Local filmmaker Eva Wunderman is taking over the Hope Cinema Thursday, with back-to-back films Edna’s Bloodline and Canyon War: The Untold Story.
The films are being shown on the 160th anniversary of the Fraser River Gold Rush and the Canyon War, and offer both a retrospective of settler and Indigenous history and a look at some of Wunderman’s documentary work.
Each work is quite different, set in different parts of Canada and different historical periods, yet they each have to do with Indigenous peoples and their interactions with settlers and colonizers.
Edna’s Bloodline follows the first meeting of two great-grandchildren of an arctic explorer from Sweden, Petter Norberg, who live in wildly different parts of the world and are unknown to each other, to begin with. The film brought Wunderman to Canada’s high arctic, more precisely Kugluktuk, Nunavut.
A resident of Canada since 1981, her time in the Arctic was something completely different. Shooting a film in the unimaginable cold wearing six layers of clothing, and feeding on a wonderful diet of muskox and polar bear were some moments she remembers, as well as the seal hunt with Norberg’s granddaughter and former Commissioner of Nunavut Edna Elias.
“They took us out in this boat to go seal hunting and they take off, way out. I mean you don’t see land, there are no trees, so after a while, there is nothing but you and the ocean,” she said. “And you’re sitting there with no life jacket, and you’re thinking ‘well, life jacket, what do you need that for? If you fall in the cold water you’re not going to survive.’”
Edna’s Bloodline will screen first on Aug. 16, followed by Canyon War which delves into a little-known but bloody war waged between miner militiamen and Indigenous groups and how peace was achieved through the efforts of N’lakapamux Chief Spintlum and Henry Snyder, a U.S. miner and militia captain.
Wunderman said the first time Canyon War screened it was a full house—the history is hyper-local and many residents were extras in the film, so the connections to the community are plentiful.
Historian Daniel Marshall, without whom Wunderman said Canyon War would never have become a reality, will launch his latest work at the event Aug. 16. His book Claiming the Land: British Columbia and the Making of a New El Dorado focuses on 1858, the year of the Fraser River Gold Rush and some of its lesser-known histories.
Doors of the Hope Cinema open 7 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 16 with the film showing starting at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $10.
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