Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Katarina Ziervogel, a member of Sagkeeng First Nation in Manitoba, is a Deaf screenwriter who helped create Finality of Dusk, a post-apocalyptic film that will have its Canadian premiere on Nov. 30 at the Whistler Film Festival in British Columbia.
Finality of Dusk is set in the year 2045. It’s a film about the few humans remaining on earth following an environmental disaster. Because of the poisonous air, those still alive must wear filtration masks at all times in order to survive.
Though the film is fictional, Ziervogel says the world could be heading to such a future.
“It’s a real possibility,” she said. “Climate change is already here, and we must continue to take immediate and necessary action to fight the climate crisis if we want to guarantee the safety of future generations.”
There’s a vital message in the movie.
“I hope this film will remind the audience that Mother Earth takes care of us by giving us the resources we need to live and breathe,” she said. “So, it’s important that we take good care of her and each other.”
The two main characters in Finality of Dusk are played by Marika Sila and Cherrel Holder. Sila, an Inuvialuk actor from Yellowknife, plays Ishkode. And Holder, who is from Trinidad, plays Niife in the film.
Their relationship in the movie is complicated by the fact they do not speak the same language.
“The challenge I experienced the most was moving all of the main characters' arcs forward throughout the story with minimal dialogue,” Ziervogel said. “But over-all, it was a learning curve.”
Ziervogel said Finality of Dusk co-writer and director Madison Thomas was the one keen on having two characters who spoke different languages.
“She asked for my help with the communication between Ishkode and Niife,” Ziervogel said. “That’s how I ended up working with her as a co-writer on this project.”
Ziervogel was a key asset in creating the film.
“Growing up, I experienced communication barriers, especially with people who don’t know American Sign Language, and it would get trickier if there were no ASL interpreter present and writing on a notepad was not an available option,” she said.
“When there’s a language/communication barrier between two individuals, it’s easier for them to walk away and move on to the next person. Niife is determined to break that barrier in this film despite Ishkode’s attempts to walk away. It shows that—cheesy as this may sound—love is a universal language that transcends countries, borders, barriers and differences. It is necessary for our survival.”
Finality of Dusk also includes Deaf actor Chris Dodd, who plays the character Odin.
“I see Odin as a parallel to Ishkode’s character,” Ziervogel said. “At the beginning of the film, Ishkode just lost someone very close to her and, as a survival instinct, she attempts to shut down any sort of emotions bubbling to the surface. That’s what happened to Odin after losing his entire family and, over time, he turns into a ruthless hunter after spending a long time on the road all alone. When Niife comes into the picture, Ishkode disregards her at first, but as they come to realize Odin is hunting them, she is given a choice to team up with Niife or stay on her own.”
Like Ziervogel, Sila believes the earth could one day face a catastrophic and devasting environmental crisis.
“With climate change and everything else going on, I think there is a chance it could happen,” she said.
Sila is hoping those who watch Finality of Dusk are inspired by her character.
“I’m hoping the Indigenous community can look at this and take strength from Ishkode and how she pushes through these challenges,” said Sila, who moved to the Alberta city of Canmore with her family when she was five.
Sila is now enrolled in a year-long program at the Vancouver Film School focused on producing and directing.
She said she’s pleased Finality of Dusk has limited dialogue as it enabled her to expand her acting skills.
“A lot of the film is based around the characters not being able to communicate with each other,” she said.
Sila added she’s hoping the film not only raises awareness about climate change, but mental health as well.
Thomas, who lives in Winnipeg, has Ojibwe and Saulteaux ancestry. Unlike other apocalyptic films, she did not want Finality of Dusk to be set in a major urban centre. She was keen to put the remaining survivors in her film under the microscope.
“With even small cities having become unlivable, the film instead focuses on a remote Indigenous First Nation in western Manitoba and the lands that surround it,” Thomas said.
Finality of Dusk also screens Dec. 1 and has a virtual screening on Dec. 4.
Ticket information can be found here: https://www.whistlerfilmfestival.com/films/2023/finality-of-dusk?fbclid…
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