Sooyii is a new film that just had its world premiere at the Montana Film Festival. It was shot entirely on the tribal land of the Piegan Blackfoot nation — and is the first film made in the native language of the Pikuni people. Written and directed by Krisztian Kery, the film follows the tale of a young Pikuni man named Creature Hunter who returns home to find his community ravaged by smallpox.
(This setup reminds me of the recent Irish language revenge thriller Black 47, which I naturally loved)
The Missoulian has a great piece about the premiere of Sooyii, but this part in particular stood out to me:
"I believe that 'Sooyii' is a message to Hollywood, to directors, to producers, and, even to our own people, to set the bar by including Indigenous language in film," said Jesse DesRosier, who translated the script to Blackfoot and appeared in the film.
DesRosier, a teacher of the Blackfoot language at Cuts Wood School in Browning and Blackfeet Community College, instructed the tenets and structure of Blackfoot to the cast. "Sooyii" carries with it a deep sense of urgency, because the Blackfoot language, he said, is greatly in danger of erasure, of becoming a moribund artifact of the culture.
"We are in a fight against time, with elders dying … ," DesRosier said. "The film is the starting pointing for all people to learn an Indigenous language in Montana."
I'm not sure what other distribution plans there are for the movie, but you can check their Facebook page for updates.
Film shot entirely in Blackfoot language, on tribal land to premiere [Brian D'ambrosio / The Missoulian]