630pm – Sid Williams Theatre, Courtenay

SGaawaay K’uuna (Edge of the Knife) is a 105 minute 2018 Canadian drama co-directed by Hluugitgaa Gwaai Edenshaw and Jaada Gyaahlangnaay Helen Haig-Brown. It is the first feature film spoken only in dialects of the Haida language (with subtitles). Set in 19th century Haida Gwaii, it tells the classic Haida story of the traumatized and stranded man transformed to Gaagiixiid, the wildman.

The film was created primarily by indigenous people, including the co-directors, a mostly amateur crew, and the Haida cast. In 2017, Edge of the Knife actors were taught to speak Haida (endangered dialects with only 20 fluent speakers) at a two-week intensive training camp and throughout the five weeks of filming.

First shown on September 1, 2018 to the primary audience, Haida Gwaii residents, SGaawaay K’uuna made its public premiere six days later at the Toronto International Film Festival, which named the film in its Canada’s Top Ten list. At the Vancouver International Film Festival, the film was voted Best Canadian feature, Best BC Film, and Most Popular Film. Further nominations and awards have been presented to actors and costume designers.

“They say a fire calls you into the forest. The cold will make you desperate to catch the fire; but no matter how long you run, you cannot catch the fire. You run and run until your mind is sick and the spirits take you over. You become wild. You become Gaagiixid.”

The film is set in the 1800s in Haida Gwaii. At a seasonal fishing camp two families endure conflict between the nobleman Adiits’ii and his best friend Kwa. After Adiits’ii causes the accidental death of Kwa’s son, he flees into the rainforest, descending into madness and transforming into Gaagiixid – “the Wildman.” When the families return in the spring, they discover Adiits’ii has survived the winter. Can he be rescued and returned to his humanity? Meanwhile, Kwa wrestles with his deepest desire – revenge.

Presented by World Community, I-Hos Gallery, Xyuu Xyahl Gaang.nga – Southeast Wind Dancers, Immigrant Welcome Society, and the Sid Williams Theatre Society.

This event features an opening Haida cultural performance by Xyuu Xyahl Gaang.nga – Southeast Wind Dancers. We’re thrilled to have director Hluugitgaa Gwaai Edenshaw join us for a post screening Q&A session via Skype.

Admission is by donation (suggested $8 or what you can afford). Doors to the lobby will open at 5 pm. Theatre entrance at 6 pm. FMI: 250 337 5412