We Still Live Here: Âs Nutayuneân, Anne Makepeace, Fellow in Film, 2008
Sep 2, 2011
For more than 25 years, Anne Makepeace has written, directed, and produced independent films. We Still Live Here: Âs Nutayuneân is her most recent film, a project initiated during her 2008 Guggenheim Fellowship term. The documentary chronicles the revival of Wôpanâak, the Algonquian language of the southeastern Massachusetts Wampanoag community, after more than a century of disuse. Led by linguist Jessie Little Doe Baird, the Wampanoag have committed themselves to a challenging task: reviving their ancestral language without being able to consult a living native speaker in the process. Baird’s pioneering work with colonial-era Wôpanâak documents brought her to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she worked alongside renowned linguist Ken Hale and earned a Master’s degree in linguistics. Ironically, colonial clergyman John Eliot’s “Indian Bible” (circa 1661-63), a translation of the Bible into Wôpanâak intended to convert Native Americans to Christianity, became one of the most important sources the Wampanoag relied upon to recover their language. In a January 2011 interview with the Santa Barbara Independent, Makepeace discusses her personal interest in the film’s subject matter, which she says “drew me so powerfully, partly I think because of my own background—I am descended from those Puritan settlers who co-opted Wampanoag lands or worse—and partly because of the intensely passionate dedication and commitment that Jessie [Little Doe Baird] and others have for bringing their language home.”
We Still Live Here features interviews with many Wampanoag people about what restoring language means to the community, interspersed with beautiful scenes of the Massachusetts coast and illustrated sequences by Ruth Lingford, Professor of the Practice of Animation at Harvard University. The film has received several awards, including the Full Frame Inspiration Award at the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival in Durham, North Carolina, and the Moving Mountains Prize at the Telluride Mountainfilm Festival in Telluride, Colorado. We Still Live Here will also be broadcast on PBS’s Independent Lens series on November 17, 2011; in the week beforehand, a segment of the film will air on the PBS Newshour. The documentary is one of ten films selected by the U.S. Department of State for inclusion in its 2011 American Documentary Showcase, a touring program that brings top-quality documentaries to developing countries around the globe. In the Santa Barbara Independent, Makepeace commented that “I hope viewers will be as awed by this heroic story as I am, as devastated by the historical revelations as I was when I learned them, and as moved by the resilience, generosity, fortitude, and humor of Wampanoag people as I continue to be.”
Makepeace’s award-winning documentary work includes National Prime Time Emmy Award winner Robert Capa in Love and War, documenting the life of the renowned war photographer; the Emmy Award nominated Rain in a Dry Land; Baby It’s You, investigating the world of fertility clinics; and Coming to Light, on Edward S. Curtis, an early 20th-century photographer of Native Americans. For her 2010 documentary I.M. Pei, Building China Modern, Makepeace followed the celebrated architect for seven years while he built a museum in his ancestral home in the city of Suzhou, China.
To find out more about We Still Live Here: Âs Nutayuneân please go to Makepeace Productions.
Visit Anne Makepeace’s website Makepeace Productions to learn more about her films. For more information on the Wampanoag community’s revival of Wôpanâak, visit the Wôpanâak Language Reclamation Project.