Shoreline Movements: maɬni – towards the ocean, towards the shore

This film is part of the exhibition Shoreline Movements, a program of non-fiction films curated by Erika Balsom and Grégory Castéra (Council), in a space designed by Daniel Steegmann Mangrané, for the Taipei Biennial 2020.

Hopinka’s debut feature film limns a cyclical movement of death and rebirth. maɬni draws on the origin-of-death myth proper to the Chinookan people of the Pacific Northwest of the United States, in which Lilu (wolf) and T’alap’as (coyote) discuss the afterlife. Much of the film is spoken in Chinuk Wawa, a nearly extinct pidgin trade language that Hopinka, who belongs to the Ho-Chunk Nation, learned when he was in his twenties; when English is spoken, it is subtitled. Intimate conversations with Sweetwater Sahme and Jordan Mercier – each of them expectant parents and close friends of the filmmaker – are interwoven with a lyrical rendering of the land and water of the Columbia River Basin and an attention to the bonds between language and community, memory and resurgence.

maɬni – towards the ocean, towards the shore, 2020, 82:00

Camera / Sound / Editing

  • Sky Hopinka


  • Jordan Mercier
  • Sweetwater Sahme

Narration by

  • Sky Hopinka


  • Tony Johnson
  • Amanda Mercier
  • Bobby Mercier
  • Ila Mercier
  • Travis Mercier
  • Tomanowos
  • Ulxayu
  • The Grand Ronde Canoe Family
  • The Chinook Nation Canoe Family

Sound Recordist

  • Drew Durepos

Music Composed by

  • Thad Kellstadt

Additional Music

  • New Beginnings Composed by Bobby Mercier Performed by the Grand Ronde Canoe Family
  • Canto de Sirenas Composed and Performed by Ramiro Ramirex

Music Supervisor

  • Jennie Armon

chinuk wawa Language Consultation

  • Henry Zenk
  • Jedd Schrock

Images courtesy of the artist

Executive Producer

  • Steve Holgrem


  • Sky Hopinka

Associate Producer

  • Sam Schild
  • Ehm West