Haida artist Kristi Lane Sinclair is almost ready to release a new art doc on the Gaag.iid.
The Toronto-based multidisciplinarian told the Observer she started the passion project about four or five years ago. Around that time she was working with a news organization and while visiting relatively remote communities, she would ask people to tell her Sasquatch stories.
Sasquatch is not the same as Gaag.iid, the fabled wild man with an urchin-pierced face, sometimes spelled Gaagiixid, but Sinclair did notice some likeness between the two legends.
“I started figuring out that linguistically I had seen something similar,” she said.
Inspired, she used Guujaw’s canoe at the Haida Heritage Centre to film a scene of a man tipping into the water. He nearly drowns and pulls himself to shore, but emerges as Gaag.iid, says a synopsis provided by Sinclair. For a later scene, she filmed a costume on stilts on the dirt road leading to Tow Hill.
“The story of Gaag.iid is a story that all Haida kids grow up hearing,” the synopsis says. “If you get lost in the bush or if your boat gets lost, you may become Gaag.iid.
“This doc looks into ‘What is Gaag.iid?’ There are definitely varying stories going around Haida Gwaii. Is it just a ‘wild man?’ Is it a supernatural being? Is it Sasquatch? Is it all of these things or is it folklore to keep kids from straying too far?”
Kristi Lane Sinclair is pictured in this submitted photo. (Kristi Lane Sinclair/Submitted photo)
The exploratory art doc is helped along by interviews with Haida hereditary chief Jim Hart, Guujaw, as well as Haida artists Jalen Edenshaw and Reg Davidson, who all recollect accounts of Gaag.iid and encounters.
“One final transformation is when the ‘Gaaglit Song’ kicks in and the film becomes an animation by Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas, a renowned Haida artist,” the synopsis continues.
Sinclair also told the Observer she enlisted Haida artist Christopher Auchter to do about a minute of animation for the art doc.
“It was very much a community project,” she said.
Though Sinclair was not able to give away too much more information about the plot, she added that the art doc will be “taking a different stance” on Gaag.iid, will be about 10 to 15 minutes long and relatively supernatural or magical in nature. She plans to start editing it next month and release it simply titled “Gaag.iid.”
The art doc will not be the first project Sinclair has been involved in with a focus on the Gaag.iid.
She recently released the short film “Retake,” a behind-the-scenes look at the making of “SG̲aawaay K̲’uuna/Edge of the Knife,” a film that focuses on the “wild man” and was also the first feature film spoken only in the Haida language.
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