Burnaby filmmaker's doc launches for National Indigenous Peoples Day

A Haida filmmaker from Burnaby will have a short film launching online in connection with National Indigenous Peoples Day June 21.

Christopher Auchter’s documentary Now Is The Time will go live on the National Film Board’s website on June 21.

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The 16-minute NFB documentary revisits a momentous occasion from 1969, when the Haida village of Masset, on Haida Gwaii, raised its first totem pole in more than a century.

In recognition of the 50th anniversary of the pole’s raising, Auchter’s film features an interview with renowned Haida carver Robert Davidson, who was just 22 years old when he carved the pole. The film uses first-hand accounts from Davidson and his younger brother, Reg (whom Davidson paid to help with the carving), as well as Haida scholar Barbara Wilson. Courtesy of a deep dive into both the National Film Board archives and the B.C. Archives, it also incorporates the voices of Haida elders.

Christopher Auchter
Filmmaker Christopher Auchter of Burnaby. - Tracy Auchter, contributed

Auchter, in researching the film, came to see that totem pole raising as a turning point for Haida culture. Before then, traditional culture - including language, dance, dress and ceremonial traditions – had been all but eradicated.

After that momentous day, it began to blossom again.

“It seemed like it was pointing to this pole-raising being a pivotal moment of it all,” Auchter said in a previous interview with the NOW. “It was the deliberate act that made it something people could turn to.”

Now Is The Time has been a success on the film festival circuit, becoming an official selection at numerous international festivals, including Toronto, Vancouver, New Zealand’s Maoriland Film Festival and the prestigious Sundance Film Festival in Utah.

Starting June 21, audiences around the world will be able to access it for streaming, free of charge, at www.nfb.ca.

For more on Auchter and the film, check out a previous Burnaby NOW feature here.

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