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A Story of Bones

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Canadian Premiere

Keynote Speaker: Annina (Nina) van Neel, Human Rights Commissioner, Equality and Human Rights Commission, Saint Helena; Film Subject, A Story of Bones


The remote island of St. Helena is best known for being where Napoleon spent his final years in exile and was ultimately buried. His grave is beautifully maintained and serves as the island’s biggest tourist attraction. To encourage tourism, the island decides to build its first commercial airport. Annina van Neel arrives from Namibia to help with the construction and is present when the remains of thousands of ’freed slaves’ are uncovered. Heeding her increasing discomfort with how the bones are handled, Nina campaigns tirelessly to honor their legacy and integrate them into the history of the island—their fate is, after all, intertwined with that of Napoleon’s. A Story of Bones shines a pensive light on the contrast between whom we place importance on and the legacy of colonial rule on an island still governed from Britain. The story isn’t just a local one, but radiates outward connecting to the global consequences of the Transatlantic Slave Trade. The film celebrates personal victories, and mourns collective setbacks along Nina’s journey to create a respectful burial ground. Her initially lonely quest leads to unexpected connections as she slowly finds a sense of belonging and purpose.


Joseph Curran, Dominic Aubrey de Vere

Country of Origin






95 min

Book Tickets

Friday February 24

7:50 pm
VIFF Centre - Vancity Theatre
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Executive Producer

Lisa Marie Russo, Mike Brett, Steve Jamison


Yvonne Isimeme Ibazebo


Joseph Curran, Dominic Aubrey de Vere


James Scott

Original Music

Bankey Ojo