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Smoke that Travels

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What happens when a story is forgotten?

I started this film at 17, because I had a fear that part of my identity, my native Prairie Band Potawatomi heritage, would be inevitably lost in time. Through music, dance, and color, I’m inviting others to become immersed in the thoughts, histories, and emotions I grew up with.

During the creation of this personal film, I had the intention for this to simply be a time-capsule for myself and my baby brother to look back on in the future, as adults. Little did I know that upon it’s release, this film would take me on a journey for over a year. I got to meet indigenous communities from around the world – from the Sami of Scandinavia, Ainu of Japan, and many more – who were all dealing with the same struggle to preserve their language and culture. I felt so lucky to hear their stories and for the first time, experienced the power storytelling has to connect us to each other as human beings.

Watch Kayla’s Ted Talk at: 

Or learn more about Kayla’s lineage project by clicking the image below:

About the Author: Kayla Briët

KAYLA BRIËT is an artist exploring themes of identity in multiple mediums of storytelling: film, music, and virtual reality.

In 2016, she directed, shot, edited, and scored her short documentary, "Smoke That Travels," which immerses viewers in her native Prairie Band Potawatomi heritage and explores fears that her culture may someday be forgotten.

Through intimate live performances, she shares stories through wave-like vocals and live looping — mixing electronic beats with the strings of a Chinese guzheng zither and blending influences from her Chinese/Dutch-Indonesian heritage.

In July 2018, she traveled to China as one of 3 American musicians selected to join 3 Chinese musicians for the non-profit Found Sound Nation China Music Diplomacy Fellowship sponsored by the US Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. For one month, she travelled with fellows to learn about traditional music and culture home to Yunnan and Guizhou, captured sounds and stories along the journey, and performed new works live with genre-bending musicians in multiple venues across Beijing.

In an experiment to preserve memories and emotions we humans project onto objects, she is currently creating a room-scale VR time capsule experience called "Trove."

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