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SANCTUARY: The Dakota Bear Ancient Forest Experience

Showing on Feb 3–7

Playing at Performance Works

Damien Gillis, Cease Wyss & Olivier Leroux (Canada)

Damien Gillis, Cease Wyss, and Olivier Leroux present an ecological adventure—a feast for the senses, and an implicit call to action. This 360° projection takes you to a place that has existed since the last Ice Age—and is now under threat. Inside a geodesic dome, viewers experience an auditory mix of music and nature sounds, as well as a wraparound view of an ancient forest, beautifully captured by co-director and cinematographer Olivier Leroux. Hosted by Wyss herself, this is a transporting experience: from the inside of hollow trunks, where black bears make their winter dens, to the precipice of a waterfall and other magical places, it offers the thrill of true immersion.

“I felt we needed a visceral experience to take viewers as close as we can to being in that place. We have precious few of these ancient forests left. They’re a treasure, like a natural cathedral.”

— Damien Gillis

Viewers also see a logging operation, a clearcut, and a tree plantation—scenes that drive home what is at stake in the protection of this land, as well as the different values with which people regard it. The experience concludes with a traditional song, performed in the heart of the forest by Wyss, which conveys a sense of the sacred. Alternately contemplative and thrilling, Sanctuary is a journey that will bring you to a new understanding, and a new sense of urgency.

Online Talkback: Feb 7, 11 a.m.–12.30 p.m.

Skwx̱wú7mesh youth amplifying the message of SANCTUARY: The Dakota Bear Ancient Forest Experience

Creators Cease Wyss and Damien Gillis are working with two young voices from her Skwx̱wú7mesh nation to lead a talkback as well as co-lead a workshop for immigrant and refugee youth. Young voices whose ancestors have been here since time immemorial in dialogue with newcomer youth, about the land they have just arrived on and what needs to be done to preserve and defend it.

ASL Interpreters will be provided for the talkback.

To join the talkback, please visit https://zoom.us/j/95674268728.

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Artist Bio

Cease Wyss (Canada)

Cease Wyss is an educator, ethnobotanist, and media artist of Skwxwu7mesh, Stó:lō, Hawaiian, and Swiss descent. Trained by Indigenous knowledge keepers, she uses her art, her activism, and her teaching to raise awareness and bring about change.

Damien Gillis (Canada)

Damien Gillis is a journalist and filmmaker. His documentary Fractured Land won Best BC Film at the Vancouver International Film Festival in 2015, and his writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Tyee, and elsewhere.

Olivier Leroux (Canada)

Olivier Leroux is an experienced VR Director and DOP who has taught VR journalism at UBC and works with the iM4 VR program at Emily Carr University.


Performance Works

1218 Cartwright Street, Granville Island, Vancouver


  • February 3 at 3 pm
  • February 4 at 3 pm
  • February 5 at 3 pm
  • February 6 at 1 pm
  • February 7 at 1 pm


Tickets are available for $10 per entry slot. Due to COVID-19, a maximum of 2 people from the same household will be permitted per time slot. For more information about our COVID-19 Safety Plan, please visit pushfestival.ca/covid-policy.



Captions are available, please request in advance

ASL Interpretation provided for the talkback

Low Sensory

Captions: The experience will be available with captions.
Extra live: This experience is low sensory, but we do not have a visual story for it.
Please direct any questions to access@pushfestical.ca
VLOG about Sanctuary: The Dakota Bear Ancient Forest Experience




FEATURING Cease Wyss PRODUCED BY Damien Gillis CO-DIRECTED BY Olivier Leroux & Damien Gillis CINEMATOGRAPHER: Olivier Leroux Drone Operator: Zachary Moxley WRITTEN BY Cease Wyss, Damien Gillis & Olivier Leroux NARRATED BY Cease Wyss EDITED BY Olivier Leroux POST-PRODUCTION SUPERVISOR & ASSISTANT EDITOR: Damien Gillis FIELD SOUND & NARRATION RECORDING by Edo Van Breemen SOUND DESIGN & MIX by Alba Vega Mulet MUSIC COMPOSED BY Edo Van Breemen & Johannes Winkler PROJECTION TECHNOLOGIST: Eric Chad UNDERGROUND ANIMATION: ART DIRECTION by Julie Andreyev & Maria Lantin ANIMATION BY Edward Madojemu SOUND COMPOSITION BY Simon Overstall POST-PRODUCTION BY Sean Arden

This animation draws on research supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Logging Footage cour: Bryan Short Joanne Pearce UBC School of Journalism Backcountry guides and research support: Ross Muirhead and Hans Penner Project Consultant: Julie Andreyev Production Support: Sadira Rodrigues Dome panel fabrication by G2CNC – Campbell River, BC Dome, and projector rigging equipment: McMedia