Explore the 2019 programme below, either by browsing the separate sections, or looking at the timetable view.

Student showcases films made by the new generation of ethnographic filmmakers, often as part of doctoral projects
RAI/Basil Wright features the films competing for the top prizes at this year’s festival
Material Culture focuses on films with something to say about the way we engage with our material world
Intangible Culture explores worlds of music, dance, performance, and ritual
Special Interest explores a range of fascinating topics, including programmes with a special director or thematic focus
Shorts is new for 2019, and celebrates the best in short-form ethnographic filmmaking as a cauldron of innovation


Directed by
Gwaai Edenshaw Helen Haig-Brown

Countries of production

Year of production

100 minutes

27 March
Cinema 1, Watershed 6:00 PM
Special Interest

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.

Location(s) depicted
Haida Gwaii, Canada

Language(s) of film subjects