Mother Tongue Film Festival: Finding Balance – Memory & Renewal

Friday, February 23, 2024 | 4:00 p.m.

$0 | Friedman Family Auditorium

Planet Word is proud to host the Smithsonian Institution’s Mother Tongue Film Festival celebrating cultural and linguistic diversity by showcasing films and filmmakers from around the world, highlighting the crucial role languages play in our daily lives.

This year’s theme is Finding Balance. Where and how do we find balance? To create balance is to connect the many branches of our existence, and to connect is to reach an enduring harmony. In 2024, the Mother Tongue Film Festival will showcase films that record personal journeys and explore the drive to find balance and harmony within our world, communities, families, and selves.

In this program, you are invited on a poignant journey through identify and cultural revival. These films paint a vivid portrait of the struggles and triumphs in reclaiming Indigenous languages. Grape Soda in the Parking Lot and ᏓᏗᏬᏂᏏ (We Will Speak) each uniquely testifies to the resilience of the human spirit in the face of erasure, highlighting the vital role language plays in connecting us to our past, present, and future. Join us for an evening screening that reflects on and celebrates the power of memory and words to create change.

Grape Soda in the Parking Lot
Megan Kyak-Monteith (Inuk), Taqralik Partridge (Inuk) // Canada // English, French, Inuktitut // 2023, 8 min., Animation
What if every language that had been lost to English — every word, every syllable — grew up out of the ground in flowers? The Scottish Gaelic of Taqralik Partridge’s grandmother and the Inuktitut of her father unfold in memories of her family, of pain, and of love. (Runtime: 8 minutes)

ᏓᏗᏬᏂᏏ (We Will Speak)
ᎤᎶᎩᎳ/Schon Duncan, Michael McDermit // (Regions) Oklahoma and North Carolina, United States // (Languages) Cherokee, English // 2023 // 94 minutes // Documentary
The Cherokee language is deeply tied to Cherokee identity, yet generations of assimilation efforts by the U.S. government and anti-Indigenous stigmas have forced the Tri-Council of Cherokee tribes to declare a state of emergency for the language in 2019. While there are 430,000 Cherokee citizens in the three federally recognized tribes, fewer than an estimated 1,500 fluent speakers remain — the majority of whom are elderly. The COVID pandemic has unfortunately hastened the course. Language activists, artists, and youth now lead efforts to use and hear Cherokee again in daily life. (Runtime: 94 minutes)