The Mountain of SGaana starts with a fisherman buried in his phone, until he sees the ‘mouse woman’, a character from Haida mythology, who begins to knit a spiritual universe that the skipper is not ready for. Once we plunge into the spiritual universe, we meet a couple stranded on a beach. A man runs into the water with his spear to catch some food, only to be plunged into an incredibly imaginative underwater universe filled with shape-shifting killer whales and many other strange creatures. His partner plunges into the water to find him, facing her own hurdles.

Rendered in a style influenced by Haida art and culture, the animation in The Mountain of SGaana is certainly unique. An effective technique used throughout the film is to separate the real world from the spirit world is a change in animation style of both. Another interesting and useful technique is the way the screen is often split into different sections, each representing a different point of view of the situation. These sections are separated by more traditional Haida art, lending the film an ethereal dreamlike quality.

At is core, this is a tale about loss and retrieval. The film turns this simple tale into a fantastically surreal experience. It seamlessly transitions between the real world and the spirit world while never losing the audience’s connection to either. An incredibly inventive experience, let’s hope that director Christopher Auchter moves forward onto bigger projects, as this film looks amazing and will have viewers revisiting it many times.

Screens (as part of Loot Bag Sr.: Animated World programme):
Saturday, March 10, 10:45 AM, TIFF Bell Lightbox
Tuesday, March 13, 2:30 PM, TIFF Bell Lightbox
Wednesday, March 14, 10:30 AM, TIFF Bell Lightbox