The Body Remembers When The World Broke Open

Directors: Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers; Kathleen Hepburn

Featuring: Violet Nelson, Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers

Language: English

Runtime: 105 minutes

Rating: PG


One of the year’s most acclaimed Canadian films since its premiere at the Berlin festival, this captivating real-time drama portrays the intersecting lives of two different Indigenous women who are brought together by a moment of crisis on the streets of Vancouver. The intimacy and intensity of these characters’ experience becomes a means of exploring deeper themes of trauma, motherhood, class difference and the legacy of colonialism. The film’s strength and power are a testament to the sensitivity and skill of its two directors Kathleen Hepburn (NEVER STEADY NEVER STILL, KCFF16) and Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers, who also appears on screen both in her own film and elsewhere at KCFF in BLOOD QUANTUM.

Filmmaker Bio

Kathleen Hepburn is a Vancouver born writer and director whose debut feature, NEVER STEADY, NEVER STILL, which Variety Magazine calls a “stoically broken hearted debut,” premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2017 and was awarded Best Canadian Film and Best Director by the Vancouver Film Critics Circle, as well as Special Jury Prize at the Dublin International Film Festival. It went on to be nominated for eight Canadian Screen Academy Awards including Best Picture. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing, and a BFA in Film Production from the Universities of Guelph and Simon Fraser respectively. THE BODY REMEMBERS WHEN THE WORLD BROKE OPEN is her sophomore feature, co-written and co-directed by Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers.

Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers is a writer, director, producer and actor. She is a member of the Kainai First Nation (Blood Tribe, Blackfoot Confederacy) as well as Sámi from Norway. She graduated from the University of British Columbia with a Bachelor’s Degree in First Nations Studies and a Minor in Women’s and Gender Studies. She is also an alumni of Vancouver Film School’s Full-time Acting Program.

She began her filmmaking career in 2011 with the experimental short, Bloodland. Since then, she has gone on to explore narrative fiction, documentary, mockumentary, music video, and archival video remix. Her work is often community focused and rooted in social justice. Her award-winning films have screened at festivals around the world including the Berlinale International Film Festival, the Vancouver International Film Festival, imagineNATIVE Film and Media Arts Festival, the Seattle International Film Festival, and the TIFF Top Ten Festival. Her films have been broadcast on the CBC, Bravo, APTN, and the Knowledge Network.

Elle-Máijá was named the 2018 Sundance Film Institute’s Merata Mita Film Fellow and is an alumni of the Berlinale Talent Lab, the International Sámi Film Institute’s Indigenous Film Fellowship, and the Hot Docs Doc Accelerator Lab. She is also a member of the Embargo Collective II. She was presented with the 2014 Vancouver Mayor’s Arts Award as an emerging artist in film and new media and a Vancouver Women in Film Kodak Image Award for her work on A Red Girl’s Reasoning.  Her short documentary Bihttoš was included in the TIFF Top Ten Canadian Shorts and also won the Grand Jury Prize for Best Documentary Short at the Seattle International Film Festival. She is currently directing a feature-length documentary (with the support of the National Film Board of Canada and the Hot Docs Cross Currents Fund) on her community’s brave response to the ongoing opiate-crisis. She is also co-writing and co-directing a narrative feature film with Kathleen Hepburn slated for release in early 2019.

She won the Best Lead Actress in a Dramatic Program or Limited Series Canadian Screen Award as well as the VWIFF UBCP/ACTRA award for her role in On the Farm (aka Unclaimed). She was also nominated for Leo Awards for her performances in Not Indian Enough and On the Farm (Unclaimed), and nominated for American Indian Motion Picture Awards for her roles in White Indians Walking and On the Farm (aka Unclaimed). Her acting credits include roles in the upcoming features Blood QuantumThe Body Remembers When the World Broke Open, and On the Farm, Not Indian EnoughWhite Indians WalkingThe GuardThe ReaperShattered, and Another Cinderella Story. She has also appeared on stage in Presentation House Theater’s Where the River Meets the Sea and Beaivváš Sámi National Theater’s Silbajávri.

Her creative and non-fiction work has appeared in publications such as Biography (an interdisciplinary journal from the University of Hawaii Press), Š Bláđit (Sámi Youth Magazine, Norway), Richard Van Camp’s Good Medicine Project, Redwire Magazine, Windspeaker, and Briarpatch Magazine.

She is a member of the DGC and UBCP/ACTRA.


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