Haida an­i­ma­tor hits big screen

Short retells tra­di­tional sea-hunter tale

StarMetro Vancouver - - NEWS - David P. Ball

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.”

Cour­tesy Na­tioNal Film Board oF CaNada

A still from the an­i­mated film the Moun­tain of SGaana.

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