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Grandmother’s stories come to life in animated short film

A North Island Indigenous filmmaker’s animated short about an impatient young mink will be shown May 11 at the Comox Valley Film Festival.

Ritchie Hemphill grew up in Alert Bay and is a self-taught filmmaker and musician. With his friend Ryan Hache, he turned a story his grandmother told him as a child into Məca, a stop-motion animated film about a mink who learns a valuable lesson about himself after searching the world for love.

The film is narrated by Hemphill’s grandmother Ida Smith, speaking the ‘Nakwaxda’xw language, in recordings he made when he was 11 years old.

“She passed away a year or so after that, so they’re kind of treasured recordings,” he says. “All these years later we thought it would be really cool to reanimate her stories, reanimate her, literally.”

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Hache, who did the animation work, says the film tries to capture the spirit of the original story with a message relevant for modern times.

“We thought there was a deeper message, our interpretation and the family’s interpretation,” he says. “Be true to yourself. You don’t need to go off and pretend to be another animal, pretend to be something that you’re not. You need to be just who you are. So, we really wanted that to be this poetic moment.”

Məca will be shown at the film festival Thursday afternoon, along with other Island short films.

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