On Friday June 17, 7-9PM the Tahoe Underground Film Festival (TUFF) will host a screening and conversations with filmmaker Sky Hopinka at the Tahoe Art Haus and Cinema (475 N. Lake Blvd. Tahoe City, CA). 

On Friday, June 17th, Sky Hopinka will bring a program of moving image work including his latest Jáaji Approx. which just screened at Sundance 2015.

Jáaji Approx. is a strangely moving film, strung together from moments of life and a son’s recordings of his father’s stories and songs. Western landscapes blend with the roadside and the coast as Hopinka’s jáaji draws us into the circle. “You want the dancers to dance…” he says, “Because once they dance, everything goes into place…” With that line, Sky’s father sets a suitable context for the film to unspool into.

Language is literally the central theme of Hopinka’s composition. It is the language — his father’s words transcribed into the International Phonetic Alphabet — that dominates the screen in the beginning, and creates an initial barrier to the movie. As Jáaji Approxmoves forward, everything begins to fall into place. Jáaji Approx. is at once both literal and lyrical: two landscapes occupy the screen on the verge of meeting, as two voices meet and exchange words.

“The main thing I think I’m trying to get at is attempting to understand and reconcile this relationship I have with these recordings, documentations that I took of my dad,” says Hopinka, “and how those serve as a sort of proxy or approximation of him and our own relationship. And ultimately trying to create my own proxy to communicate with his.”

In addition to Jáaji Approx., Sky will also screen Visions of an Island; wawa; Kuninkaga Remembers Red Banks, Kuninkaga Remembers the Welcome Song; Venite et Loquamur; and I’ll Remember You As You Were, Not As What You’ll Become.

This event is sponsored by Sierra Nevada College and the Tahoe Underground Film Festival, 2016. The Tahoe Underground Film Festival will take place November 4th and 5th, 2016, in Incline Village. TUFF is a no-entry fee festival looking for work from around the world.


Sky Hopinka is a Ho-Chunk Nation national and descendent of the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians.  He was born and raised in Ferndale, Washington and spent a number of years in Palm Springs and Riverside, California, and Portland, Oregon.  It was in Portland where he received his BA from Portland State University in Liberal Arts and studied and taught chinuk wawa, a language indigenous to the Columbia River Basin. His work centers around personal positions of homeland and landscapes, designs of language and facets of culture contained within, and the play between the accessibility of the known and the unknowable, and how those concepts interact with the screen and the audience.

His work has played at various festivals including ImagineNATIVE Media + Arts Festival, Images Festival, Courtisane Festival, American Indian Film Festival, Sundance Film Festival, Antimatter Film Festival, Chicago Underground Film Festival, Ann Arbor Film Festival, FLEXfest, and Agua Caliente Native FilmFest.  He was awarded jury prizes at Milwaukee Underground Film Festival,Student Experimental Film Festival in Binghamton, Ann Arbor Film Festival, and 3rd Prize at the 2015 Media City Film Festival.