Epsilon Spires presents lush Chinook documentary

BRATTLEBORO — Sky Hopinka's new film, maɬni - towards the ocean, towards the shore (2020), will begin screening in Epsilon Spires Virtual Cinema on Friday, April 9. A viewing link can be found at

The film (whose title is pronounced “moth-nee”) centers on Chinookan cosmology and the unfolding life transitions of its subjects, Sweetwater Sahme and Jordan Mercier.

As described in a news release: “Sweetwater is pregnant and Jordan is awaiting the imminent birth of his second child. From these critical junctures they open their lives to the film, contemplating ruptures in time and generational renewal within the distinct concerns of contemporary Indigenous experience.

“Set into their stories is a retelling of the Chinookan origin-of-death myth of Lilu and T'ala'as, wherein two originary beings confront the circular form of afterlife, rebirth, and the place in between.

“The film dances in and out the threshold between reckoning and expectancy, and follows Sweetwater and Jordan through the lush beauty of the Pacific Northwest, weaving through the intimacy of domestic spaces into a wider experience of finding home within nature.

“Opening with a view to the ocean, water moves throughout the film, transforming in continuity between rain, river, and ocean the element is placed in parallel to the transits of life, death, and legacy explored in the film. Hopinka lyrically layers the sounds of water over scenes of community and adjoins voiced narration to images of lapping waves.”

The film is structured from within an indigenous worldview where the natural and human worlds are holistically enmeshed.

Addressing its non-linear time structure, Hopinka said in a new release that “places are cut up and separated based on time and space, and it becomes more about a circular sort of approach to time where things overlap. I think that is the relationship to my ancestors and to people in my past where there is still a presence to acknowledge.”

Narrated in both Chinuk Wawa and English, maɬni expands the viewer's sense of place to both language and legacy. Hopinka has said that filmmaking has allowed him “to see our language in an unspectacular way, where it's just the way that we talk.”

For more information about the film, visit

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