Two much-awaited Imax films on Vancouver Island’s old-growth forests premiéred at the Images Festival in Toronto this week.
The films are part of a series of work entitled Outer Worlds, a series of five Imax commissions from leading Canadian media artists, each of whom have created films in a cinematic genre typical of Imax films: larger-than-life landscapes.
Two of the films will feature the endangered old-growth forests of Vancouver Island near Port Renfrew.
Embers and the Giants, by artist Kelly Richardson, a professor of visual arts at the University of Victoria, presents an endangered old-growth forest during last light, articulated by thousands of floating embers of light.
“Initial impressions may be that we are witnessing a rare, exceptionally beautiful display of fireflies. Then again, human intervention may be at play, suggesting a time when we’ll need to amplify the spectacle of nature in order to convince the public of its worth,” Richardson said.
Richardson is known for creating hyper-real digital films of rich and complex landscapes that have been manipulated using computer-generated imagery, animation, and sound. Her projects have received international acclaim, featured in the National Gallery of Canada, in galleries around the world, and in the official Canada 150 exhibition.
“I ended up moving to Vancouver Island because of the old-growth trees that I couldn’t believe still existed,” Richardson said. “I was overwhelmed by my experience of those ancient stands.”
Forest, by Leila Sujir, of Concordia University, is another feature of the project. Her subject will be the Central Walbran Valley, an area on Vancouver Island that is scheduled for clear-cut logging. Over the past decade, Sujir experimented with stereoscopic 3D video, extending the viewer into the space of the moving image.
Over the years, Vancouver Island’s old-growth forests have drawn considerable attention from the artistic community, including Emily Carr who produced pieces depicting the old-growth trees, giant stumps, and forests of the region in the first half of the 20th century; scores of renowned artists who contributed to the best-selling art book Carmanah: Visions of an Ancient Forest in 1990; and increasing numbers of artists and filmmakers in recent years featuring the ancient forests around Port Renfrew.
“We’re excited that such high-caliber artists and film producers will feature the endangered old-growth forests of Vancouver Island through the most spectacular medium – Imax technology – on a national scale,” said Ken Wu, executive director of the Endangered Ecosystems Alliance.
“The old-growth forests around Port Renfrew, still largely endangered, are clearly continuing to impress increasing numbers of people – not only tourists, but acclaimed artists as well.”
Embers and the Giants and Forest are expected to be screened on local Imax theatres this fall.