As part of HIFF's Film For Thought Program in partnership with the Hawai'i Council for the Humanities, the first screening of this film will be followed by a special extended Q&A discussion with the filmmakers led by M. Puakea Nogelmeier, Hawaiian Language Professor at the University of Hawai‘i, renowned researcher, composer and translator, director of Awaiaulu Hawaiian Literature Project, and author of Mai Pa‘a I Ka Leo: Historical Voice in Hawaiian Primary Materials, Looking Forward and Listening Back.
KEEP TALKING follows four Alaska Native’s fighting to save Kodiak Alutiiq, an endangered language spoken by less than 40 remaining Native Elders. Campers, teachers and Elders load up and journey by vans and boats to remote Afognak Island, once their homeland before they were displaced by a tsunami in 1964, to start teaching kids Alutiiq.
At the camp, Sadie, a troubled teen, is inspired to begin learning the language and dances of her ancestors. As the Elders speak, a history of shame, oppression and assimilation is revealed; U.S. run Indian boarding schools systematically beat the language out of indigenous people in the states for almost 100 years, starting in 1887 and continuing as recently as the 1980’s. “Kill the Indian, save the man” was the rallying cry uttered by Captain Richard H. Pratt as he set up one of the first boarding schools with brutal methods to “civilize” the “savages.” At this remote island camp we meet a few brave Elders defiantly speaking their language; a simple act which goes against these 100 years of systemic cruelty.The women fight to overcome historical and personal traumas to find joy and hope in the revitalization of their cultural heritage.