It’s been decades since salmon ran through Vancouver’s False Creek, but this summer, they will make a grand return in a cinematic spectacle titled Uninterrupted. The 30-minute film captures the spawn of Pacific salmon in British Columbia and will be projected onto Vancouver’s Cambie Bridge for public screenings throughout the summer.
Uninterrupted is the brainchild of Vancouver director Nettie Wild, who was inspired to create the video after witnessing a dominant salmon migration during a visit to B.C.’s Adams River in 2010. “It was…unbelievable,” she says. “It was this pulse, like this huge heartbeat of the Earth with millions of salmon coming up every rivulet, every tiny little stream. A lot of people were spontaneously bursting into tears—it was so moving.” Wild spent three days along the river, mesmerized by what she describes as “colossal moving art”, and began envisioning a way of capturing this phenomenon to share with the public.
After assembling a crew—including her producing partner Betsy Carson, producer Rae Hull, editor Michael Brockington, and cinematographer Athan Merrick—a long period of trial and error ensued, as they attempted to record high-quality footage while working in fast-moving, powerful rapids with, as Wild says, “a cast of millions that doesn’t take direction”. It was an arduous task, but one with great reward. “Once we got stability and a very high-end camera underwater, what it revealed was a wondrous world,” says Wild. “At 2,000 frames a second, you start to see the movement of a fish’s eye. You start to see when a tail whacks in the water and carves it into sculpture.”
Yet Uninterrupted is no postcard-pretty nature documentary. “Our golden rule was that if we had a frame that looked like a beautiful British Columbia postcard, we cut [it], and if it looked like an abstract oil, we rolled,” says Wild. The result is a stunning conceptual interpretation that plays out like a dream. The scenes are enhanced by an original score composed by Owen Belton, a captivating soundscape that includes the voice of First Nations elder and environmentalist Mary Thomas.
Wild hopes Uninterrupted will encourage people to think about their connections to the environment and feel inspired to take action, without lecturing or finger-wagging. “This migration has been going on since time immemorial,” she says, “and if we’re careful, it will continue, uninterrupted, into the future.”
Screenings will take place at Coopers’ Park at the north end of the Cambie Bridge, five nights a week from June 28 to September 24.
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