MAŁNI – TOWARDS THE OCEAN, TOWARDS THE SHORE | Courtesy of Sundance Institute

Sky Hopinka presents a poetic reflection on indigenous language, myths, and the spirit world.

Festival Section:
New Frontier

Sundance Program Description:

A poetic experimental documentary circling the origin of the death myth from the Chinookan people in the Pacific Northwest, MAŁNI – TOWARDS THE OCEAN, TOWARDS THE SHORE follows two people as they wander through their surrounding nature, the spirit world, and something much deeper inside.

After multiple short films at the Festival, filmmaker Sky Hopinka returns with his first feature-length film, made in his signature style. With luscious imagery and a seducing score, Hopinka takes us on a journey through language and belief. We follow Sweetwater Sahme and Jordan Mercier on their separate paths, contemplating their afterlife, rebirth, and death. A beautiful lesson subtly arises about humanity’s place on this and other worlds, deceptively small and profoundly deep.

As with Hopinka’s shorts, MAŁNI is stunning on the big screen in both cinematography and idea. His films become more beautiful with his artistic use of language, both spoken and written. The intimate film unfolds in ourselves to something so large you’ll be thinking (and dreaming) about it long after.

Some Background:


  • Sky Hopinka
    Past Sundance docs:

    VISIONS OF AN ISLAND (2017, short)
    JÁAJI APPROX. (2016, short)

    Hopinka also made the Sundance alumni fiction short FAINTING SPELLS. He has been both a Sundance Institute Indigenous Film Opportunity and Art of Non-Fiction fellow.

Executive Producer:

  • Steve Holmgren
    Past Sundance docs:

    THE VIOLENCE OF A CIVILIZATION WITHOUT SECRETS (2018, short, executive producer)

    Holmgren is an entertainment attorney and producer. He previously was a longtime programmer at Brooklyn’s Union Docs. Holmgren is also executive produced fellow 2020 Sundance documentary feature WHIRLYBIRD, in the US Documentary Competition, and produced Sundance alumni fiction projects DEEP ASTRONOMY AND THE ROMANTIC SCIENCES and I USED TO BE DARKER.

Why You Should Watch:
As in his previous work, Hopinka brings a distinctive focus on myth and language in the experiences of modern indigenous people. His two subjects, Sweetwater and Jordan, relate their own connections with rituals, traditions, and the spirit world, speaking primarily in the chinuk wawa language.

More Info:
For Sundance screening dates and times, click the film title in the first paragraph.

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Filed under Documentary, Film, Film Festivals, Recommendations, Sundance

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