A technician works on the blend of cinematic storytelling and high-tech art installation under the Cambie Street Bridge in Vancouver.

A technician works on the blend of cinematic storytelling and high-tech art installation under the Cambie Street Bridge in Vancouver.

Paying tribute to a primeval passage

Uninterrupted celebrates the Adams River sockeye run in an extraordinary way.

This year, the migration of Adams River Sockeye will take a detour, a magical stop in Vancouver.

It was seven years ago, 2010, when internationally acclaimed documentary film director Nettie Wild witnessed a spectacle that, as she puts it, changed her life.

Wild, from Vancouver, was one of the more than 160,000 people who made their way to the Shuswap to stand on the banks of the Adams River that year. There, she witnessed the incredible run of close to four million sockeye salmon who had journeyed more than 600 kilometres from the Pacific Ocean to spawn.

“I was completely and utterly overwhelmed. It changed my life. I was so stunned by what I saw… For me to see a run of that magnitude was beyond belief. I felt I was witnessing a moment when the world was right… It was exhilarating.”

Then, aside from the sheer force of nature, as an artist she saw something else.

“When I looked down into the pool of extraordinary circling green and red, I saw patterns of colossal moving contemporary art. As an artist, I thought, can I possibly work with this?”

And so her journey began. It would sweep her along towards the creation of Uninterrupted, a monumental and innovative public spectacle – the high-tech projection of footage of the Adams’ River sockeye run onto Vancouver’s Cambie Street bridge, which spans Burrard Inlet and False Creek. Fittingly, she says, False Creek once teemed with salmon.

Viewing will take place from Coopers’ Park at the bridge’s north end, five nights a week, 10 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday, from June 28 to Sept. 24. On Aug. 15, the time will drop to 9 p.m. Viewing is free and family friendly. Eight hundred people per night, standing, will be able to experience the cinematic spectacle. An accessible viewing area is available.

Wild and her Canada Wild Productions, with producer Betsy Carson, have produced several internationally acclaimed films, but none like this.

Projecting onto the legs of the bridge and its entire underbelly has required “very, very cutting edge” – or “bleeding edge” – technology, as her editor calls it – essentially making up rules as they go along.

“The bridge has all these different surfaces, and the salmon have a mind of their own. A cast of millions, all of whom have their own minds. It’s thrilling and really hard,” she smiles.

Essential to the process has been what Wild describes as “one of the world’s most special cameras.”

While an ordinary camera would shoot 24 frames per second, this one takes 2,000. Donated, and installed in underwater housing, it weighs 150 pounds.

“Underwater, it’s a whole other extraordinary world of movement and light. To film underwater is heaven….” she enthuses.

Wild relays how a couple of fish spawning will have a dust-up.

“It happens as fast as it takes to click your fingers, but makes 30 to 40 seconds of amazing cinema. It’s a whole domestic drama playing out; they carve the water with their fins and tails…”

Making her journey of discovery possible were the people on the river who welcomed her and her crew into their traditional territory. First Nations people have a deep understanding and connection with salmon, she acknowledges. “They live it.”

Along with the Adams River, over seven years she also filmed on the Sproat and Pitt rivers. Several First Nations were behind the project, including Little Shuswap and Neskonlith. The staff at Roderick Haig-Brown Provincial Park and the Adams River Salmon Society were also a huge help, she says, explaining that an “incredible army of people” have made the project possible.

The Thomas family allowed the voice of late Neskonlith elder Mary Thomas to be used in the 25-minute film. Although there is no narration, says Wild, the film “uses her voice as the spirit of the river, telling the story of the salmon in her language.”

The film is a celebration, she emphasizes, not a science lecture.

“It is a celebration that contemplates water, current, light, fish and even the city. It’s not setting up cities as an opponent.”

A short animated teaser runs beforehand.

“It’s a time when we thank various First Nations, funders, and there’s also a little surprise on the bridge. If you go to our website and if you actively engage with funders who are restoring habitat, your name will end up on the bridge.”

Her hope for the cinematic spectacle is that it imbues the kind of wonder that the sockeye run itself does.

“We are crystal clear and humble about what our objectives are. Our job as artists is to create a cinematic experience that takes people to a place they’ve never been before…

“I’m hoping it will trigger curiosity which will lead them to our website (uninterrupted.ca) and there they will find truly extraordinary people. It’s where people can go to help create a habitat more sustainable for sockeye in lots and lots of ways.”

Wild is hopeful people from the Shuswap will “migrate downriver” to come see the Adams River sockeye in their cinematic habitat.

Why the name, Uninterrupted?

“When I was standing on the banks of that river, I was really moved by something that has been going on since time immemorial, uninterrupted. If we as human beings cared, know enough to care, we can ensure they can swim uninterrupted into the future.”

 

The Cambie Street Bridge in Vancouver is illuminated with the cinematic spectacle, Uninterrupted.- Image credit: Michael J.P. Hall photo.

The Cambie Street Bridge in Vancouver is illuminated with the cinematic spectacle, Uninterrupted.- Image credit: Michael J.P. Hall photo.

Uninterrupted director Nettie Wild has spent many hours over the past seven years filming underwater in B.C. rivers.- Image credit: Michael J.P. Hall photo.

Uninterrupted director Nettie Wild has spent many hours over the past seven years filming underwater in B.C. rivers.- Image credit: Michael J.P. Hall photo.

Just Posted

Robert Nelson, 35, died after being stabbed at a homeless camp in Abbotsford on April 7 of this year.
Mom pleads for information about son’s killing at Abbotsford homeless camp

Robert Nelson, 35, described as ‘man who stood for justice, honour, respect’

FVRD surveyed public opinion on cannabis production and processing in the electoral areas. Odour and distance from residential areas were the top concerns. (Black Press file)
Cannabis production and processing rules being drafted by Fraser Valley Regional District

Data from public opinion survey will be used to guide cannabis-related land use

Police arrest the suspect in an attempted armed bank robbery on June 2 at the Scotiabank at Gladwin Road and South Fraser Way in Abbotsford. (Photo by Garry Amyot)
Abbotsford bank robbery suspect who was stopped by customers faces more charges

Neil Simpson now faces total of eight charges, up from the initial two

Vancouver Canucks captain Bo Horvat greets fans outside of the Abbotsford Centre prior to the Canucks exhibition game against the Ottawa Senators in 2019. (John Morrow/Abbotsford News)
More jobs posted for Abbotsford AHL team

Five new opportunities accepting applicants, Comets forward Lukas Jasek signs in Finland

Singer Ben Cottrill performs during the 2019 Arty Awards at The Reach Gallery Museum, the last time the event was held in person. Cottrill received the award in the performing arts category. (John Morrow/Abbotsford News)
Nominations now open for 2021 Arty Awards

Annual event hosted by Abbotsford Arts Council, with ceremony Sept. 25

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick, assistant deputy speaker at the B.C. legislature, presides over committee discussions. The legislature is completing its delayed spring session this week, with most MLAs participating by video conference. (Hansard TV)
B.C.’s daily COVID-19 infections dip below 100 over weekend

Only 68 new cases recorded Monday, four additional deaths

The BC Ferries website went down for a short while Monday morning following a provincial announcement that recreational travel between health authorities can resume Tuesday. (Black Press Media file photo)
BC Ferries’ website crashes in wake of provincial reopening announcement

Website back up now, recreational travel between health regions to resume as of Tuesday

The Kamloops Indian Residential School is photographed using a drone in Kamloops, B.C., Monday, June, 14, 2021. The remains of 215 children were discovered buried near the former school earlier this month. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Communities grapple with what to do with former residential and day schools

Some tear them down as a tool to help healing, others repurpose them as tools for moving forward

FILE – Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talks about B.C.’s plan to restart the province during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, May 25, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. watching U.K.’s COVID struggles but don’t think province will see similar pitfalls

Studies show that one dose of vaccine is only 33 per cent effective in preventing B.1.617.2 spread

RCMP Const. Shelby Patton is shown in this undated handout photo. RCMP say that Patton was hit by an allegedly stolen truck that he had pulled over on Saturday morning in Wolseley, east of Regina. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, RCMP
Pair charged in Saskatchewan Mountie’s death make first court appearance

Const. Shelby Patton was hit by an allegedly stolen truck that he had pulled over Saturday morning

David and Collet Stephan leave for a break during an appeal hearing in Calgary on Thursday, March 9, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Todd Korol
Appeal Court rejects stay for Alberta couple facing third trial in son’s death

Pair accused in their earlier trials of not seeking medical attention for their son sooner

Highway notices like this come down effective June 14. Public health restrictions on non-essential travel and commercial operation have hit local businesses in every corner of B.C. (B.C. government)
Province-wide travel back on in B.C.’s COVID-19 restart plan

Gathering changes include up to 50 people for outdoor events

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Most Read