The Kaska are facing off with the Tahltan. The Kaska drummers are so kick-ass good that the Tahltan ask them to play throughout the entire Stick Gambling tournament. Non stop. For two days. The drums drive the players – making them bend and weave to a driving beat that bounces off the canyon that hangs above the festival grounds in Iskut. Deep in Tahltan territory, in Northwest BC.

Mary Dennis explains how the game works with its secret hand signals and hidden tokens and I still don’t get it. But what I do understand is that this is a bunch of people transported by the spirit of the game.

We are filming during the first development days of our project.  Cameraman Jordan Paterson has joined me up north to help film extraordinary events before we even have a production budget raised.  The first day of the Stick Gambling tournament we filmed running the camera at regular speed and realized that the footage was not capturing the transcendent feeling of the game. So the next day Jordan suggested we film in slow motion and the magic began. We filmed some of the most beautiful footage I have ever captured– full of players, many of them women, their heads thrown back with the sheer joy of it all.


The ecstasy of Stickgambling, Tahltan Territory A scene from KONELĪNE: our land beautiful. A Canada Wild Production.

Tenesma (Mary Dennis) and Ajit (Carol Quock) shared their winning secrets:  “You follow your intuition. You are just guided. You go against your mind. If you keep getting “out” do different than what your mind is telling you – its coming from your heart.”