Powwow People– the second feature-length documentary by artist and filmmaker Sky Hopinka (Ho-Chunk/Pechanga) – is a cinematic invitation into the world of contemporary Native American powwow culture.
Told through Hopinka’s distinct artistic style and lens of personal lived experience, the film is a meditation on the nebulous places of community and survivance that are powwows, poetically depicting Native American singers and dancers as they live their lives, maintain their cultural traditions, and prepare for an upcoming powwow; one organized, hosted, and documented through the production of this film.
Sky Hopinka (Ho-Chunk Nation/Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians) was born and raised in Ferndale, Washington and spent a number of years in Palm Springs and Riverside, California, Portland, Oregon, and Milwaukee, Wisconsin. In Portland he studied and taught chinuk wawa, a language indigenous to the Lower Columbia River Basin. His video, photo, and text work centers around personal positions of Indigenous homeland and landscape, designs of language as containers of culture expressed through personal, documentary, and non fiction forms of media.
His work has played at various festivals including Sundance, Toronto International Film Festival, Ann Arbor, Courtisane Festival, Punto de Vista, and the New York Film Festival. His work was a part of the 2017 Whitney Biennial, the 2018 FRONT Triennial and Prospect.5 in 2021. He was a guest curator at the 2019 Whitney Biennial and participated in Cosmopolis #2 at the Centre Pompidou. He has had a solo exhibition at the Center for Curatorial Studies, Bard College, in 2020 and in 2022 at LUMA in Arles, France. He was a fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University in 2018- 2019, a Sundance Art of Nonfiction Fellow for 2019, an Art Matters Fellow in 2019, a recipient of a 2020 Alpert Award for Film/Video, a 2020 Guggenheim Fellow, and was a 2021 Forge Project Fellow. He received the 2022 Infinity Award in Art from the International Center of Photography, and is a 2022 MacArther Fellow.
Consulting Producers: Karin Chien, Joslyn Barnes and Maya E. Rudolph of Louverture Films
Additional Support From: Just Films - Ford Foundation & Sundance Documentary Film Program