The Body Remembers When the World Broke Open

‘This is pretty normal, you know? – Yeah, which part? – It can sometimes take six or seven tries before they think they are ready. It’s a start.’

Rosie lives in the same neighbourhood of Vancouver as Áila. Their lives, however, could hardly be more different. While Áila listens to Joni Mitchell on vinyl in her tastefully furnished home, Rosie shares a flat with her child's violently abusive father-to-be and his mother. When Áila finds Rosie standing hurt and barefoot in the rain, she promptly takes her home. Told almost entirely in real time and composed mostly of close-ups, the encounter between the two women constitutes a delicate moment of exchange, which touches upon issues of motherhood, female self-care and the precarious situation of Indigenous women.
by Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers, Kathleen Hepburn
with Violet Nelson, Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers, Charlie Hannah, Barbara Eve Harris, Jay Cardinal Villeneuve, Sonny Surowiec, Tony Massil, Joan Boisjoly
Canada / Norway 2019 English 105’ Colour


  • Violet Nelson (Rosie)
  • Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers (Áila)
  • Charlie Hannah (Cat)
  • Barbara Eve Harris (Sophie)
  • Jay Cardinal Villeneuve (Cory)
  • Sonny Surowiec (Taxi Driver)
  • Tony Massil (Neighbour)
  • Joan Boisjoly (Gladys)


Written and Directed by Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers, Kathleen Hepburn
Cinematography Norm Li, csc
Editing Christian Siebenherz
Sound Design Håkon Lammetun
Sound Ingar Pederson
Production Design Liz Cairns, Sophie Jarvis
Costumes Stina Lunde
Make-Up Win Liu, Meaghan Zwick
Assistant Director Jennifer Nelson
Casting Kris Woz, Kara Eide
Production Manager Madeleine Davis
Producers Tyler Hagan, Lori Lozinski, Alan R. Milligan
Executive Producers Jason Delane Lee, Yvonne Huff Lee, Matthew Soraci
Co-Producer Dyveke Bjørkly Graver

Produced by

Experimental Forest Films

Violator Films

Tannhauser Gate

Oslo Pictures

Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers

A filmmaker, writer and actor, she holds a degree in First Nations and Indigenous studies from the University of British Columbia and is an alumna of Berlinale Talents. Her short documentary Bihttoš (Rebel) won the Grand Jury Prize for Best Short Documentary at the Seattle International Film Festival and screened in the 2017 NATIVe section of the Berlinale. She is Blackfoot from the Kainai First Nation (Blood Reserve) as well as Sámi from northern Norway.


2011 Bloodland; short film 2012 A Red Girl’s Reasoning; short film · Colonial Gaze: The Sámi Artists’ Collective; mockumentary 2014 Bihttoš (Rebel); documentary 2015 Mavericks, Season II: Episode – Dr. Esther Tailfeathers; documentary 2016 GichiKiiwenging; documentary · Versaearcolonion (Con(versa)tional Strategies B(ear)ing Witness to the Dialectics of De(colon)ial Interpersonal Reconciliat(ion)) 2017 Untitled; short film · Radio-Check; animation · c̓əsnaʔəm: the city before the city; documentary 2019 The Body Remembers When the World Broke Open

Bio- & filmography as of Berlinale 2019

Kathleen Hepburn

Born in Vancouver, Canada, she is a writer and director who holds a BFA in film production and an MFA in creative writing. Her debut film Never Steady, Never Still premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival and went on to be nominated for eight Canadian Screen Awards, including for Best Picture. The Body Remembers When the World Broke Open is her second feature film.


2007 Kettle; short film 2010 It’s Not as If We Haven’t Been Here for a While; short film 2011 A Land That Forgets; short film 2015 Never Steady, Never Still; short film 2017 Never Steady, Never Still 2019 The Body Remembers When the World Broke Open

Bio- & filmography as of Berlinale 2019