by Roberta McDonald – West Coast Editor
(July 1, 2017 – Vancouver, BC) Finding enchantment amid the jarring urban environment may seem far-fetched. But for Nettie Wild, the director of Uninterrupted, bringing natural wonder to the heart of Vancouver is both urgent and necessary.
Inspired in 2010 by her experience witnessing the largest sockeye salmon run in 100 years, Wild began building a team to film the migration and bring the salmon’s majestic struggle to the hearts and minds of city dwellers. A bike ride with editor Michael Brockington resulted in looking at the pillars of the Cambie Bridge in a new way. Rather than dead concrete space, they envisioned a canvas to project the work on a large scale.
Working with producers Betsy Carson and Rae Hull, (the trio are now collectively referred to as the Salmon Sisters), the City of Vancouver was brought on board to provide access to the undercarriage of the busy urban connector.
At the preview event on June 27, First Nations Councillor Morgan Guerin and Alec Dan, Respected community member of the Musqueam First Nation, Chris Lewis, Spokesperson/Councillor of the Squamish First Nation and Charlene Aleck, Spokesperson of the Tsleil-Waututh First Nation welcomed Chief Oliver Arnouse and Councillor Dale Tomma of the Little Shuswap Lake Indian Band. Each shared moving accounts of their integral connection to salmon culminating in a ceremony returning the bones of a salmon to the water. The rhythm of drums and voices raised in song set a reverent tone for the evening.
“This has been the most exhilarating creative process of my life,” Wild exclaimed as she extolled the virtues of the multidisciplinary team that brought her vision to life. The diverse collective of artists and specialists includes technologist Anthony Diehl, cinematographer Athan Merrick and composer Owen Belton. As co-producer Rae Hull took to the stage, the resonant chants of dragon boat racers heightened the anticipation as they whizzed past the crowd gathered in Cooper’s Park.
Multiple donors provided financial funding, including the Pacific Salmon Foundation, the Canada Council for the Arts, and Vancity.
As the sun bathed the glass buildings in a golden glow, sounds of the wild began emanating from strategically placed speakers on the side of the bridge.
The piece began with watery reflections of False Creek, the twinkling lights of Science World rippling across the bridge as the soundscape of birdsong and rushing water calmed our senses. As the salmon began to swim into view, the crowd gazed up in wonder, some bringing their smart phones high in the air to capture the surprising visuals.
The piece traces the full migration of the salmon as they leap upstream, battle fiercely for space to lay eggs and finally, deposit the translucent red orbs, magnificent with potential. They occupy vast swaths of the bridge, creating a moving painting. After spawning, the dead salmon crystallize into exquisite formations The effect is fresh and invigorating, scenes of the salmon journey urban dwellers rarely get to witness showcased in spectacular fashion in the heart of the city.
A rapturous experience, Uninterrupted proves heart felt visual storytelling can still inspire awe and wonder and move us from cynicism to engagement.
Uninterrupted runs Tuesday-Saturday all summer, except during the Celebration of Light. Click here for more about Uninterrupted.
Based in Vancouver, Roberta McDonald is West Coast Editor for Northernstars.ca. She is a best selling writer, arts journalist and photographer. She has profiled extraordinary filmmakers, including Ang Lee and Sturla Gunnerson. Her short film The Spiral was released in 2014 and she is currently writing her first feature screenplay.