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The Body Remembers When the World Broke Open (2019)

  • Drama
  • 1h 45m
  • Canada, Norway

Price: $4.99 + taxes and fees

This poignant collaboration from Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers and Kathleen Hepburn centres on a chance encounter between two Indigenous women in Vancouver.

In an audacious act of heroism and kindness, Áila (Tailfeathers) chooses to console a young woman she finds barefoot and sobbing in the streets. She soon discovers that Rosie (Violet Nelson) has just escaped an assault by her boyfriend. Compelled to take action, Áila brings Rosie into her home, and, over the course of the evening, the two women explore the after-effect of this traumatic event.

The Body Remembers When the World Broke Open is a brilliant collaboration between two of the brightest — and boldest — filmmakers in Canada. Tailfeathers, a member of the Kainai First Nation as well as Sámi from Norway, triples as lead, co-writer, and co-director. She shares writing and directing credits with Hepburn, whose 2017 film Never Steady, Never Still premiered at the Festival and was named to TIFF’s Canada’s Top Ten. Using 16mm and presenting their narrative in “real time,” the filmmakers craft a delicate intimacy, which lends emotion to this remarkable story of two women’s resilience, strength, and mutual support.

Taking its title from an essay by Indigenous poet Billy-Ray Belcourt, and based on a watershed moment in Tailfeathers’ own life, this story of a chance encounter between two women — living in the same Vancouver neighbourhood, but coming from distinct worlds of class and lived experience — reveals the necessity for Indigenous people to look out for one another in a society that’s too often indifferent to their existence.


Official Selection, 2019 Toronto International Film Festival

Content advisories: coarse language, sexual language

RBC is proud to support TIFF’s programming in honour of Indigenous History Month.

We work to make our programming accessible, and have set aside a limited number of free tickets. Please contact for more information.


Kathleen Hepburn

Canadian Distributor