The powerhouse producers behind the iconic Inuit film Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner are partnering with the Haida First Nation in B.C. to make a feature-length film made entirely in two Haida dialects.
Set in 19th century Haida Gwaii, The Edge of the Knife is a film three years in the making that tells the story of Gaagiixid/Gaagiid (the Wildman), a popular Haida transformation tale about a man who survives a disaster at sea.
"The Edge of the Knife is a story of survival and redemption, secrets and self-discovery, set against the backdrop of the tangled rainforest and storm-ravaged Haida Gwaii," according to the film's Facebook page.
The production will employ an all-Haida cast speaking the nation's two main dialects — which is no small feat considering the few fluent speakers who remain. Part of the production will involve teaching the actors the language.
"Most of the people that came to us, that was their primary interest in getting involved in the project is the language aspect," said Gwaai Edenshaw, one of the film's two co-directors.
"We have a dwindling number of speakers … but also on top of that we have a ton of people who are putting in serious legwork to revitalize our language and make sure that it doesn't die out."