Youth film competition

The body remembers when the world broke open




Canada—Norway 2019 | 105 min

Subtitles: English
Directors, script: Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers, Kathleen Hepburn 
Cinematography: Norm Li 
Editing: Christian Siebenherz 
Cast: Violet Nelson, Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers, Charlie Hannah, Barbara Eve Harris 
Production: Lori Lozinski, Tyler Hagan, Alan R. Milligan | Experimental Forest Films, | Oslo Pictures,
Distribution: Experimental Forest Films



A violent boyfriend chases pregnant Rosie into the rainy streets without shoes. Áila finds this miserable figure, and invites her to come home with her to be safe. Rosie is used to taking care of herself, and her mindset of "me against the world" makes her keep her armour on even when she’s with people who want to help her.


Áila is forced to press information out of Rosie, who refuses to call the police or relatives about the situation. However, Áila manages to talk Rosie into entering a women's shelter. Rosie has her rucksack on at all times like she was ready to flee any moment and steals a wallet and drugs from her helper.


A wandering camera stops as if it's anticipating that someone will break the silence. Minimalistic depiction leaves room for emotions, and in a screaming silence the few words have value.

Director Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers       Director Kathleen Hepburn
Director                           Director Kathleen Hepburn
Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers



V I E W E R   R E V I E W


The tone of The body remembers when the world broke open is poignant and gloomy, like the murky rainy day in Vancouver when the story happened. An adventure unfolds when two women came across each other on the street. The common indigenous ties brought them together, yet the lived experience in vastly different worlds of class had distanced them. Coming from a close and harmonious family and living in a light-filled, tasteful, cozy apartment, Áila and her heartfelt sympathy seem incompetent to understand Rosie’s suffering, struggle, and concern, brought by her partner’s domestic violence and harsh living conditions. So was I. The film answered directly my question “why doesn’t she just leave?” In reality, it’s normal for victims to take 6 or 7 tries until they find themselves finally ready to move to a safe place. The encounter between Áila and Rosie was just a start for both of them to navigate a pathway through the struggles.


The film goes on slowly and hypnotically, the almost one single shot in this 16mm real time film, abundant closeups, moments of silence, have made me immersed in that intimate, emotional atmosphere easily, felt like I’m living in their moment, listening to their talks in Áila’s room, in the cab, in the safehouse. There are many tender scenes which speak to the greatness of a mother’s love and unity of women that have also deeply struck me. It’s a powerful feminist film that gives all women strength and encourages us to hold each other up in difficulties.


Yue, 25 yrs