Haida animator hits big screen
Short retells traditional sea-hunter tale
When Haida animator Christopher Auchter chose a story to bring to screens worldwide, he discovered it was always in front of him.
His film The Mountain of SGaana has its B.C. premiere Thursday at the Vancouver International Film Fest.
“I was searching to tell a story from my culture, one that really touched me and got me excited,” the 37-year-old Emily Carr grad told Metro. “I wanted to capture some likeness of my grandpa; I used to commercial fish with him and had all that time to look down into that deep water and have an imagination of what’s under there.”
The film sees a master seahunter saved from a spiritworld orca village by his wife. “SGaana” means both “orca” and “supernatural,” he said.
After picking the tale, however, friend and renowned carver Jaalen Edenshaw informed him it was carved on a pole standing in Skidegate village.
“That was the one pole I remember standing tall when I was a kid,” Auchter said. “The story I told was actually carved on the pole all the time I was growing up!”
The National Film Boardproduced short retells the traditional sea-hunter story. However, this time, he said, “He is the one taken, and his wife goes after him to save him. There are so many strong Haida women … I wanted to show their strength.”
He saw his aunt’s weavings on display after a National Art Gallery screening. His sister sang the film’s songs.
Like carving or song, he said, animation can carry on Haida culture.
“This story is about my struggle to belong in culture and understand how powerful it is to know (its) stories and language,” he said. “It anchors you.”
A still from the animated film the Mountain of SGaana.