22. September 2015 · Comments Off on Five Questions With Mar Y Sol, Director of “Sayachapis” · Categories: Documentaries, Five Questions with..., Ottawa, Short Films · Tags: , , , , ,
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Photo of Mar Y Sol by Jesse Mckinnon

“This film for me has a lot of meaning. My first thought about it is how does one come to terms with their past. If Sayachapis was able to heal himself from his suffering, if he found the strength to get help and heal himself, anybody can do it”, filmmaker Mar Y Sol tells Ottawa Indie Fest when we spoke to her about her award winning documentary film Sayachapis which screens at the One World Film Festival on Saturday September 26, 2015.

Named “52” for ten years, Sayachapis now lives alone on Indian Island, a small island off grid off the coast of Vancouver Island. A residential school survivor, he remembers vividly the hard labor, starvation, rape, broken bones and unimaginable horrors from the years gone by. “I am still alive, I am still ok.”

Update: Ma Y Sol’s Sayachapis was awarded Best Documentary Short at the 26th annual One World Film Festival in Ottawa on September 26, 2015.  Photos

How did you get involved in the making of this film?
It all started in 2010 when I was living in the desert of Egypt. I was trying to find myself and looking for answers about who I was by taking a journey around the world. While in Egypt, I received news that my great grand mother had just past away but I couldn’t afford to return home for the funeral.

Two days later, while I was having a lunch with a friend, she asked me if I had native blood. I told her that yes I did, but it was such a small portion of my origins. My great grand mother was half first nation and half Spanish so it’s almost like if I had none.

She then told me that she could see a red aura behind me as we spoke and that my great grand mother’s spirit was telling me that I had to reconnect with my native roots. I was quite surprised by what she said and I couldn’t understand how my friend would of guessed that my granny had just past away few days earlier. So many questions popped into my head as why we never talked about our ancestors with my family, where am I from, which band I am associated with and who am I? But none of my family members ever had any answers for me.

Thinking about it, I realized that I had received a message about my next journey. Reconnecting with my native roots.

So what happened next?
My journey eventually brought me to Vancouver Island. As I arrived at the coop in the town of Tofino after hitchhiking, tired and exhausted, a man (Sayachapis) came up to me and asked me if I had anywhere to sleep that night.

I answered: “Does it look that obvious that I have nowhere to go?” He then invited me to stay over on his island for free.

Sayachapis 08A

Photo of Sayachapis by Mar Y Sol

When we got there, he told me many stories of his past for hours. I then realized why my great grand mother had never told us stories of her past and why I never heard about first nations in school. How shameful and embarrassing can it be to admit you were raped and beaten-up to take the Indian out of the child by priests and nuns all your youth?

Sayachapis was patient enough to answer all my questions. Before I left the Island, I told him that I would come back the next summer to capture his stories with my camera because his words were just too important to me and they had to be shared with the world.

Why were you interested in making this film?
As important it was for me to share Sayachapis’ story, I just knew it was the right thing to do. Deep inside of me, I knew that Sayachapis was the person who was going to help me reconnect with my native roots.

I can’t say to what degree I reconnected with my native roots, but I am now more and more concerned about the reality of the first nations around the world. And it is leading me to my next film project that I am currently developing which will take me on a journey around the world so that I can assist aboriginal peoples tell their stories.

What were some of the challenges you faced in the making your film?
Yes it was a challenge for me to make this film. In the first place, Indian Island is electricity and water free. So I could only film as long as my batteries would last. Then I had to paddle to town and mobilize myself in a corner of a coffee shop until the my batteries were recharged, my footage was downloaded and backed up and I was organized again and ready for the next shoot.

Sayachapis 02

“Sayachapis” production still

It was also a challenge for me during each stage of the production as it was my first film and on a super low budget. And when it came to editing the film, I was so personally involved in the story that it was very hard for me to make any clear decisions about what was going to be in the film or not. After 4 months of editing, someone advised me to restart and I did. I erased everything and started all over again. It took me in total 9 months of editing to complete the movie. It was like giving birth to a child.

Sayachapis’ story has a very personal connection for me and it is why I was able to finish the film. In respect of my ancestors and all the first nations, I had to do it. Sayachapis is now my family.

As a filmmaker what does the making of this film personally mean for you?
This film for me has a lot of meaning. My first thought about it is how does one come to terms with their past. If Sayachapis was able to heal himself from his suffering, if he found the strength to get help and heal himself, anybody can do it.

It shows me how human beings can be determined to survive facing obstacles. He showed me that we need to express ourselves in a manner that we think is the right way. For him, it was through writing. Sayachapis wrote hundreds of pages in a diary as well as books of poetry about his feelings and suffering. For him, it was a part of his healing process. Writing saved him from this cruel world.

Now I think that we all should find our way to deal with our own personal issues and sufferings. Of course at some point, we will need some help and yes we will need strength to accept it, but how beautiful is the path of healing. It’s never easy, but once you come in terms with your sufferings, you can be only proud of yourself.

Sayachapis is for me an example of strength and determination and also of sensibility and kindness.

Sayachapis 04

“Sayachapis” production still

Mar Y Sol has a background in dancing and acting, But always wanting to followed her dreams, she decided to travel by herself to discover the world. After few a years of traveling, she realized that the people she met had important messages to share. So she went back to school to learn about documentary film making. Mar Y Sol is currently developing a documentary feature that will again take her around the world helping aboriginal peoples to tell their stories. Sayachapis is her first documentary film.

Sayachapis is one of four Canadian Short Documentaries screening at the National Gallery of Canada on Saturday September 26, 2015 from 12.30pm to 2:30pm followed by a Q&A with the filmmakers.
The four films were curated by Ottawa Indie Fest in association with Ottawa World Film Festival. They are presented as part of the of the One World Film Festival’s ‘Our Home on Native Land” program which explores the themes of journeys, the sacred, and conservation and reinforce the need for governments to respect and honour the needs indigenous communities and preserve something lasting for future generations.
© 2015 Ottawa Independent Film Festival


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