Uncharted Waters


Molly Dennis


Molly Dennis Hannah Siden
  • Release Date 2022
  • Running Time 24 minutes
  • Closed Captions Yes
  • Availability Canada, USA

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Uncharted Waters Uncharted WatersUncharted Waters

Uncharted Waters celebrates community conservation efforts in Howe Sound/ Atl’ka7tsem, near Vancouver, Canada. Historically, the Sound saw huge amounts of industrial pollution and drop offs in marine diversity. Eventually, community restoration initiatives led to impressive results and laid a foundation for future collaborative efforts. However, there are still ongoing debates regarding preservation and progress, and not all factions agree about the best way forward.

This documentary explores a new generation navigating the complex topic of holistic preservation: colonial legacy, scientific communication and ecological appreciation. While the task is never complete, the methods used can be applicable across the natural world. These young people are linked by their involvement in an innovative, community-led mapping project - the 'Howe Sound/ Atl'ka7stem Marine Reference Guide' - a digital map of the area that combines layers of scientific, artistic, industrial and social data.

Director: Molly Dennis
Creative Producer: Hannah Siden

3 day rental (video on demand) available at watch.movingimages.ca


Artist's Statement

“Uncharted Waters” came from a love at first sight of the beautiful Howe Sound/ Atl’ka7tsem. As someone brought up in the UK, I couldn’t believe how such a stunning and diverse ecosystem could be on the doorstep of a major city. Out on the water I could see eagles flying around the arbutus trees and orcas hunting in plain sight. I’d hear of bears crossing the water to forage on the banks, and imagine ancient sponge reefs in the depths.

But once I started digging into its history, I came to realise the complexity of the place. The historic pollution affecting the water, the continued logging of old growth, the nuances of industry and people’s livelihoods and the systematic removal of the First Nation Squamish language that is still being fought for today. I could clearly see this intricate web of human activity, butting against the fauna and flora of a finely balanced ecology that was slowly being restored.

Initially this documentary was smaller in scope, focused on Di’s art and the nature that inspires it. However, after learning more about the story of the Sound and the diversity of stakeholders navigating its future, my creative producer Hannah Siden and I decided to widen the lens. We felt the Marine Reference Guide was a perfect way to capture the richness and complexity of Howe Sound/ Atl’ka7tsem, as it both literally and metaphorically documented the many layers to this area.

Similarly, choosing our contributors was incredibly special. Di’s beautiful acrylic landscapes opened up the aesthetic of the film and captured the beauty and spirit of the Sound. Fiona is an expert who cares deeply and wins the hearts and minds of both community members and viewers. Seeing a new generation become inspired through Jonny and Nolan made us hopeful for the Sound’s future, and that this model of holistic conservation and stewardship could be applicable across the planet.

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