. His publications Around the Edge of Encircling Lake (2018) and Perfidia (2020) are available from Green Gallery and Wendy’s Subway. The publication Sky Hopinka was recently released by Poor Farm Press (2021). His work is in private and public collections including The Museum of Modern Art, The Whitney Museum of American Art, Walker Art Center, among others. He is Assistant Professor of Film and Electronic Arts at Bard College in upstate New York.

Artist interview