Film Review – The Body Remembers When the World Broke Open

The Body Remembers When the World Broke Open

Director: Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers, Kathleen Hepburn

With: Violet Nelson, Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers. (English dialogue)

Running time: 105 MIN.

Rated 14A (14A) Coarse Language

Location: Casa

Date: April 16, 2020

At the Standoff Medical Clinic on the Kainai Reserve, patients receive care from the well- respected Dr. Esther Tailfeathers M.D.. Her impact has entered a new sphere the silver screen. Dr. Tailfeathers daughter, Elle-Máijá is being celebrated globally for her film “The Body Remembers When the World Broke Open.

The Body Remembers When the World Broke Open stands out in a field of generic, predictable dramas, not simply in terms of representation — though the female-made, Indigenous-focused thriller offers a field day for cinephiles. The story unfolds in a most unconventional way. This resourceful Canadian micro-indie establishes an immediate, urgent language all its own to confront the problem of domestic abuse, making the issue personal for both the characters and their audience.

After a healthy tour of the festival circuit — where such a project ticks multiple boxes on the identity-politics ballot — The Body Remembers comes to Lethbridge for the first time on April 16 to open the Lethbridge Living Film Festival.

It amplifies marginalized voices. While it can be tough at times this discomfort speaks to the film’s senses of authenticity and activism alike.

Co-written and directed by Canadian filmmakers Kathleen Hepburn and Elle- Máijá Tailfeathers (who also plays one of the leads), The Body Remembers centers on the spontaneous connection between two women, both of indigenous descent but hailing from very different social classes, who meet by chance at an East Vancouver bus stop. Prim and professionally dressed, Ália (Tailfeathers) has just come from a gynecological exam when she notices blue-haired Rosie (newcomer Violet Nelson) standing barefoot and panicked in the rain. Halfway down the block, Rosie’s boyfriend is shouting violent threats. As if by instinct, Ália intervenes, grabbing Rosie and rushing the two of them back to her apartment.

The camera hastily follows, a concerned witness to a scene everyone else within earshot seems too embarrassed to acknowledge. When couples fight behind closed doors, it’s easy enough to ignore, but when the violence spills out into the street, as it does here in this movie and in our own community, the issue becomes everybody’s problem. The Body Remembers essentially obliges us to engage.

The Body Remembers When the World Broke Open makes it Blackfoot Confederacy Premiere at the Lethbridge Living Film Festival at Casa. For more information about tickets and times visit
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