A Métis filmmaker discusses her inspiration in creating this raw, darkly human story about ethics.
Métis filmmaker Terril Calder has created a haunting, visceral animation tour-de-force. Meneath: The Hidden Island of Ethics, currently streaming on NFB.ca, YouTube and Facebook, is a layered exploration of identity as seen through the eyes of a baby girl caught between Christian and Anishinaabe teachings, the former filling her with shame while the latter infuses her with the strength she needs to heal.
This stop-motion short, written, directed and animated by Calder, pulls no punches as it takes on the accommodations Indigenous people make on a daily basis. After a lifetime of trying to “fit in,” Calder has used this film to pose the ultimate question — should we have to?
In this “Meet the Makers” clip, Calder takes us through her creative process and explores the intricate link between her art and upbringing. A visual artist since childhood, she employs an unflinchingly honest approach, using animation to couch dark stories. Calder is a multi-disciplinary creator who writes and directs, crafts her own puppets, sets and props, designs the costumes, and then does all the animation and compositing herself. Supporting her in this endeavor is an impressive array of high-profile Indigenous cast and crew, including actress Gail Maurice, consulting producer Jason Ryle and story consultant Darlene Naponse, and late filmmaker Jeff Barnaby, who served as editor. The film was produced by the NFB’s Jelena Popović.
The film has done well on the festival circuit, cementing its position as a film to watch for during this year’s awards race, according to the Oscar Watch 2023: The Long Shorts List published last month. It recently won the Best Animated Short award at the American Indian Film Festival in San Francisco and was an Official Selection at the 2022 Annecy International Animation Film Festival, Animafest Zagreb 2022 and the 2022 Berlin International Film Festival. After its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival, it was named one of Canada’s Top Ten Short Films.
You can also read our interview with the acclaimed director here.