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Ojibway brothers from Sault Ste. Marie tell tribal stories in new film

Oct 31, 2017

A new documentary film from brothers Adam and Zack Khalil tells the stories of the Ojibway tribe in their hometown of Sault Ste. Marie. They use ancient prophecies of the Ojibway to explore modern Anishnaabe culture and its challenges.

Adam Khalil talks with Stateside about his documentary film INAATE/SE/ [it shines a certain way. to a certain place/it flies. falls./]. 

Listen to the conversation above, or read highlights from the discussion below:

On experimental filmmaking

"One of the things we were really conscience of and set out to do when we made this film, was how to make an inherently Ojibway film. If you think about cinema in terms of a national lens, which is how it's understood in terms of cinema history, there's American cinema, there's Japanese cinema, there's French cinema, et cetera. We were trying to figure out what would an inherently Ojibway form of cinema look like. So, as opposed to like using the kind cliches or tropes of documentary from a sort of colonial vantage point, what would our own authored story look like? That gave us kind of carte blanche to kind of take all these different devices that we liked and not have to stick to fitting into a specific mold. It allowed us a lot of freedom to try to tell our own tribe's story in our own way."

On the Seven Fires Prophecy of the Ojibway that informs the film 

"Our tradition is an oral tradition, which means things are allowed to change and adapt. And the Seven Fires Prophecy, as I've been told and have read about it, it kind of predates and predicts contact with Europeans. And I know it, a prophecy happened like 2,000 years ago basically, so we knew what was going to happen before it happened. But, the cool thing about the Seven Fires Prophecy and the oral tradition is that it's allowed to adapt to the times. There's a western conception of history like Walter Benjamin talking about the angel of history – always moving forwards, but looking backwards. It's a very European way of thinking about history. But an Obijway way of thinking about history is that  history is a narrative that should be in service of the contemporary people at a contemporary time. It kind of gave us artistic license to play with the story as well. And it was a great structure because of that."

On the audience

"One of the strengths of the film is that we are communicating to many different audiences at the same time using the same film. I know for a fact that Ojibway audiences understand more of the film. Or there are things that kind of coded into the film that maybe a general audience wouldn't get necessarily, but we were also conscience of not wanting to hermetically seal the film and allow it to...have it be approachable."

Support for arts and culture coverage comes in part from the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs.

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