Edge of the Knife
Sea to Sky | Best of 2018
Some 104 years since Edward S Curtis made British Columbia’s first feature film, In the Land of the Head Hunters (a somewhat controversial though undeniably fascinating portrait of the Kwakwaka’wakw people of northern Vancouver Island, Edge of the Knife represents the first feature film made by their neighbours the Haida, in their own tongue. Like Head-Hunters, Edge of the Knife is set in the 19th century, and is in part a stab at historical reclaimation; most of the cast needed a dialect coach, for example. But while Curtis remained an outside observer, transfixed by the Kwakwaka’wakw’s masks and regalia, Gwai Edenshaw and Helen Haig-Brown’s film has an indigenous eye, familiar not only from other Isuma productions (Zacharias Kunuk has an executive producer credit) but also from supernatural neo-realist fables from African and Latin American filmmakers. Inspired by the mythology of the Gaagiid/Gaagiixiid, the film charts a simple narrative about a reckless uncle who can’t bear the guilt of having unwittingly led a beloved nephew to his demise, and whose abnegation takes on a horrific physical form over a winter of self-imposed exile in the wild.
"Tyler York delivers a performance that goes from restless and raw to tragic and ferocious… [This is] a film stacked with stunning imagery, where the natural and mythical get tangled. Edge of the Knife begins by mourning for a lost future. But in telling this story it finds hope yet." Radheyan Simonpillai, NOW Magazine
"As mythic as Edge of the Knife can be, it never fails to exist on a basic human scale, where every life is sacred and no one is beyond redemption." Michael Sicinski, Cinema ScopeBest of 2018 3 pack $30
*Please note that most Best of 2018 screenings are 19+.