The June 26 premiere of the film “This Living Salish Sea” represents the culmination of four and a half years of work on the part of Gibsons artist and filmmaker, Sarama, and extraordinary support from residents of the Sunshine Coast.
“This is very much a Sunshine Coast supported project. The community really came together to help,” said Sarama, interviewed at the Gibsons home that he and his wife Lyonoor built when they moved to the coast in the 1990s.
A sculptor and photographer, Sarama has also worked as an actor and done freelance camera work for CHBC-TV, Global-TV, Nippon-TV, and independent productions. In 2012 he produced and directed a short film, “This Living Earth at Gospel Rock” a meditation on beauty in the natural world.
It was when he was filming in the forest and underwater at Gospel Rock that Sarama got the idea for a bigger film. “The whole issue of Kinder Morgan [pipeline] expansion was coming up,” said Sarama. “To me it was unthinkable.”
“To tell this story I had to go to the Athabasca region to find out what was happening there because these two regions are inter-connected.” Sarama travelled to the tar sands in 2013 and participated in the Healing Walk with First Nations near Fort McMurray.
The film project expanded, as did the issues on the BC coast. The proposal to ship bitumen by tanker was joined by a proposal for a major LNG plant in Howe Sound.
Sarama had tackled a subject with global implications and a complex science background. “To cover that properly without money, without backing, without a studio, without any funding, was an enormously challenging thing.”
In 2014, Sarama took material he had already shot, made a short film trailer, and launched a fundraising campaign for production costs. People stepped up to contribute not just money, but a great deal more: music, photos, film footage, web development, equipment, dive air, production assistance, use of boats and homes, and interviews. On his website, Sarama describes the film as “the product of a people and of generosity of a broader community.”
Sarama cut down over 350 hours of footage to create a 110-minute documentary which he hopes will be “part of the wider dialogue of what we value in society, and how we will continue this journey of evolution as the human species.”
Two screenings of the film have been arranged by the Green Film Series: on Monday, June 26 and Tuesday, June 27, 7:30pm, at the Heritage Playhouse in Gibsons. Reservations can be made via Eventbrite. Admission is by donation, with proceeds to Sarama’s production costs.