Tsilhqot’in filmmaker continues to make waves with her new film Edge of the Knife winning several film festival awards.
Indigenous Helen Haig-Brown has always had a passion for telling untold stories, specifically those of the First Nation peoples of Canada. After more than a decade of filmmaking, she’s no stranger to the industry and the film festival circuit.
Her latest project, Edge of the Knife, has been receiving national attention for its storytelling and unique community-minded approach to filmmaking. The film is the first to be shot entirely in dialects of the Haida language, of which only 20 fluent speakers remain, many of whom were involved in the making of the film.
Haig-Brown said that all the interest this film has generated has made her excited and shown that there is a market for Indigenous films told in Indigenous languages.
“It just feels awesome that there is a wider and broader interest in the film and that it shows the cinematic world in Canada is shifting right now, so that’s exciting,” Haig-Brown remarked.
Set on Haida Gwaii, renamed the Queen Charlotte Islands in colonial times, in the mid-1800s century it tells the tale of two families meeting for their annual fishing retreat. A young careless man named Adiits’ii accidentally causes a tragedy during their gathering and grief-stricken, flees into the woods.
Left behind and haunted by his guilt he goes mad and becomes Gaagiixid, Wildman, a supernatural being crazed by hunger. When the families return the next year they seek to reconnect with the man within the monster and bring humanity back to Adiits’il.
Making its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival before coming to the Vancouver International Film Festival, the film has generated a ton of positive buzz. So much so its two initial showings at VIFF sold out, much to the delight of Haig-Brown, with a third show being added in a theatre that seats over a 1,800 people which also sold out.
The film brought home three awards at the VIFF including Best Canadian Film, Best BC Film and Most Popular Canadian Film. In Toronto, it also brought home the Sun Jury Award at the ImagineNATIVE Film Festival and the TIFF Top Ten Award of 2018.
“What feels amazing, to me, is not only the awards but the number of people who have been requesting and wanting to come to see the film,” Haig-Brown said. “It just finished 10 days of theatrical release in Vancouver at the Vancity Theatre and now they’ve just added another day in the new year.”
Its film festival tour days are not over according to Haig-Brown as she said there are “quite a lot” of festivals that have requested to air it, worldwide including the United Kingdom, Washington D.C and a wide range of others “all over”.
Its American and International release has yet to be determined but, as noted in our previous article, its premiere in Williams Lake has. This Friday at 7 p.m. in the Gibraltar Room the Williams Lake Film Club will be hosting a showing of this award-winning film.
“To any of the people in the Cariboo-Chilcotin and particularly the Tshilqot’in Nation please come check out the movie. We’re going to be doing a similar process in (my upcoming) Chilcotin War film, where we’re going to be able to do a homegrown community driven project coming up soon,” Haig-Brown said, encouraging any interested in taking part in a project similar to Edge of the Knife to contact her.
She will be returning to the Chilcotin next year to begin research on her next project.