The legend of ‘Tzouhalem’ is coming to the big screen – Campbell River Mirror

Fresh from a premiere at the Whistler Film Festival, Tzouhalem the untold story of the legendary warrior, will be available for viewing in the Cowichan Valley in March.

The film is produced by Orca Cove Media, a production company that focuses on authentic First Nations and Indigenous content, and is co-directed by Harold Joe and Leslie D. Bland.

A member of the Cowichan tribes, Joe grew up hearing oral legends of the fiercest warrior to ever fight in the Pacific Northwest.

“This film is used to preserve an important character and an important part of the story. A film like Tzuahlem was never done. No one has ever had the opportunity to make a movie like this,” Joe said. “I’m honored that we’ve had the chance to take an oral history like this and bring it to life. It’s such a pleasure to do a documentary like this in my own backyard, about an iconic figure in our Cowichan community – and the story of his life will live on for years to come. So for me to take a story that has been told orally and turn it into a film is a supreme honor to be a part of it.”

According to a press release, Tzouhalem examines details handed down by First Nations historians and elders, the impact Tzouhalem had on the modern Crown-First Nations relationship, and how his legend lives on today. He explores how his story was told and transmitted, and by whom.

The documentary story is told through interviews and creative re-enactments and examines the near-mythical figure of Cowichan Chief Tzouhalem and folk tales about him.

“The Cowichan community, my people, were truly receptive to telling this story, with open arms. Not only the community, but the Cowichan Tribes were also very open and supportive of the film. Many Elders and community members participated in interviews and participated in the re-enactments,” said filmmaker Harold Joe. “Everyone in the community knows Tzouhalem, from the history of our people. There were a lot of misconceptions out there from non-natives based on what they had heard about our legendary leader. So it was important for First Nations to share this story – coming from our elders and an old hand written story from the late Abel Joe to make sure we were on the right track.

Joe said he always hoped to share the film with a wide audience.

“I had dreamed that thousands and tens of thousands of people would see it, because it is a unique, powerful story and a real story that is important to our people,” he said. “I’ve got more Cowichan stories planned – it’s an endless supply of ideas to come. Tzouhalem is just one of many who come from our community, but he’s still the one who stood out to me the most initially, because he has such a long arm to reach so many people.

Pending provincial health restrictions related to COVID-19, the film will screen at 7 p.m. on March 4 at the Chemainus Theatre, at 7 p.m. on March 5 at the Cowichan Performing Arts Center in Duncan and in the matinee at 2 p.m. on March 13, also at the Cowichan Center for the Performing Arts.

For those who can’t make those dates, the film will also air at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. on March 11 at Cinecenta UVIC in Victoria.


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