RetakeIn 2017, two filmmakers set out to make the first-ever Haida language feature film. NOW STREAMING ON CBC GEM
In 2017, two filmmakers set out to make Edge of the Knife, the first-ever feature film told entirely in Haida. The Haida language is critically endangered — many actors had to learn the language to learn their lines.
"If we lose the language, we will no longer be Haida – Haida is the only thing that distinguishes us from other people." - Delores Churchill
Retake follows the journey of co-directors Gwaai Edenshaw (Haida) and Helen Haig-Brown (Tsilhqot'in) as they work to produce Edge of the Knife, a feature-length film told entirely in the critically-endangered Haida language. The film tells the story of a traditional Haida legend, showcasing the Haida culture in many ways that have never been seen by a broad audience.
In this short documentary, you’ll meet the cast and crew of the film as they live, work and learn alongside Haida elders and speakers. Today, there are only 24 fluent Haida speakers left; many of the actors had to learn the language to learn their lines.
See the celebration — and the struggle — as Gwaai, Helen and a 56-person cast and crew seek to make a movie in the historic Haida village site of Yan.
The islands of Haida Gwaii, off British Columbia’s west coast, have been home to the Haida people for thousands of years — the land, sea and forest sustain them. In 1862, a smallpox epidemic in BC devastated many communities and the effects of the illness still echo today. Yan itself suffered a 90 percent loss of its population. Survivors resettled in the nearby community of Masset where they were met with racist and genocidal government policies, seeking to assimilate the Haida people and erase their culture and language. The Haida people resisted; holding on to their way of life in secret, speaking their language quietly and behind closed doors.
In 2017, over 150 years later, Gwaai and Helen chose Yan for this ambitious film project; one that would help preserve and revitalize the Haida language. Retake offers an intimate behind-the-scenes look at the filming of The Edge of the Knife, including the challenges of working in a remote, formidable location and in a critically-endangered Indigenous language.
For the cast and crew, the project was an opportunity to learn or reconnect with the language that lives deep within themselves and Haida Gwaii.
Directed by Kristi Lane Sinclair (Haida/Cree), this stunning film captures the difficulties and the joys of filmmaking and ultimately, the land and the language that make the Haida people who they are.