About Haida Language and Film

"What would we do if we couldn't speak Haida
and we couldn't talk to our ancestors?
That would be the scariest thing.
But that will not happen now,
I believe whole heartedly with the film
and the 12 women that are going to be teachers."
GwaaG_Anad – Diane Brown

When we started the production of the film, Edge of the Knife, we needed a way for the
actors to learn their lines in Haida. This was not an easy task as most of them did not speak
the Haida language fluently. The actors not only needed to learn the lines, but also needed
to have the correct pronunciation. Having audio files for each line was key. For this, an app
was created and made available in MP3 players the actors could take home to rehearse with.

This app is now available on the website, and will be made public once the film has
completed its film festival circuit. As the most important aspect for the Haida in making this
film was to recuperate and revitalize the Haida language, we followed what the needs of the
community were and expanded the language revitalization. We digitized precious audio
archives done by the Haida elders over the years, making them available on the website
viewable on websites and mobiles. We also created an audio studio where elders could
continue to record their language to save from extinction.

To have a rich and substantial website we interviewed the majority of the cast participating
in the film, Edge of the Knife. We contracted and interviewed cast and also people responsible
for script development, funding and technical aspects of the film; asking particularly about the
language and what their hope was for the film. The majority of them said that the most
important thing for them in making the film was recovering the Haida language.

The script lines (soon public), the elder’s knowledge and the interviews of Haida Gwaii people
involved in the film, are all here in this website for you to explore.

"When we first started in Yaan,
it was just coming out of people,
their lines, they were coming easy.
And I said to Leo from Ottawa,
'It's as if everybody knows the lines already.'
And he said,
'We probably already said them, thousands of years ago.'
And I thought about it and then during the film
it was easy to feel like you were in the 1800s.
With the old village, and speaking just Haida,
and being on a canoe in front of an old village."
GwaaG_Anad – Diane Brown