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Haida Gwaii documentary wins top award at Hot Docs festival

Documentary filmmaker Charles Wilkinson’s latest work, Haida Gwaii: On the Edge of the World, won the Best Canadian Feature Documentary Award at the Hot Docs festival in Toronto.

Wilkinson says the film shows how the people of Haida Gwaii overcame issues of resource over exploitation, population loss, and how it’s now recovering.

He says his last two documentary films had negative portrayals of environmental degradation, but he wanted his next project to leave his audience with a sense of hope.

He says this film shows people that there is a way of living sustainably, that there is a model that works.

Wilkinson says his film’s portrayal of a simpler and slower island life resonated strongly with the Toronto audience, with many asking him how they can visit the islands themselves.

While Wilkinson says resource development is economically important in the northwest, he’s concerned whether the industry is economically sustainable

He says the traditional boom and bust cycle ultimately hurts the workers while only making a few rich.

Wilkinson adds that much of the debate over resource extraction pits two extremes against each other.

But he says, there should be a balance between having a job and being able to make a living versus destroying the environment, which is what he aims to illustrate with his film.

He’s currently discussing with the Knowledge Network, one of his partners, about airing the film on television.

More information on the film can be found at: www.charleswilkinson.com.

The trailer can be seen at here.

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