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First Stories: The Body Remembers When the World Broke Open Image

First Stories:

The Body Remembers When the World Broke Open

Sea to Sky | First Stories

Screening in our First Stories series, three features made by and about Indigenous Women, and timed to coincide with the Canadian Screen Awards on March 29th, The Body Remembers When the World Broke Open is arguably the most important and certainly the most widely seen homegrown BC movie of the past decade.

Discovering Rosie (Violet Nelson), a pregnant teenager, sobbing and barefoot on a rainy East Vancouver street, Áila (Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers) swiftly intercedes, initially offering shelter in her own apartment before working feverishly to get the girl access to proper support networks so that she needn’t return to her abusive home. As these two Indigenous women embark on a revelatory odyssey to a safe house, they must confront society’s assumptions about them, overcome their preconceptions about one another, and reflect on their own respective self-images.

Unfolding in a series of masterful long takes shot on 16mm by cinematographer Norm Li, this deft drama from Tailfeathers and Kathleen Hepburn (Never Steady, Never Still) employs a riveting combination of intimacy and immediacy. The urgency of the "real time" pacing is complemented by the inherent drama of their tenuous bond. A small-scale, high-stakes story shaped by larger socioeconomic and cultural forces, The Body Remembers is one of the most significant narrative films this city has produced.

Nominated for 6 Canadian Screen Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Director, Original Screenplay, Best Actress (x2), and Best Cinematography

Winner: Best BC Film, VIFF

Filmmaker bios

Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers (Blackfoot, Sámi) is a filmmaker, writer, and actor. Raised on the Kainai First Nation (Blood Reserve), she is now based in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Tailfeathers was the 2018 Sundance Institute Merata Mita Film Fellow and is an alumnus of the Berlinale Talent Lab. Commissioned by imagineNATIVE, her short documentary Bihttoš (2014) was selected as one of the Top Ten Canadian Shorts of 2014 by the Toronto International Film Festival and was nominated for a Canadian Screen Award. The Body Remembers When the World Broke Open is her debut narrative feature.

Kathleen Hepburn is a Vancouver born writer and director whose debut feature, Never Steady, Never Still, which Variety Magazine calls a "stoically broken hearted debut," premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2017 and was awarded Best Canadian Film and Best Director by the Vancouver Film Critics Circle, as well as Special Jury Prize at the Dublin International Film Festival. It went on to be nominated for eight Canadian Screen Academy Awards including Best Picture. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing, and a BFA in Film Production from the Universities of Guelph and Simon Fraser respectively. The Body Remembers is her sophomore feature, co-written and co-directed by Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers.

"The performances by Tailfeathers and Nelson, playing women who seem worlds apart, are heavy and complicated, burdened with both history and the urgent issues facing Indigenous women today." - Radheyan Simonpillai, NOW

Director Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers, Kathleen Hepburn
Country of Origin: Canada/Norway
Year: 2019
Running Time: 105 mins
Format: DCP
Classification: PG
Related Links: Trailer
Cast: Violet Nelson, Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers, Charlie Hannah, Barbara Eve Harris, Sonny Surowiec, Jay Cardinal Villeneuve


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