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Directed by Edward S. Curtis

United States 1914 70 mins.

VISITING ARTIST—Almost a decade before Robert Flaherty immortalized the Inuit people in Nanook of the North (1922), Edward S. Curtis filmed In the Land of the Head Hunters with an indigenous North American cast. Like Flaherty’s “documentary,” Head Hunters was both a reflection of contemporary life among the Kwakwaka’wakw people of British Columbia and a fiction that combined melodramatic elements with tribal customs. Lost in the decades after its release, Brad Evans and Aaron Glass worked with scholars, film archivists, and members of the tribe to reconstruct the film and its original orchestral score. Their recently published book, Return to the Land of the Head Hunters: Edward S. Curtis, the Kwakwaka’wakw, and the Making of Modern Cinema, includes a recounting of the film’s history, efforts to restore it, and other essays delving into the fascinating story behind this major piece of American film history.



The Northwest Film Center recognizes and honors the Indigenous peoples of this region on whose ancestral lands the museum now stands. These include the Willamette Tumwater, Clackamas, Kathlemet, Molalla, Multnomah and Watlala Chinook Peoples and the Tualatin Kalapuya who today are part of the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, and many other Native communities who made their homes along the Columbia River. We also want to recognize that Portland today is a community of many diverse Native peoples who continue to live and work here. We respectfully acknowledge and honor all Indigenous communities—past, present, future—and are grateful for their ongoing and vibrant presence.