2023 FHFF Director Series "Best of the Fest"

Now Is the Time

Expired May 1, 2023 12:00 AM
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This 16-minute short film will be screening every thirty minutes during museum hours (11am - 5 pm) Friday, April 28 - Sunday, April 30 at the San Juan Islands Museum of Art.

The weekend of Robert Davidson events is made possible by a generous donation from Jay and Suzy Wakefield.


In 1969, when internationally renowned Haida carver Robert Davidson was only 22 years old, he was instrumental in changing the history of his people forever.

During visits to museums in Vancouver, Davidson had seen photographs of Old Massett Village, with its forest of totem poles facing the sea; but at home, there was nothing left. It wasn’t just the totems that had been razed and destroyed: Haida songs, ceremonies, and culture had also been obliterated. “I would go and visit the elders, and they seemed really, like, not connecting to anything,” he says. “I could feel the sadness, and I wanted to create an occasion for them to celebrate one more time.”

With help from his grandparents, his father, and his younger brother Reg, Davidson committed to carving the first new totem pole in almost a century.

On the 50th anniversary of the pole’s raising, Haida filmmaker Christopher Auchter steps easily through history to revisit that day in August 1969, when the entire village gathered to celebrate an event that would signal the rebirth of the Haida spirit. Resplendent with original footage shot by what was then known as the NFB’s Indian Film Crew, Now Is the Time is filled with archival images, animation, and emotional interviews with Robert, Reg, and Haida scholar Barbara Wilson.

The film’s bright, kaleidoscopic scenes show women dancing in their bare feet, men egging each other on, elders wearing paper headdresses, and children drawn in gorgeous watercolour hues. Everywhere is the sound of laughter and tears, as three generations of Eagle and Raven clan come together to raise the pole in the old way, inching it higher and higher, until it stands proud and strong against the clear blue sky.

In his studio, Robert Davidson smiles at the memory. “I was just a young smart-aleck kid thinking I was going to teach the elders something, but it turned around,” he says. “It was the other way around.”

  • Year
  • Runtime
    16 minutes
  • Language
  • Director
    Christopher Auchter
  • Cast
    Robert Davidson, Reg Davidson, Barbara Wilson