Ho-Chunk filmmaker lectures at UW-Madison

By Marlon WhiteEagle

Ho-Chunk filmmaker Sky Hopinka gave a lecture at UW-Madison as part of the Center for the Humanities.
Hopinka was invited by Art Department for a visiting artist colloquium.
“I was asked by Rob Lundberg and Alex Lakind to speak as a part of their Terra Incognita series,” Hopinka said.
The event was well attended by UW art students at the Conrad A. Elvehjem Building on the UW campus on Wednesday, March 7 from 5 pm to 6:15 pm. The lecture was free and open to the public.
Hopinka is currently teaching film production classes at both the University of Illinois-Chicago and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
“I’m an adjunct lecturer at both universities,” Hopinka said.
The transition from filmmaking to teaching has its difference, he said.
“It’s been a good transition.  There are a lot of differences between going from teaching to filmmaking, and back again,” Hopinka said.
“But fundamentally it’s about communication and making space for all voices and perspectives to be heard and respected.”
Hopinka has studied and taught chinuk wawa, a language indigenous to the Lower Columbia River Basin. His work focuses on his position of homeland and the landscape.  He also focuses on language, and culture contained within.
During his lecture, Hopinka shared part of his films to illustrate his use of landscapes, language and culture.
He also fielded questions from the audience.
“There were good questions asked at the screening - the questions about how Indigenous languages live in the present and relate to the past are always evocative,” Hopinka said.
“And trying to contextualize how my work fits within the larger history of cinema is always a challenge, but a good challenge.”
Hopinka’s films, “Jaaji Approx.” (2016) and “Visions of an Island” (2017), were selected by the Sundance Film Festival.
His latest film, “Dislocation Blues,” is about reflections on Standing Rock.
Hopinka says it's exciting to try and find ways to teach what I know about filmmaking.
It’s exciting to engage with the students and meet their thinking.  There's a lot of room for creativity with film and teaching film,” Hopinka said.
“So finding opportunities to teach is really generative for me and makes me think about my work in new ways.”