Etthén Heldeli: Caribou Eaters
World Premiere on Citytv Saskatchewan
Sunday, October 21 at 10pm CST
Official Website: www.cariboueaters.com
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
(Regina, September 25, 2018) Etthén Heldeli: Caribou Eaters is a one-hour documentary that follows Déné people as they hunt, harvest, butcher, feast, and celebrate the caribou, an iconic species that has sustained and defined their people for thousands of years. The film is a celebration of the Déné people’s rich, ancient culture, a culture based on the interconnected elements of humans, caribou, and the land. Etthén Heldeli: Caribou Eaters is also a visual, poetic document lamenting age-old traditions that are in danger of vanishing if the caribou disappear. The documentary will have its World Broadcast Premiere on Citytv Saskatchewan Sunday, October 21 at 10 pm CST.
In subarctic Western Canada, there are three caribou herds: the Ahiak, Qamanirjuaq, and Beverly. These animals represent the largest and last great mammal migration on the North American continent. Once numbering in the millions, the Ahiak and Qamanirjuaq herds have been declining in alarming numbers over the last twenty years, while the Beverly herd’s migration routes have contracted so much that they no longer cross into the provinces of Saskatchewan and Manitoba. This means that the Déné people of northern Saskatchewan, who depend on caribou for meat and hides, are now forced to travel hundreds of kilometres north into the Northwest Territories and Nunavut to reach the herds.
Etthén Heldeli: Caribou Eaters is the first documentary production collaboration between 291 Film Company and Twisted Pair Productions, with the production based in Regina, Saskatchewan. It was shot in northern Saskatchewan, Northwest Territories, and Nunavut.
The Déné are faced with numerous challenges as they struggle to maintain their traditional, caribou-dependent lives. The animals are threatened, as always, by natural predation, disease, weather, and human harvest. Now, on top of that, insects and forest fires endanger their food sources and, increasingly, roads and power lines built by mining companies disrupt their migratory routes. For 18 years the Déne people have been negotiating with the Canadian government over Treaties 8 and 10, aiming to ensure Déné boundary rights to land that includes the caribou migratory routes as well as Déné cultural sites.
The documentary originated with a winter development trip to northern Saskatchewan. Director Ian Toews endured the harshest shooting conditions in his 20+ year career as a director and cinematographer. He followed a caribou hunt with Déné First Nations people from Black Lake, Saskatchewan. The expedition took them hundreds of kilometres by snowmobile, to the northern border of Saskatchewan and beyond - into the Northwest Territories.
“It was about-40 °Cwith the wind chill,” says Toews. “Very challenging conditions not just for the gear, but for the humans. Surviving in the cold, seeing the caribou, and witnessing the hunt were unforgettable physical and emotional experiences. And that was the challenge of this film – to put the viewer there experientially.”
Toews set out to complete the documentary with several more northern trips, including an aerial caribou survey in Nunavut. Working intrepidly as solo shooter/director, Toews also went on a 9-day long canoe trip, with Déné residents of Black Lake, down the Cree River in northern Saskatchewan This trip yielded a 1,400-pound moose—an alternate meat source for Déné people in times when their access to caribou meat has declined significantly.
Toews was given access to Déné culture and their sacred caribou herds—access rarely granted to media or outsiders. “This film aims to document a traditional way of life that is fading more and more with each generation,” says Toews. “I feel honoured to have been witness to the Déné way of life. To see caribou hunted, to see elders passing along knowledge to younger generations, and to travel their vast territory.”
Official Website + 360-Degree “Making of” Documentary
The program Etthén Heldeli: Caribou Eaters is accompanied by an official website which features 360-degree video depicting filmmaker Ian Toews and the long and arduous filming process. Viewers can watch it on their phones, using the YouTube app to get a unique interactive experience by rotating their phones around them to see in all directions. For the ideal immersive experience, watch it on a VR headset.
The official website also contains a program trailer, video clips, exclusive webisodes with footage not seen in the final program, and a ‘Caribou Blog’ featuring news and updates on screenings.
Etthén Heldeli: Caribou Eaters was shot and directed by Gemini Award-winning Director/DOP Ian Toews csc. It was produced by Executive Producers Mark Bradley and Ian Toews of 291 Film Company, and Producers Hildy Bowen, Cary Ciesielski, and Mike MacNaughton of Twisted Pair Productions. It was developed and produced in association with Rogers Media Inc. Production was made possible through the Screen-Based Media Production Grant Program (Creative Saskatchewan). It was produced with the participation of Canada Media Fund and The Canadian Film or Video Production Tax Credit.
About the Producers (291 Film Company Inc.)
Since 2004, Gemini Award-winning 291 Film Company has produced broadcast television series’ and one-off arts and nature documentaries for major Canadian broadcasters including documentary Channel, APTN, Oasis, Knowledge, VisionTV, Bravo!, and Citytv. 291’s shows are distributed internationally, in more than 40 countries.
About the Producers (Twisted Pair Productions)
Twisted Pair is a full-service media production company. From high-end audio & video production to mobile app & interactive development, if it’s media, Twisted Pair creates it.
About the Broadcaster (Citytv Saskatchewan)
Citytv television stations in Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Saskatchewan, and Montreal offer viewers intensely-local, urban-oriented, culturally-diverse television programming. Citytv is a part of Rogers Media Inc. a division of Rogers Communications Inc. (TSX: RCI and NYSE: RCI), which is a diversified Canadian communications and media company.
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Publicist, ETTHEN HELDELI: CARIBOU EATERS