MONTREAL – Isuma Distribution International is pleased to announce the world premiere of feature film “Sg̱aawaay K’uuna (Edge of The Knife)” at the Toronto International Film Festival.
Co-directed by Helen Haig-Brown (“The Cave”, “My Legacy”) and Gwaai Edenshaw, “Sg̱aawaay K’uuna (Edge of The Knife)” is the first feature film created entirely in the Haida language. Both directors will be joined by key cast members and producer Jonathan Frantz at the Toronto premiere.
On the islands of Haida Gwaii off the coast of British Columbia, in the 1800’s, two families re-unite at their summer fishing camp. Soon conflict between a charismatic young nobleman, Adiits’ii, and his best friend Kwa, tears their interwoven families apart. When Adiits’ii’s recklessness causes the death of Kwa’s son, he flees into the rainforest. Wracked with grief, Adiits’ii transforms into Gaagiixid, a ravenous supernatural being caught between worlds. Now while the community hopes to restore Adiits’ii’s humanity, Kwa wrestles with his deepest desire – revenge.
With less than 1% of Haida being fluent in their ancestral language, “Edge of the Knife” was envisioned to support the Haida language, create local employment, and promote Haida culture by bringing an ancient Haida story into a new space using the medium of film.
The creation of “Edge of the Knife” required a community-led collaborative effort. It was inspired by Isuma’s community-based filmmaking model for indigenous-language media production.
In consultation with local elders, language and script workshops for participants of all ages were essential to the process, with a predominantly Haida cast and crew working on the production.
By promoting indigenous-language filmmaking and retaining community control over production, ownership and distribution, “Edge of the Knife” offers a unique example of the power of using contemporary media to strengthen and protect indigenous language, culture and community connections.
“Edge of The Knife” is the result of a unique 4-year collaboration between the Council of The Haida Nation, Skidegate Band Council, Old Masset Village Council, the University of British-Columbia, and Isuma Distribution International with Zacharias Kunuk as executive producer and mentor.
Specializing in indigenous-language media production and community-based filmmaking, Isuma Distribution International was co-founded by Zacharias Kunuk and Norman Cohn, the team behind the award-winning films, “Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner”, “The Journals of Knud Rasmussen”, and “Maliglutit (Searchers)”.