Thursday, 7 January 2010


Caroline Leaf: I made The Owl Who Married A Goose back in the early 1970s, a time when there were no Inuit animators, and the National Film Board of Canada was benevolently trying to tell the stories of all Canadian peoples. I went twice to the Canadian artic to make this film. I chose the story from a written text, and went to Holman Island to work with Nanogak, an Inuit artist who worked for me with cut-outs to suit my sand silhouette animation. While I was there I found out that the old women were great mimics of arctic animal sounds, because as girls they had accompanied their fathers on hunts, where making animal sounds brought the animals within range of the hunters. So, after animating the film in Montreal, I went back to the Arctic, to Broughton Island, with the soundless film and a list of sounds and sound effects I needed. Six old women sat around a microphone and made the sounds and laughed a lot. I got what I wanted, but it was puzzling, uncomfortable work. For example, after I screened the film, which is nine minutes long and involves the eggs of the owl and the goose hatching, one old lady got up and walked out, saying that what the film showed was not true, eggs take two weeks to hatch. I was never sure that I wasn't using the Inuit people. I knew that their stories were truth and history for them, and they didn't tamper with the storytelling or make personal changes. That is why the stories were remarkably the same across thousands of miles of the arctic. And I had had to change the story, to personalize the animals, to make it mine in order to be able to tell it. 

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