“To me, Yellowknife wouldn’t be Yellowknife without the dump.”
That’s how longtime Yellowknifer Walt Humphries ends the trailer for a new movie exploring the dump Humphries knows inside out.
Salvage, directed by Amy C Elliott, is an hour-long documentary about the people behind what the movie calls “one of the last and largest dumps in North America open to the public for salvaging.”
The movie’s premiere is scheduled for March 8, 2019 at the nine-day SXSW film festival in Austin, Texas – a decade after Elliott first began work on the project.
Beginning in 2009, Up Here magazine reported two years ago, Elliott made a series of five trips over five years from New York City to document the dump and local salvagers.
She told the magazine Yellowknife’s dump was one of the last of its kind in allowing open access for salvaging at the time.
“Believe it or not, as far away as it is, it was the closest, largest one still open in North America,” she said.
The movie documents how the City of Yellowknife tried to change the way salvaging worked during that five-year span of time, gradually shifting toward more regulation at the dump.
Though Elliott told Up Here magazine the conflict generated by those changes was not especially incendiary – “there was no march on City Hall or anything,” she is quoted as saying – the blurb for the movie’s trailer uses the City’s shift in approach to entice viewers.
“Mined by a colourful community of thrifty locals,” the trailer’s description reads, “[the dump] has long played a central role in the city’s civic and social life.
“But government bureaucrats are determined to see it tamed, and the battle for Yellowknife’s identity is on.”
Salvage won’t be Elliott’s first movie to feature at SXSW.
In 2014, while she was still shooting Salvage, another of her documentaries – Wicker Kittens, following the world of competitive jigsaw puzzling – also had its premiere at the Texas festival.