Eden Robinson and her latest award-winning novel, Son of a Trickster. (File photo)

Film crews to shoot Monkey Beach in Kitimat and Kitamaat Village

Award-winning Haisla author Eden Robinson talks about her first novel’s adaptation to the screen

More than 17 years after Kitimat author Eden Robinson’s first novel Monkey Beach hit the shelves, the book is being adapted to the big screen.

This summer and fall, filming crews will be shooting the movie in Kitimat and Kitamaat Village in the northwest of B.C., where the award-winning novel is set.

“That would be incredible. Having the opportunity for our youth and people in the community to work on a film about their territory in their territory would be amazing,” Eden Robinson said of filming in Kitimat.

“It very important to actually have the places that are in the book and in our history appear on screen. Indigenous people aren’t on television or screens a lot yet. The Haisla have been basically invisible, except for a couple of documentaries. I think it would be a very pivotal moment.”

READ MORE: Eden Robinson wins again

When the option for film rights was being sold — more than a decade ago — Robinson chose documentary film director Loretta Todd. It will be Todd’s first feature.

“Of all the people who tried to option the novel, I loved her approach,” Robinson said. “I loved her sensitivity to the material and her embrace of the culture and her willingness to come up to Kitimat and speak to people.”

Of course, Todd hired Robinson to adapt Monkey Beach into a screenplay. After three years of writing, however, Robinson said it was too frustrating. She had a 300-page screenplay by the time she decided to give up.

“I fired myself,” Robinson said with a booming laugh.

Over the next 10 years, Todd made sure Robinson was still included in the screenplay process, even if she wasn’t writing it herself. Robinson and her dad would read each version together.

“There has been a lot of shift in the adaptation from the novel to the screenplay, but having banged my head against it for so long, I can see why.”

Fans of Monkey Beach will notice that the movie has brought the story from the ’80s to the present day. Robinson said this was to make it easier to shoot in Kitimat. The movie will have the same back-and-forth flow through time it became known for, although condensed for screentime.

Working in the world of Monkey Beach again is like being in a timewarp, Robinson said. Now in her fifties — and with bestsellers like Son of a Trickster now penned — the author said it reminds her of the work that went into writing it. The book’s story, which follows a woman struggling with the disappearance of her younger brother while experiencing dreams of the titular Monkey Beach, still resonates with readers today.

In the movie, Robinson hopes people will “see an ordinary family dealing with an extraordinary circumstance. The story’s more about the power of family, community and love.

“I’m looking forward to seeing the Haisla people on screen,” Robinson said. “The people who are acting in it, the people who are the extras, the people who are working in the background — just to see my community have a very different kind of spotlight.”



keili.bartlett@thenorthernview.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

What you need to know to vote in Canada’s federal election

Voting guide for Terrace, Kitimat up to Telegraph Creek

B.C. seniors advocate touring Northwest B.C.

Seniors advocate Isobel Mackenzie will be visiting Terrace, Kitimat and New Aiyansh Oct.15-17

Former Terracite Mathew Fee finishes cross-Canada trip on BMX bike

Fee biked more than 7,000 kilometres to raise awareness about addiction treatment

Terrace Search and Rescue headquarters gets $100K boost from Prince Rupert Port Authority

Investment to help grow regional response capacity in Northwest B.C.

Metlakatla, Lax Kw’alaams, Nisga’a and Haisla commit to fight climate change internationally

First Nations launch Northwest Coast First Nations Collaborative Climate Initiative

B.C.’s rural paramedic program expands, with home support

Advanced care ambulance staff added for six communities

EDITORIAL: Is researched, reasoned journalism the next endangered species?

#Newspapersmatter now more than ever: “In print that privacy is yours to keep”

BC Ferries sees steady traffic of post-Thanksgiving weekend travellers

Ferries filling up fast, sailing waits at some terminals

‘Save the kids!’ Dorian survivor tells the harrowing story of his Canadian wife’s death

Family held a funeral and placed Alishia Liolli’s remains in a niche at a cemetery in Windsor, Ont.

Okanagan woman, 91, votes at advance polls despite broken hip, shoulder and wrist

Angela Maynard has voted in almost every election during her lifetime

Heiltsuk Nation open first Big House in 120 years in northern B.C.

Opening means the community now has an appropriate space for spiritual and ceremonial events

Singh says NDP would form coalition with the Liberals to stop Tories

Singh was in a Liberal-held riding Sunday afternoon in Surrey where he was pressed about his post-election intentions

‘My heart goes out to the mother’: B.C. dad reacts to stabbing death of Ontario boy

Carson Crimeni, who was also 14, was bullied relentlessly, his dad says

BC Ferries filling up fast with post-Thanksgiving weekend travellers

Monday anticipated to be busiest day of the weekend

Most Read