Much has been made of the hunting to death of bison in the United States. But the prairies on which the majestic animals roamed stretched way up into Canada as well. And bison didn’t fare any better there than here.
We love our bison, lauding them in photos. Now a documentary has captured their painful near-demise north of the 49th Parallel.
Buffalo Calling, a short animated documentary by Saskatoon filmmaker Tasha Hubbard, brings their tragic tale to the fore. It has screened at numerous film festivals since being released last year, including the recently concluded Montreal First Peoples Festival in Canada.
The animation by Blackfoot visual artist Mitchell Poundmaker, who is from Saskatchewan, gives the film a haunting quality. No words are necessary as the tragedy of the buffaloes’ demise is acted out by his characters.
Hubbard approached the Banff Centre, an organization that helps emerging artists, with her idea, and the staff there assisted. At first daunted by the magnitude of depicting this story via film, Hubbard realized that the difficulties of telling such a story through film could be overcome with animation. The center’s staff used unconventional animation techniques to capitalize on Poundmaker’s strengths as a visual artist.
The result is a hauntingly beautiful piece of work. Below is a look behind the scenes at the making of the film, with scenes as well.