FILM

Ma's House

Director | Jeremy Dennis (Shinnecock Nation)

Producers | Taylor Hensel, Adam Mazo, Kavita Pillay, and Tracy Rector.

Synopsis
Ma’s House was once the heart of a community. As Ma’s grandson, artist and photographer Jeremy Dennis is on a quest to restore the family home to its central role as a community gathering place for a new generation of diverse artists. Through personal mementos, intimate narratives, and a touch of celebrity gossip, Dennis and his family reveal generations of history and hope contained within the walls of their home.

Logline
A Shinnecock photographer restores his family home by hand to create a gathering place for a new generation of artists.

About Reciprocity Project
Facing a climate crisis, Reciprocity Project embraces Indigenous value systems that have bolstered communities since the beginning of time. To heal, we must recognize that we are in relationship with Earth, a place that was in balance since time immemorial. This short film series and multimedia platform invites learning from time-honored and current Indigenous ways of being. Reciprocity Project is a co-production of Nia Tero and Upstander Project, in association with REI Co-op Studios.

Technical Specifications
TRT | 8 minutes
Aspect Ratio | 16:9
Color
Format | Digital
Audio | Stereo
Language | English
Location | Filmed at Shinnecock Indian Nation

FILMMAKERS

Director
Jeremy Dennis is a contemporary fine art photographer and a tribal member of the Shinnecock Indian Nation in Southampton, NY. In his work, he explores Indigenous identity, culture, and assimilation. Dennis was one of 10 recipients of a 2016 Dreamstarter Grant from the national non-profit Running Strong for American Indian Youth. His project, On This Site, uses photography and an interactive online map to showcase culturally significant Native American sites on Long Island. Dennis received the Creative Bursar Award from Getty Images in 2018 to continue his series, Stories—Indigenous Oral Stories, Dreams and Myths. Inspired by North American Indigenous stories, he staged supernatural images that transform these myths and legends to depictions of an actual experience in a photograph. Dennis holds an MFA from Pennsylvania State University, State College, PA, and a BA in Studio Art from Stony Brook University, NY.

Artist statement
Making this film about Ma's House was a wonderful experience. After working to rehabilitate our family home, it was important to reflect on the progress and how far the house has come. The work was tiresome and financially draining, but it all came together thanks to the individual contributions of many friends and family members. When we began, there was so much love and passion behind the mission of turning the home into a future communal art space for artists of color on the Shinnecock Reservation. I hope the film conveys our gratitude towards those individuals, shows where the space is going, and creates a better image of what Ma's House is all about.

About Reciprocity Project
In Season One of this multimedia project, storytellers and community partners created films in response to a question: What does ‘reciprocity’ mean to you and your community? Facing a climate crisis, the Reciprocity Project embraces Indigenous value systems that have bolstered communities since time immemorial.Reciprocity Project invites global Indigenous filmmakers to center Indigenous perspectives about the reciprocal relationship between all beings — seen and unseen — and the lands we inhabit.

Collaborators

Nia Tero is a US-based non-profit working in solidarity with Indigenous peoples and movements worldwide with a mission of securing Indigenous guardianship of vital ecosystems. Nia Tero is committed to an antiracist and inclusive culture centering Indigenous rights, wisdom, practices, worldviews, and protocols.

Upstander Project
is a Boston-based non-profit that uses storytelling to amplify silenced narratives, develop upstander skills to challenge systemic injustice, and nurture compassionate, courageous relationships that honor the interconnection of all beings and the Earth. Upstander Project envisions a world rooted in responsibility and respect for all where upstanders confront injustice and repair harm to ensure all beings thrive together.

REI Co-op Studios develops and produces stories that entertain, enrich and explore the power of time spent outside, while complementing the co-op’s broader climate and racial equity, diversity, and inclusion commitments.

PRESS & Acclaim

“What Jeremy Dennis is doing, as revealed in this splendid documentary on the restoration of Ma’s House, is visionary and expressive of his virtue, resourcefulness and courage. He is finding a way of using creative engagement to keep the line of his historic inheritance preserved, revitalized and forward looking. His project and its mission breathe hope into his Shinnecock community and serves as an example for other communities, This documentary, Ma’s House, captures the spirit of those who deeply believe that the arts must be at the center of any community or culture if healthy bonds are to be woven and the meanings of our lives are carried forward.”
-Eric Fischl

Ma’s House has screened at film festival around the globe, including Skábmagovat Indigenous Peoples’ Film Festival, Big Sky Documentary Film Festival, Halifax Black Film Festival, Durango Independent Film Festival, Cartagena International Film Festival (FICCI), Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF), Dreamspeakers International Indigenous Film Festival, Independent Film Festival Boston, and imagineNATIVE Film and Media Festival.

News

Credits

Ma’s House
A film by Jeremy Dennis
Filmed at Shinnecock Indian Nation
A Nia Tero and Upstander Project Production In association with REI Co-op Studios

FEATURING:
Jeremy Dennis
Denise Silva Dennis
Avery Dennis, Jr.
Kelly Dennis

DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY
Jeremy Dennis
Sauli Pillay

WRITERS:
Jeremy Dennis
Sauli Pillay

FIELD PRODUCER:
Adam Mazo

SOUND RECORDIST:
Sauli Pillay

EDITOR:
Sauli Pillay

ASSISTANT EDITOR:
Jacob Bearchum

COVID-19 SUPERVISOR
Eleni Ledesma

ON SET COVID-19 COORDINATOR:
Adam Mazo

MUSIC COURTESY OF:
Soundstripe

PHOTOGRAPHER:
Jared Lank

ARCHIVAL IMAGES COURTESY OF:
Jeremy Dennis

CULTURAL ADVISOR:
Dr. Rev. Trimble Gilbert

(Land Acknowledgement) Ma's House is situated on Shinnecock ancestral territory in what is now Southampton, New York. Shinnecock is a self-governing sovereign nation that has endured nearly four hundred years of colonization. Shinnecock have resided on their traditional territory for over 10,000 years, and will continue to do so into the future.

IN MEMORY OF:
Loretta 'Ma' Silva

For Series Credits please see the Season One Press Kit

Download the pdf press kit and trailer.

Ma's House key still

Ma's House still 2

Ma's House Director Jeremy Dennis

Press Kit PDF, Learning Materials, Transcript

CONNECT

Website | Reciprocity.org

Social Media | Instagram | Facebook

Podcast | Seedcast

Press Contact | press@reciprocity.org

Updated | 9/21/23