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Mother Tongue Film Festival

The Smithsonian’s sixth annual Mother Tongue Film Festival—a space for celebrating global cinema with a special emphasis on language—opened on Sunday, Feb. 21, International Mother Language Day, with Waikiki, Hawaii’s first Native-helmed feature. Directed by Christopher Kahunahana, the film is a surreal portrait of Kea, a teacher, hula dancer, and bar hostess who, after striking a man with her van while escaping from an abusive ex, brings that individual into her life. If you weren’t able to snag one of Waikiki’s 400 first-come, first-serve tickets, don’t fret: The all-online, free festival is rolling out a healthy schedule of screenings—45 of them in 39 languages—through May. Teko Haxy (Being Imperfect), a short experimental documentary directed by Brazilian anthropologist Sophia Pinheiro and Keretxu filmmaker Patrícia Ferreira, and Tote (Grandfather), a documentary by María Sojob that grounds itself in the weaving of a traditional Tzotzil hat, are both available to view now, for free. Be sure to scroll down to Mother Tongue’s huge collection of short films, many of which are already available, and remember to register for director and filmmaker talkbacks to round out your festival experience. The films are available to view at mothertongue.si.edu. Free.