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Poster for ᏓᏗᏬᏂᏏ (We Will Speak)
Watch trailer for ᏓᏗᏬᏂᏏ (We Will Speak) Watch trailer

ᏓᏗᏬᏂᏏ (We Will Speak)

Opens on April 3

Director: Michael McDermit, ᎤᎶᎩᎳ / Schon Duncan Run Time: 94 min. Release Year: 2023

Q&A with co-director Michael McDermit following the screening!

The Cherokee language is deeply tied to Cherokee identity; yet generations of assimilation efforts by the U.S. government and anti-Indigenous stigmas have forced the Tri-Council of Cherokee tribes to declare a State of Emergency for the language in 2019. While there are 430,000 Cherokee citizens in the three federally recognized tribes, fewer than an estimated 1,500 fluent speakers remain—the majority of whom are elderly. The covid pandemic has unfortunately hastened the course. Language activists, artists, and the youth must now lead the charge of urgent radical revitalization efforts to help save the language from the brink of extinction.

This feature-length documentary was shot on-location in Oklahoma and North Carolina throughout 2019-2022; through intimate interviews, vérité footage of community gatherings, and extensive archival materials, the film explores the nuanced ways the Cherokee language is vital to maintaining a unique cultural identity and relationship with the world. The collaborative project is also meant to act as an empowering agent of hope for Indigenous voices despite enduring inequity and oppression.

Michael McDermit makes and produces documentary films, books and other projects under a small independent creative imprint, Blurry Pictures. BP documentaries have enjoyed fruitful film festival runs at the Atlanta Film Festival, Big Sky Documentary Film Festival, Provincetown International Film Festival, Cleveland International Film Festival, Dallas International Film Festival, and the RiverRun International Film Festival, among others. BP film STRAWBERRY FOREVER, about McDermit’s father’s struggle with aphasia, took home the Audience Choice Award at the 2021 disABILITY Film Festival. McDermit earned an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Oregon. In addition to filmmaking, he teaches English and Writing to underserved college students in South Los Angeles.


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