The phantasms of Inuit legend will grip audiences in the stunning short The Country of Wolves by Ottawa native Neil Christopher at this year’s Animation Festival.
“My childhood was steeped in myth. My parents would read me Greek and Norse mythology,” said Christopher an author, publisher and film director who moved to Iqaluit to teach more than 15 years ago.
“One day a student was doodling a kind of monster and it caught my eye,” he said. “They told me it’s a demon up here. I asked them to tell me the story and I slowly stared getting glimpses of a whole mythology unknown to people outside the north. A lot of these stories are not being passed on.”
Wanting to preserve the tales, Christopher joined forces with Inuk Louise Flaherty to found Inhabit Media which put out a host of children’s books collecting stories from the north.
Looking to try something new, Christopher gathered a team of animators, musicians and story tellers more than two years ago to create Country of Wolves, a short film tracking two Inuit hunters swept away on a dark, supernatural adventure as they hunt for seal.
“This story exists in communities across the Arctic,” Christopher said. “I thought it would lend a glimpse into the Inuit spirit world.”
So far, Christopher said, the film has done more than all his books in promoting Inuit stories and culture. He added it has so far scooped up seven awards for best short and best animation.
“I like how raw and unflinching the Inuit are as they look at their own culture or the human condition,” he said. “They show a glimpse of a time that only this last generation of elders will understand.”
The Country of Wolves will screen at the Ottawa Animation Festival September 20 and 21. Check the festival schedule for showtimes.