Smoke That Travels
Texas Spirit Theater | NR | 13 min. | Documentary, Short, Biography
Screens Daily Sept. 16, 2017 - Jan. 7, 2018
What happens when a story is forgotten? Smoke That Travels examines identity and preservation of culture through the eyes of 18-year-old award-winning filmmaker Kayla Briët. She explores her indigenous roots through the memories and teachings of her Prairie Band Potawatomi family.
With a focus on experimental editing, colors, language, and original music, Briët aims to capture a part of her childhood, confront her fear of losing her culture, and explore what it means to be Native American today.
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Writer/Director: Kayla Briët
Runtime: 13 minutes
Genre: Documentary, Short, Biography
Release year: 2016
Smoke That Travels is a project I began at age 17 and completed at age 19, while going through the motions of growing up, turning 18, graduating high school, diving into the unknown. I think some of that emotion is reflected through the music. It is a personal film about finding your home. Sometimes when I was stuck on words or how to phrase a certain idea, I would dive into the music/score to express myself. Being the cinematographer and editor of the film, I was able to develop a visual style unique to my expression through emotion and music. This is a little time capsule of colors, thoughts, sounds, and music that were a big part of my childhood. Today, Native American history and culture is such a sensitive topic and often isn't discussed without anger. As a young girl, I became confused as to why this had to be. Through this short experimental documentary I aim to bring people into a personal realm of my life, immersed in music and color, and start a dialogue and celebration of our individual cultural backgrounds. We are recognizing that we all have complicated pasts and beauty to share about our origins. We all exist because of stories: the history of humanity as we know it was preserved through storytelling, the universe's story is being described through the languages of physics and mathematics, and the stories of our daily lives are being preserved by conversations between individuals. So, what happens when a story is forgotten? Does it cease to exist? What if someone else writes your story instead? Does one single voice matter? I’ve dedicated this short film to my little brother Senachwine, because I know there will be a time when he ponders the same questions and fears as he grows up. These are questions that we are all exploring as human beings throughout our lifetime. Thank you for reading.
Smoke That Travels was archived in the film/video archives of the Smithsonian Institute National Museum of the American Indian as of 2017 and has screened and won awards in over 45 international film festivals and museums including MoMA NYC, SIFF, and NFFTY. The film has also been featured in National Geographic and screened in the US Embassy film diplomacy program American Film Showcase.
Kayla Briët is an 18 year old self-taught filmmaker, composer, and musician. Her short films have screened and won awards internationally, and have taken her to the White House for the First-Ever White House Film Festival, where she was invited to meet President Barack Obama. Recently, she was named a 2016 National YoungArts Foundation Winner in Cinematic Arts, a 2015 Future of Storytelling Fellow (NYC), a 2016 MIT Chamber Scholar, a 2016 Adobe Creativity Scholar, and a 2016 Sundance Institute Ignite Fellow. As a musician, she performs original music with a loop pedal and multiple instruments in styles ranging from alternative pop to cinematic. With an interdisciplinary background in both art and science, Briët lives to empower and inspire through the many mediums of storytelling.
Gary Wis-ki-ge-amatyuk is a full-blooded Prairie Band Potawatomi and Ojibwe performer and educator and father of Kayla Briët. He performs weekly shows at Indian Trails in Knott's Berry Farm, California, where he combines traditional hoop dance, eagle dance, flute, and singing with education of Native American history to audiences of over 500 people each day. When he is not performing his oneman show, you can find him giving lectures on Native American history to students ranging from elementary to university level. He is passionate about preserving history, promoting equality and unity, and education.
The Texas Spirit Theater located on the Bullock Museum's second floor is one of the most beautiful film experiences in Austin and features multi-sensory special effects such as lightning, rain, and other surprises.
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Ticket prices are $5 for adults, $3 for Bullock Museum members and $4 for seniors, youths, and university students with a valid ID.