VIFF Film Review: Haida Gwaii: On the Edge of the World

Photo: ah zut, flickr creative commons.

Photo: ah zut, flickr creative commons.

As the name of the film suggests, this film is truly a cinematic adventure to the edge of the world. With such an inspiring look into this archipelago on the North Coast of British Columbia, one cannot help but leave the film with an intense connection to its people, place, and culture. Haida Gwaii: To the Edge of the World dynamically portrays the current status of this picturesque collection of islands and its beautiful people.

Not only is it a geographical and anthropological exploration of this remote part of British Columbia, it is a story of its people. From the past and modern-day struggles of the residents of Haida Gwaii to the environmental magnificence of this Canadian region, the film provides a captivating narrative of the land, its resources, and those who utilize them.

Through recurrent shots of whales coming up for air and sea lions resting on rocks in the ocean, the film is a sensory feast that never fails to impress or appeal. Seen as the land of health and beauty, the locals acknowledge Haida Gwaii as a place that knows how to heal itself. A paradise in its own right, the film relays the message that everything is indeed connected to everything. In essence, “everywhere you go, nature is there.” As a microcosm of cultural prominence, resilience, and environmental sustainability, Haida Gwaii is truly awe-inspiring in its fight against resource degradation, among many issues.

The importance of local tradition comes across throughout the film within portrayals of art, music, and general ways of living. The rising of a totem pole on this land symbolizes its success in maintaining its identity and environmental status over the years. The film also discusses current activism and ideals that are shaping Haida Gwaii’s future within the context of sustainability, optimism, and humanity at large. The revelation of the true self in terms of one’s place in the world is one that the viewer is bound to make after watching this piece.

Within the subtext of industry and nation, the film discusses important themes that relate to environment, health, and politics, to name a few. As a local in the film states, “Everything has its part, every part has its value, every value contributes to our life.” This statement really brings to the forefront the idea that local issues are just as important as global ones and are of utmost significance to the world’s past, present, and future.

From an environmental perspective of preservation and protection, the film serves as a lesson in history as well as an instruction for the future. One of the major takeaway messages from the film is that of self-sufficiency and reconnection in terms of how and where we live. You will definitely be left with a developing internal urgency to better sustain the resources we use and maintain a stronger connection to the Earth and how we use it. As cliché as it sounds, the film is a spiritual journey that encourages the viewer to adopt new ways of thinking and doing. A must-see for the eye and soul.