Haida Gwaii (previously known as the Queen Charlotte Islands) is an archipelago located eighty miles off the coast of British Columbia. It is a vast and diverse land and seascape, home to the Haida Nation. In the past century, "The Islands on the Edge of the World” have been transformed by rapacious commercial logging and fishing. These industries reduced some of the most impressive coastal temperate rain forests of North America to vast clear-cuts and exploited the fish populations that have sustained the Haida people for ten thousand years.
This feature-length documentary will capture the beauty and strength of the declining harvesting practices, ceremonies and stories of the Haida. Threatened by the elimination of gathering grounds and economic disincentives, they are the core of the Haida's attitudes of respect and responsibility towards the land and sea because they promote environmental stewardship and self-restraint -- taking only what is needed. The film will show that preserving these traditions, and applying them to resource management strategies in a new era of Haida influence, keeps the spirit of the Haida people alive and provides the best hope for ecological revitalization in Haida Gwaii.
In the summer of 2010, funded by a grant from the Suquamish Tribe, we (director Benjamin Greené and production assistant Christina Wienhold) filmed and networked for three weeks in Haida Gwaii. We drove twenty-hours from Seattle to Prince Rupert, and took a six-hour ferry ride to Skidegate on Graham Island. We spent the first evening on a beach getting a feel for the contact point between land and sea, where the Haida harvest seaweed, clams, mussels, oysters, and crab. The next day we met Judd Russ, a young Haida carver who told us about his pilgrimage-like journeys to Slatechuck mountain for argillite, a special black soap stone reserved for the Haida. He hikes up the steep slopes of Slatechuck for several hours to the secret location, hammers out around one hundred pounds of argillite, and hauls it home on his back to carve. Over the course of our trip, we met and conducted interviews with professional pole carvers, a basket weaver who reclaimed the basketry tradition in Skidigate, an elder storyteller in Old Masset, harvesters, fisherman, hunters and a mountaineer. It was an extraordinary privilege to travel to this beautiful part of the world and be welcomed into the Skidegate and Old Masset communities to pursue this project.
We are now preparing for a final production in Spring 2011. The plan is to spend one month in Haida Gwaii in order to capture the spring harvest season and finish the film. Kickstarter funding will support all critical needs that make the production possible and approach its maximum potential. Every pledge brings us closer to our funding goal that will assure the completion of the project. Thank you for your support!
My partner Christina is teaching me how to knit, and we will together handcraft cotton washcloths, wool wrist warmers, wool hats and wool scarves, to reward generous supporters of this hand crafted documentary.
I hope the pledge rewards appropriately show our thanks, but your support goes much further. Your faith in this project is critical in actualizing the vision, and the realization of the vision assures that your gift keeps on moving. My goal is to share this vision with millions of people on PBS, CBC and limited theatrical distribution.
If we do not reach the funding goal by the deadline, your card will not be charged and the project will not be funded. It is all or nothing funding. To learn more about the ins and outs of Kickstarter, check out the frequently asked questions.
To learn more about my film work, visit: www.greenefilm.com
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