Price: $350.00

    Code: 2453

    Directed by Benjamin Greené
    2012, 70 minutes
    Purchase: $350 | Classroom rental: $125

    On a remote archipelago drifting off the northwestern edge of the North American continent known as Haida Gwaii (formerly referred to as the Queen Charlottes), an uncommon abundance of animal and vegetable life has sustained the Haida people for countless generations.

    Following individual food harvesters as they gather and prepare for the winter, Survial Prayer celebrates the modern ways of a remote indigenous community and bears witness to a profound relationship between individuals and the land that sustains them.

    In the past century however, commercial logging, over-fishing, and invasive species have compromised the availability of traditionally harvested foods and threatened the long-term viability of these practices. Compounding this ecological damage is the imminent extinction of the Haida language and loss of traditional knowledge.

    Naanii Mary Swanson, a last speaker, frames this portrait of age-old traditions at risk. Against the spectacular scenery of the North Pacific coastline, her ancient words set the tone for detailed views of modern life, in which the labor of survival cutting seaweed fronds, pulling salmon from nets, plucking young spruce tips speaks to timeless rhythms that still retain strands of sacred ritual.

    With scenes that favor the authority of silent acts and a rich visual vocabulary, Survival Prayer is an intimate ethnographic reflection that vividly illuminates the points at which nature and culture join to sustain human life.

    Subjects & Collections

    Festivals & Awards

    * Winner, Special Jury Prize for Direction, Sarasota Film Festival
    * Official Selection, Camden International Film Festival
    * Official Selection, Vancouver International Film Festival
    * Official Selection, Haida Gwaii Film Festival
    * Audience Favorite, Best Film Not Playing at a Theater Near You


    "The images remind me of the paintings of Caspar David Friedrich. Werner Herzog

    "A wonderful film, and a moving portrait of a people struggling to keep their traditional hunting and gathering ways alive to inspire new generations of Haida men and women. Wade Davis, National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence

    "Survival Prayer explores the power of food and nature to sustain a people. Rich with spectacular scenery of the North Pacific coastline and detailed descriptions of wild food gathering and preservation, this is a dreamlike film in which elders tell ancient tales describing how nature is tied to the nurturing of body and soul." EcoWatch

    "A soothing and welcome (and welcoming) experience...Suitable for high school classes and for college courses in cultural anthropology, environmental anthropology, development anthropology, anthropology of threatened cultures, and Native American studies, as well as general audiences." - Anthropology Review Database

    "Benjamin Greené's debut is an absolutely stunning piece of ethnographic filmmaking. The bond between the film's haunting score and beautiful imagery is as strong as the relationship between the filmmaker and subject. Greené shows incredible patience behind the camera, letting shots breathe and the story unfold at its own pace which helps transport viewers not only to the beautiful surroundings that he documents, but also to the pace of life the Haida embrace. Ben Fowlie, Founder and Director of the Camden International Film Festival

    Recommended for collections relating to anthropology, Native American studies, sustainability, and environmental studies. - Educational Media Reviews Online