In Haida Gwaii: On the Edge of the World, filmmaker Charles Wilkinson has produced a surprisingly ebullient (and spectacularly lensed) finish to a trilogy that began with 2011’s Peace Out and continued with Oil Sands Karaoke (2013).
If the dire social and environmental concerns underpinning those films have only gotten worse, Wilkinson sees an answer in that paradise off the North Coast of B.C.
“It’s a completely alternate way of living,” Wilkinson said. “Here, you can’t look anywhere without seeing a screen that’s selling you something, usually something you don’t want or need. On Haida Gwaii, that doesn’t happen. It’s such a noncorporate existence, and that’s the message of the film. There’s a model there, I believe very strongly. If we can find a way of wrestling the corporations into some reasonable level of control, we can get our lives back.”
Among other matters, the film recounts the history of Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve and Haida Heritage Site, when local resistance prevailed over the logging industry and saved the region from near-total decimation. It’s inspiring stuff, although Wilkinson added that the lesson applies to any part of the world. “You can live that way in New York,” he said. “You don’t have to go to Haida Gwaii. Although I must say that going to Haida Gwaii is pretty cool.”
Wilkinson’s film screens at the Playhouse on Tuesday (September 29) and next Saturday (October 3), and at the Vancity Theatre on October 9.