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2019.08.02 Film in endangered dialect with 20 speakers premieres in UK
In April, a film titled "SGaawaay K’uuna," translated as "Edge of the Knife" premiered in the UK. This movie, originally released in 2018 in Canada, depicts the lives of Haida people of British Columbia, using only their endangered language.

The Haida are an Indigenous First Nations community whose traditional territory is Haida Gwaii (formerly Queen Charlotte Islands), an archipelago of forested islands off the west coast of Canada. The territory was colonized by the British in the 19th century, which resulted in the devastating decline of Haida population by the spread of diseases such as smallpox as well as by the assimilating policy by the Canadian government.

The ancestral tongue of Haida has only about 20 people in the world can speak fluently. It is unrelated to any other language, and actors had to learn it to understand their lines. The film with English subtitles, set on Haida Gwaii in the 19th century, is based on an old Haida myth about a man who survives an accident at sea, only to become so weakened that he is taken over by supernatural beings. It is part of a wider push to preserve the Haida language, including a new dictionary and recordings of local voices.

"Edge of the Knife" was among the top ten winners at 2018 Tronto International Film Festival. The UK premiere is part of the Canada Now film festival, showcasing new Canadian cinema, at the Curzon Soho, London.

2019 is Unesco’s Year of Indigenous Languages, “to preserve, support and promote” them worldwide. There is a similar situation in Japan, with the indigenous Ainu language being endangered. Perhaps the Japanese will have a lot to learn from this film. Japan premiere is highly anticipated.