2018 / 100 minutes

Directed by
Gwaai Edenshaw Helen Haig-Brown
Country of production

We are delighted to open the 16th RAI Film Festival with Edge of the Knife, the recipient of this year’s President’s Medal.

Edge of the Knife is the first feature film in the endangered Haida language, spoken in the Haida Gwaii archipelago off the coast of Canada and on Prince of Wales Island in Alaska. The film is a historical tale based on Haida oral story-telling and mythology. Set in a seasonal fishing camp, Edge of the Knife centres on the relationship 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.

Having survived decades of hardship and cultural genocide, Haida today are reclaiming their language with hard work and dedication. The film is part of thriving cultural and language revitalisation programme; fluent elders carefully translated the script into three Haida dialects and trained the fully-Haida cast in memorizing, pronouncing, and expressing their lines.

William Mitchell Russ – one of the film’s lead actors – will attend this screening to accept the Award, and take part in a Q&A.

In the 2019 RAI Film Fest Special Interest
Language and subtitles
Location(s) depicted
Haida Gwaii, Canada