Historic B.C. aboriginal feature film celebrates centenary: In the Land of the Head-Hunters

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      The first feature film made in B.C. and the oldest existing feature film made in Canada—not to mention the first feature film to feature an entirely aboriginal North American cast—is back on the big screen, 100 years after its premiere.

      Both the Cinematheque and Vancity Theatre are celebrating the centenary of the film In the Land of Head-Hunters.

      As a mix of documentary and drama, the silent film was directed by Edward S. Curtis, an American photographer of aboriginal life. The film depicts the Kwakwaka’wakw (formerly Kwakiutl) people and culture of northern Vancouver Island, in a tale of love and war prior to European contact.

      The film premiered in New York City and Seattle on December 7, 1914 to critical praise but proved to be commercially unsuccessful.

      This restoration features John J. Branham’s original 1914 score performed by Vancouver’s Turning Point Ensemble. 

      Special guests will be in attendance, including SFU professor emeritus Colin Browne (who participated in the restoration of the film) at the Cinematheque. At Vancity Theatre, Browne will be joined by Bill Cranmer, Hereditary Chief, N'amgis First Nation; renowned K'ómoks and Kwakwaka'wakw artist Andy Everson; and Owen Underhill from the Turning Point Ensemble.

      It screens at the Cinematheque on December 5 and 6, and at Vancity Theatre on December 7.




      Dec 5, 2014 at 5:32pm

      Rush line only now for the centenary show Dec 7th. We will be bringing the film back for an additional screening at Vancity Theatre on Saturday January 10, at noon. Tickets will be on sale next week.


      Dec 8, 2014 at 8:15am

      ...will this incredible piece of history be coming to vancouver island, especially for those who live close to the area it was filmed and who are unable to get to the mainland?...