Indigenous Program

Smoke Signals: Indigenous Identities in the 21st Century

Indigenous peoples, natives, aboriginals: the name may vary, and there may not even be an internationally agreed common definition, but it is undisputed that these are groups of people with historical and cultural ties to a particular territory, who are culturally distinctive, and many of whom are still highly vulnerable to exploitation, marginalization and oppression globally. Today, there are still more than 300 million indigenous peoples worldwide whose rights are breached more often than not. The selection of films in this program looks at the struggle of indigenous communities for cultural, social and political rights and their efforts to shed the traumas of a colonial past.

Vladimir Tomić's visually captivating story Unfinished Journeys takes us to the Inuits in Greenland and laments on the social and cultural consequences of the Danish government's assimilation attempts. Ivan Golovnev's Oil Field ventures to the remote corners of the Siberian taiga to the native Khanty and Nenets peoples to witness the exploitation of their ancestral lands by the oil industry. In Tea or Electricity, Jerôme le Maire follows the absurd but inevitable advent of modernization - the introduction of electricity in an isolated Berber community in the Moroccan High Atlas. And with it, the arrival of television and phone bills. Luke Griswold-Tergis's Smokin’ Fish has an adventurous-humorous take on North American native identities, with a charismatic young Tlingit businessman as his guide to the art of smoking salmon and the importance of tradition. In Sun Kissed, Adi Lavy & Maya Stark uncover a rare genetic disease in a Navajo reservation in New Mexico, and bring a novel perspective on the effects of colonization and its possible role in the development of genetic disorders. Finally, a real thriller and courtroom drama, Hans La Cour & Michael Christoffersen's Law of the Jungle brings the story of the unwavering fight of a small indigenous group in the heart of the Peruvian Amazon against multinational exploiters, corrupt police and indifferent courts.

From the Siberian taiga through the desert of New Mexico to the Amazon rainforest we witness indigenous communities struggling to preserve what is left of their environment and cultural heritage. Disheartened at times, these struggles are bravely fought. Although the 21st century sees history quietly, furtively and consistently repeating, there is hope. There are great and inspiring stories worth telling, and the least we can do is to learn about them. Smoke signals are one of the oldest forms of visual communication used to send warning messages. These documentaries wish to alert, not merely about the imminent dangers still threatening indigenous communities worldwide, but also about the power to know, voice and fight them.

Anikó Kövecsi
program curator

Indigenous rights resources:

Toldi
Nov 9, 18:15
English Subtitles & Hungarian Simultaneous Translation
Hans La Cour | Denmark | 2011 | 85min | Spanish
An eyewitness too frightened to testify is the only hope for a group of indigenous Peruvians fighting against multinational malpractice and state corruption.
Sheffield Doc Fest Green Award 2012
Toldi
Nov 10, 16:30
English Subtitles & Hungarian Simultaneous Translation
Ivan Golovnev | Russia | 2012 | 26min | Russian
Deer farm or oil refinery? Indigenous Siberians face and inevitable choice.
Toldi
Nov 8, 22:00
Hungarian Subtitles
Toldi
Nov 10, 12:30
Hungarian Subtitles
Luke Griswold-Tergis | USA | 2011 | 80min | English
A humorous take on Native Alaskan food, culture, family, history, and navigating the present.
Best Film, Montreal First Peoples Film Fest, 2012.
Toldi
Nov 10, 14:30
Hungarian Simultaneous Translation
Adi Lavy | USA | 2012 | 85min | English & Navajo
Genetic dimensions of colonization. A Navajo couple struggles to find out why a rare genetic disease is blighting their reservation.
Toldi
Nov 8, 16:15
English & Hungarian Subtitles
Cirko
Nov 9, 18:00
English & Hungarian Subtitles
Jerôme le Maire | Belgium & France & Morocco | 2012 | 93min | Arabic
With electricity granted but road building denied, Berber villagers in Morocco experience the absurdities of state development projects.
Toldi
Nov 10, 16:30
English Subtitles & Hungarian Simultaneous Translation
Vladimir Tomić | Denmark | 2012 | 43min | Danish & Greenlandic
The social and cultural consequences of the colonization of Greenland’s indigenous peoples, the Inuits.