Adam Piron & Adam Khalil


Adam Piron (Kiowa/Mohawk) is a filmmaker and curator born in Columbia, South Carolina, and raised in Phoenix, Arizona. His practice in analogue film and digital formats is deeply informed by his Indigenous heritage and an extensive knowledge of contemporary and historical cinema. He received a BA in Cinematography and Film/Video Production from the University of California (2008) and an MBA in Design Strategy from California College of the Arts (2015).  His films Gutk’odau (2019) and Halpate (2020), among others, have been exhibited at venues around the world, including the Seattle International Film Festival, DOXA Documentary Film Festival, True/False Film Festival, Camden International Film Festival, and San Francisco International Film Festival, as well as online at the New Yorker. He is associate director of Sundance Institute’s Indigenous Program, a member of Sundance Film Festival’s Short Film Programming Team, and has worked as a programmer for AFI FEST,  LA Film Festival, and imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival. He was film curator at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (2018–2020) and currently serves on the board of trustees and programming committee of the Flaherty. He is a member of the editorial advisory board for SEEN, a journal of film and visual culture focused on Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities, published by BlackStar Projects. Piron is co-founder and co-director of COUSIN, a collective supporting Indigenous artists pushing boundaries of the moving image, together with Sky Hopinka, Adam Khalil, and Alexandra Lazarowich. He lives and works in Los Angeles, California. 
Adam Khalil (Ojibwe) is a filmmaker, artist, and curator from Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. He is a member of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians. His practice attempts to subvert traditional forms of ethnography through humor, relation, and transgression, centering Indigenous narrative through the use of innovative nonfiction. He received a BA in Film and Electronic Art from Bard College (2011), and worked as an archivist for the Smithsonian Institution to activate the film and video collection at the National Museum of the American Indian. His work has been exhibited at festivals, museums, and galleries around the world, including the Museum of Modern Art, Sundance Film Festival, Walker Arts Center, Tate Modern, HKW, Lincoln Center, Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, Anthology Film Archive, International Film Festival Rotterdam, Berkeley Art Museum & Pacific Film Archive, the Whitney Biennial (2019), e-flux, Microscope Gallery, and VDrome, among many others. He is a core contributor to New Red Order (NRO), and co-founder and co-director of COUSIN, together with Sky Hopinka, Adam Piron, and Alexandra Lazarowich. He is the recipient of various fellowships, grants, and awards, including the Herb Alpert Award (2021), Sundance Art of Nonfiction (2017), a Jerome Foundation Fellowship (2019–20), a Creative Capital Award, a UnionDocs Collaborative Fellowship, and the Gates Millennium Scholarship. He lives and works in New York. 

ONLINE SCREENING DATES: January 9 – January 30, 2023

FILMS IN THIS PROGRAM: Halpate, 14 min, 2020
This series is co-selected and presented with COUSIN collective and is generously funded by a Digital Now grant from the Canada Council for the Arts.

Halpate, 14 min, 2020

Considered a staple of Florida tourism, alligator wrestling has been performed by members of the Seminole Tribe for over a century. As the practice has changed over the years, Halpate profiles the hazards and history of the spectacle through the words of the tribe's alligator wrestlers themselves and what it has meant to their people’s survival.

The Florida Seminoles are widely known as “the unconquered.” They are the only Native American tribe never to have signed a peace treaty with the United States government, with which they fought three separate wars in the nineteenth century. Throughout that period, they were pushed deeper and deeper into the Everglades. In new, inhospitable territory, they started hunting alligators for sustenance. Because alligator meat spoils quickly, especially in South Florida’s climate, hunters would have to capture the animals and transport them live to their villages before slaughter. The story goes that, as highways and other infrastructure began to encroach on the swamplands, white residents and visitors began spotting Seminoles hunting gators from the road. Some started throwing tips out of their cars, believing that the sight was for their benefit. The spectacle of Native hunters “wrestling” alligators was born.

Halpate, co-directed by the Native American filmmakers Adam Khalil and Adam Piron, describes how white Floridians were the first to capitalize on it. Some constructed Native “villages” and camps and hired Seminoles—for “pennies,” as Holt says—to populate them and produce traditional crafts for white tourists. They also performed live gator-wrestling shows, which grew in popularity throughout the 1930s and ’40s. – Murat Oztaskin

Read the full article about Halpate in the New Yorker.  

Watch an interview with Adam Khalil discussing his practice on Louisiana Channel. 

Watch an interview with Adam Piron discussing his program Aspect Ratio on TIFF Originals. 

All stills, photographs, and artwork courtesy © Adam Piron and Adam Khalil. Screening co-presented with Canyon Cinema.