Director: Darlene Naponse
Screenwriters: Darlene Naponse

Institute History

  • 2003 Sundance Film Festival


Part musical, part experimental narrative, Darlene Naponse's tenderly crafted first feature is as elusive as it is intriguing. A musically-inspired stroll through the Whitefish Lake Ojibway First Nation, which serves as the backdrop, Cradlesong is that rare kind of film that keeps you interested—and guessing—on its own terms.

Naponse knows what she is after, and never betrays the deliberate pace or the uniquely beautiful and original style that she establishes from the first frame. Presenting young musicians falling in love with law students, aunties creating nourishment in the presence of Ojibway language, and teleported Indian guys pontificating the ability to travel freely, Naponse knows how to tell a story.

Through originally composed songs, we witness the modern creation of an ancient practice: using music to express story and emotion. Naponse is the newest voice in a long line of Native women filmmakers redefining cinema from the indigenous perspective, and the ending she crafts for Cradlesong will leave you hopeful, even as it breaks your heart.

— Bird Runningwater

Screening Details

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