The Body Remembers When the World Broke Open (2019)

Rosie (Violet Nelson) is on the streets of Vancouver, without shoes and crying, having just escaped a violent altercation with her partner. It’s beginning to rain, and she covers her pregnant belly. In a split second, Áila (Elle-Maija Tailfeathers) comes upon Rosie and chooses to comfort her, bringing her to her apartment.

That momentary decision is the catalyst to The Body Remembers When the World Broke Open, as the two women spend the day together dealing with the ramifications of the trauma that Rosie has endured. Áila’s middle-class and happy life is juxtaposed with Rosie’s foster care upbringing and unhappy romantic life, which often clash in very small ways.

The film is the acting debut of Nelson, a member of the Kwakwaka’wakw First Nation, who conveys so much without saying much at all. Tailfeathers, who plays Áila, is Kainai First Nation (Blood Tribe, Blackfoot Confederacy) as well as Sámi from Norway. She also co-wrote and co-directed the film with Vancouver’s Kathleen Hepburn.

This evocative and dream-like film plays out in one-continuous shot, making the experience feel even more immediate and unforgettable.

Review by Kelly Boutsalis


Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers, Violet Nelson




Indigenous Stories, TIFF, Women's Stories

Canadian connection

Written and directed by Kathleen Hepburn and Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers
Vancouver, BC