“The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” – William Faulkner
In the new feature documentary Unarchived, co-directors Hayley Gray and Elad Tzadok highlight community archives across British Columbia to reveal some of what has been erased from the official record.
The people and places left out of traditional archives and museums are often determined by the dominant power, but as UBC’s Dr. Henry Yu states, “the process of silencing makes a lot of noise.” Local knowledge keepers are undoing these omissions and hand-fashioning a more inclusive history through family photos, newspaper articles and scratchy old VHS tapes.
Ron Dutton started the BC Gay and Lesbian Archive by collecting protest pamphlets, posters and even cabaret sets from the earliest days of Vancouver’s gay community. In the tiny mill town of Paldi, on Vancouver Island, a remarkable intercultural community was captured on Super 8 and 16-millimetre film by the founders and their families. On the landscape, anthropologist Dr. Imogene Lim points out how plants serve as reminders of Asian communities long gone.
These different archives tell stories of people building connection through work, play, protest, family and tradition. In so doing, they challenge larger institutions to re-examine and address older narratives that no longer reflect the totality of our shared experience. At the Trans Archive at the University of Victoria, a hidden past is documented and preserved. At the Royal BC Museum, staff work tirelessly to right historical wrongs and find a new path towards restorative justice for Indigenous people.
Through a collage of personal interviews, archival images and footage, and deeply rooted memories, the past, present and future come together, fighting for a space where everyone is seen and everyone belong. History is what we all make of it.
2022, 84 min 54 s
Also available in French
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