The oral tradition of the Iroquois Creation Story, passed down through generations in Native communities, is about to have a enduring artistic life as an animated and live dance film, and the current Indiegogo campaign is seeking $16,000 by December 28 for film completion funds.
The Max and Marian Farash Charitable Foundation funded the original $100,000 for a 12-minute film with primary collaborative partners Friends of Ganondagan, Garth Fagan Dance, and Rochester Institute of Technology’s Department of Film and Animation. “The Iroquois Creation Story is a very, very big story with a lot of characters,” explained Catherine Ashworth, associate professor of film and animation at RIT and the film’s director. “We’ve literally had to create an entire universe, and we wanted to include all the elements.” The film has expanded to 16 minutes, and the Indiegogo campaign hopes to raise funds to support the final few minutes of animation.
Updated progress photos and short videos are featured on the Indiegogo campaign page as well as on the Facebook page. Every donor at the $50 level or more will be invited to a special preview screening in early July. Artists, animators, and dancers will be on-hand to answer questions and discuss this creative collaboration. Additional perks are being offered at various donation levels including a signed photo reproduction by Peter Jemison, artist and Ganondagan State Historic Site manager who created the concept drawings and storyboards for the film. The campaign has currently reached 20% of its goal.
The film’s story is based on the words of Chief John Arthur Gibson (Seneca) who related this version to J.N.B Hewitt in the 1890s, later translated into The Myth of the Earth Grasper by John Mohawk. Far above earth in the Sky World, the Great Celestial Tree that provides light and food for the Sky World inhabitants begins to fade. The keeper of the tree has a dream in which the people uproot the great tree, renewing their world. When the Great Tree is uprooted, a large hole is produced through which a pregnant young woman falls, landing on the back of a turtle. A new world, Turtle Island, is created. Eventually, Sky Woman’s grandsons, twins Flint and Sky Holder, create everything on the earth and battle for control of Turtle Island. The story has many truths that apply to contemporary society.
Film narrator is Grammy winner singer-songwriter Joanne Shenandoah (Oneida), with animated characters voiced by Iroquois (Haudenosaunee) actors. The music track combines traditional Iroquois singers with music by Native composer Brent Michael Davids (Mohican). The film will be permanently featured in the Orientation Theater of the Seneca Art and Culture Center at Ganondagan, set to open at the end of July 2015 to coincide with Ganondagan’s annual Native American Dance & Music Festival. The Indiegogo Campaign website is: www.indiegogo.com/projects/iroquois-creation-story.
Amy Blum 585-425-1864 firstname.lastname@example.org