“Haida Modern” will not be the only Robert Davidson documentary streaming online in June.
Starting on June 21 — new for National Indigenous Peoples Day — the award-winning documentary “Now Is the Time” will be launched on the National Film Board (NFB) website.
“Now Is the Time” revisits the day in August 1969 when Haida Gwaii gathered to help raise the first new totem pole in almost a century, which was carved by Davidson with the help of his grandparents, his father and his younger brother Reg.
Written and directed by Burnaby-based Haida filmmaker Christopher Auchter, the short documentary (16 minutes) received selection for the Sundance Film Festival last year.
“Resplendent with original footage shot … ‘Now Is the Time’ is filled with archival images, animation, and emotional interviews with Robert, Reg, and Haida scholar Barbara Wilson,” a release from NFB said.
“The film’s bright, kaleidoscopic scenes show women dancing in their bare feet, men egging each other on, elders wearing paper headdresses and children drawn in gorgeous watercolour hues. Everywhere is the sound of laughter and tears, as three generations of Eagle and Raven clan come together to raise the pole in the old way, inching it higher and higher, until it stands proud and strong against the clear blue sky.”
When the documentary was released last year, Davidson said his father had walked the forest for two weeks looking for a suitable tree for the pole that was raised, and he and his helpers carved it for 10 to 12 hours per day, six days a week most weeks.
He also said the idea to carve and raise the pole was inspired by his friendship with the elders of the day.
“When I moved to Vancouver, I saw the great art of my ancestors, then I came home and saw no art in the village, because we had been muted and outlawed from practicing our ceremonies and way of life,” he said. “I also sensed a feeling of sadness from the elders, and I wanted to create a reason for them to celebrate one more time in a way they knew how.
“This motivated me to commit to carving the totem pole.”
Six other new releases will also be coming to the NFB website in June, including the June 17 world premiere of “The Tournament,” a new short film by Winnipeg-based Métis filmmaker Sam Vint.
For more information, visit NFB.ca.
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