“Haida Modern” will premiere on British Columbia’s public broadcaster, the Knowledge Network, at 9 p.m. on Tuesday, June 2.
The feature-length, award-winning documentary on Haida artist Robert Davidson, directed by Charles Wilkinson, will also stream online for free on knowledge.ca.
The documentary features observations from Davidson himself as well as fellow artists, art historians, politicians, rock stars and family members who describe the impact of his work, beginning with the carving of his totem pole in 1969, the first one raised on Haida Gwaii in 100 years.
“Robert’s call, through his work and his words, to revisit the wisdom of his 14,000 year-old culture is especially timely given the pandemic currently roiling the global community,” a release said.
“A pandemic that by all accounts is very much related to our lack of respect for the natural world and its creatures.”
In a phone interview, Davidson and Wilkinson also told the Observer they thought the premiere was timely given the pandemic.
“In the Haida belief system, as I understand it, man is not by any means the boss of the natural world,” Wilkinson said. “That means it’s up to us to treat our fellow inhabitants of the world with respect.
“When you think about the coronavirus, it would not have happened if we were treating the animal kingdom with … respect.”
Without pointing a finger at Wuhan, China, where the virus was first identified in December, Wilkinson said, “just in general the way that we treat industrial livestock” is difficult to defend on an ethical basis.
“It’s unnecessarily cruel and inhumane,” he said of caging animals and other practices.
“We should have been paying attention because the consequences are, as you can see, horrific.”
According to the BC Centre for Disease Control, coronaviruses are a large family of viruses found mostly in animals.
At the time of publication, the true origin of COVID-19 was not yet known.
Davidson said he was very concerned about the state of affairs in western culture, especially because he has five grandchildren.
“My concern is will the general population heed this major global warning? What more will it take to wake up?” he asked.
“People right now are talking about moving back to the economy. The economy that’s designed today is not working. What can we do to change that paradigm?”
The first step to make a change, he added, is awareness.
“COVID-19 seems to have pushed the pause button, which is what we all needed.”
“Haida Modern” won the Most Popular Canadian Documentary Award at the Vancouver International Film Festival last fall, and the Best Canadian Feature at the Available Light Film Festival in the Yukon. The film also opened the Kamloops Film Festival, closed the Victoria Film Festival and won Best Canadian Film at the 2020 Festival International du Film sur l’Art.
The film was produced in association with Knowledge Network, the Canada Media Fund and with the participation of the Rogers Documentary Fund.
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