In the Land of the Head Hunters

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.

Appears in: Special Screenings

Genres: Documentary, Historical