Salvage is about the city dump in Yellowknife, Canada - the largest (and one of the last) dumps in North America still open to the public for salvaging.
Beloved by locals and a thorn in the side of city bureaucrats, it has long had a central place in the town’s civic and social life. The film chronicles the critical five-year period when it changes from the wild free-for-all it has always been, to a tamed, regulated and essentially closed landfill.
All sorts of people go there to search for all sorts of things - from home goods to building supplies to food. That may sound strange, but it makes sense in Yellowknife, the remote capital of the Northwest Territories. Founded in 1935 as a gold mining town near the Arctic Circle, Yellowknife’s extreme remove isolated it over its short history and fostered a self-reliant frontier culture that is only now fading. Salvaging was born out of necessity and continues today as an expression of thrift and proud tradition.
The film follows a group of dedicated salvagers who must adjust as the dump evolves. As the city increasingly restricts access, the salvagers and the “Northern values” they personify become increasingly irrelevant. Yellowknife is well on its way to becoming a modern Western city, and the dump is no longer a great attraction. This transformation has profound ramifications for not only this band of residents but also the very character of their hometown.
SXSW 2019 Film Festival Official Selection
“In Salvage, director Amy C. Elliott (Wicker Kittens) plunges knee-deep in refuse and emerges with a highly entertaining, informative, briskly paced and quite profound documentary about Yellowknife’s (sadly) fading favorite pastime.” - Christopher Llewellyn Reed, Hammer to Nail
“Salvage is a fascinating documentary and viewers will gain perspective on what it means to be part of a consumer culture.” - Raquel Stecher, Quelle Movies
About the filmmaker
Amy C. Elliott is a photographer and documentary filmmaker based in New York City. She has been shooting motion and still editorial assignments for over fifteen years, with a particular focus on regional American culture. She directed and shot the feature documentaries Wicker Kittens (2014) and World’s Largest (2010). She was awarded the American Society of Media Photographer’s Best of 2012 honors for The War Within, a major multimedia project for The American Legion, focusing on post-traumatic stress disorder in veterans. Other clients include The New York Times, American Road and The Public Art Fund. She is a graduate of Princeton University.