Film poster for "TINY". A doll waves, dressed in red.
Film poster for "TINY". A doll waves, dressed in red.
'Nakwaxda'xw Elder Colleen Hemphill tells the story of her life as a youth growing up on a float house


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BEST SHORT DOCUMENTARY - DOXA Documentary Film Festival | BEST ANIMATED SHORT - American Indian Film Festival | BEST INDIGENOUS SHORT - Regina International Film Festival | BEST SHORT FILM - Portland Ecofilm Festival

Indigenous Ways of Knowing • Elder Storytelling • Life Integrated with Nature • Childhood Memories

Date of Completion: 2023 | Run Time: 16 minutes​​ | Language: English | Captions: Yes | Includes: Transcript | Co-Directors: Ritchie Hemphill & Ryan Haché | Producer: Ellen Reimer | Subject: Colleen Hemphill

TINY is a contemplative stop motion film which tells the story of ‘Nakwaxda’xw Elder Colleen Hemphill’s childhood. The film portrays modern day Colleen as she reflects on her past, and re-enacts the stories she tells of her youth, as a young girl growing up on a float-house in the wild and unpredictable Pacific Northwest and its waters. As she retells her story, Colleen notices how different her way of life was when she was young, and how much more harmonious her community was with nature. The film aims to celebrate the life and identity of Colleen by sharing the gift of her presence and stories with audiences.

Emma Poole | Film Critic, Ottawa Festivals
“In the next film, we were transported into a stop-motion universe in a film called Tiny, by Ritchie Hemphill and Ryan Haché. This film was a treat for the eyes with its incredible sets and figures made from clay and other materials. It was also a treat for the ears as the beautiful narration is cradled softly by the instrumental score. But perhaps most of all, this film hit the mark on an emotional level with all these elements working in tandem to bring this story to life. Narrated by Hemphill’s mother, Colleen Hemphill, we listen to Colleen as she recounts memories of her childhood that have remained with her long into her adult life. Now as an Elder from the Kwakwaka‘wakw territory, we understand that her connection to the environment has had a very meaningful and spiritual impact. Without going into too much detail, the stories Colleen shares are ones with heavy themes of family, community, and her relationship with the unpredictable West Coast environment. With the sets being so detailed and representative of Colleen’s memories, the nature and the environments in the story feel like another character and they become integral to the film’s visual storytelling. You could tell that there was a lot of love put into this piece. The characters are all hand sculpted by animator Ryan Haché, which gives the film an additional human touch. Additionally, Colleen’s narration was sourced from an intimate conversation between her and her son, which added another layer of intimacy to the film. The amount of effort and love put into this film was not lost on me. I loved every second spent in Collen Hemphill’s dreamy memory-scape, and I tip my hat to directors Ritche Hemphill and Ryan Haché for bringing all these elements together. To me, Tiny is not just a good film, it has easily become one of my favorite stop-motion films of all time.”

Paolo Kagaoan | Senior Critic, In The Seats
“The stop motion animation in Ritchie Hemphill and Ryan Hache’s Tiny is nothing short of amazing. Viewers can feel things like the wind of people’s faces just by how it craves the characters’ expressions. This short, by the way, also played Shorts Not Pants’ Indigenous program last month. I’m happy to see it play again this month because I missed it last time. Accompanying these visuals is the narration of Hemphill’s mother Colleen. She’s a ‘Nakwaxda’xw elder who discusses identity and tells her story as a member of a family of swimmers living in a West Coast float house. She talks about her brother and father like they’re mythological beings. And it’s nice to hear someone love their family this much. This is subtle Indigenous storytelling that still touches on bigger themes.”

Olivier Thibodeau | Film Critic, Panorama Cinema
"Tiny is one of the nicknames of Colleen Hemphill, elder of the 'Nakwaxda'xw nation, who recounts here, through the prism of the volume animation of her son Ritchie, the memories of her youth on the island of Alert Bay, north of Vancouver Island. Narrating her story in voice- over , Colleen appears on screen in the guise of two distinct clay figures, that of an inspiring old woman with a catchy laugh "interviewed" in her warm cottage and that of the carefree young girl whom it was back when she lived in a houseboat with her parents. The humanistic nature of the story is initially revealed in the subtle stutterings of the voiceover and in the confused reminiscences of the storyteller, who offers us several versions of the moment she learned to swim. Indeed, it is not a transcendent factual truth that Ritchie and Ryan Haché are trying to capture here, but rather the vaporous essence of memory, and in this they succeed with flying colors, working just as skillfully with physical matter as with matter. memorial. It is the ataraxia that they show us, the beauty of a direct relationship with nature which unfolds through many richly illustrated and meticulously illuminated picturesque anecdotes about coastal life - Colleen's first swim, the angel's leap performed by his father with a straw hat on his head, the story of the fish hook stuck in his scalp and the perilous ride in a water taxi to the hospital...The goal is not simply to commemorate the individual existence of the subject, but of the traditional way of life of his nation, celebrated in the joyful spectacle of the droplets of water on the clay skin of the figures, the waves of cellophane into which they dive so cheerfully and the flaky snow on the treetops. The film also acts as an implicit claim to ancestral land, via the chronicle of a form of precolonial bliss, which at least predates the uprooting of 1964, during which the 'Nakwaxda'xw were relocated to the Port Hardy reserve, exalting a primordial relationship with the territory which will persist forever in the luminous images of the work.

Eva Anandi Brownstein, Kinga Binkowska and Rylan Friday | Jurors, DOXA Documentary Film Festival
“Jurors Eva Anandi Brownstein, Kinga Binkowska and Rylan Friday are delighted to unanimously present this year’s Short Documentary Award to Ritchie Hemphill and Ryan Haché’s Tiny. Jurors were moved by the storytelling, well-executed animation and obvious care that the filmmakers took in crafting this story. Elder Coleen Hemphill’s memories are beautifully brought to life through sound design and animation in this compelling and compassionate film.

Jaewoo Kang, Shasha McArthur and Soloman Chiniquay | Jurors, DOXA Documentary Film Festival
“Jurors Jaewoo Kang, Shasha McArthur and Soloman Chiniquay are proud to present the inaugural Elevate Award, presented by Elevate Inclusion Strategies, to Ritchie Hemphill and Ryan Haché for Tiny. The jurors applaud the film’s innovative use of stop motion animation and the filmmaker’s caring celebration of elder Colleen Hemphill and the lands and waters of Alert Bay. The jury is excited to amplify the diverse stories and storytellers that brought this film to life.”

Tracy Rector, SIFF Programmer | Seattle International Film Festival
"Incredibly talented stop-motion artist Ritchie Hemphill (Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw) created this beautiful short with his mother’s voice and stories. Hemphill describes it as a “slow-tone poem,” a tribute to “life integrated with nature.”

Jennie Punter, Courntey Small, Steve Gravestock | Jurors, Shorts Not Pants Film Festival
“For their use of artfully detailed stop-motion animation and compact, cinematic storytelling to portray the childhood story of Colleen Hemphill, and conveying both wonder and danger by skillfully weaving the Nakwaxda’xw Elder’s contemplative voice and perspective with images of her young self exploring the wild, watery spirit of the Pacific Northwest, the jury awards the Best Canadian Short award to Ritchie Hemphill and Ryan Haché for Tiny.”

Available Light Film Festival Programmers | Available Light Film Festival
“Tiny is a very apt title for this beautiful film. Tiny, in that a complete world from memory is reproduced in clay miniature as the set and characters in this film. Tiny also, in that it captures the minutiae and nuance of small human gestures, the touch of one hand to another, the small changes in expression a wrinkle in a forehead makes, or the way one sips a coffee. These are made all the more amazing in the fact they are in magnificently beautiful claymation. But Tiny also refers to the narrative. The film is a series of reminiscences by one of the maker’s ancestors: 'Nakwaxda'xw elder Colleen Hemphill who tells the story of her life as a youth growing up on a float house in her Indigenous home in northern Vancouver Island. The film’s heartening comprises a gorgeous memory of a loving childhood.”

Jim Slotek | Film Critic, Original SIN
“West Coast filmmakers Ritchie Hemphill and Ryan Haché interviewed Hemphill’s aged mother Colleen, a Nakwaxda’xw elder, about her childhood living aboard a traditional “float house” with her siblings and parents. Her memories are dramatized in stop-motion that lends surreality to the lens of time. But the memories of a life on the water, constantly swimming, paint a vivid a picture of an unimaginable and alluring life as a marine creature of sorts, not just living off of the sea but on it.

Florence Carlton High School Student | Big Sky Documentary Film Festival - Filmmakers in the Schools Program
“I’m so thankful I got to see this documentary today. Her stories and wisdom were exactly what I needed to hear during a hard time. Her descriptions along with the filmmakers work of capturing that. Her stories of growing up on the water resonated so much with me, even though I just grew up by it. I’m in awe of her strength, while still remaining fiercely kind and gentle.” 

Best Documentary Short | DOXA Documentary Film Festival
Elevate AwardDOXA Documentary Film Festival
Best Animated ShortAmerican Indian Film Festival
Best Indigenous ShortRegina International Film Festival
Best Canadian ShortShorts Not Pants Film Festival
Best Short AwardPortland Ecofilm Festival
Shawash Ilihi Award McMinnville Short Film Festival
Best Animated ShortRed Nation International Film Festival
Best Animation Award | Three Fires International Film Festival
Best Cinematography AwardThree Fires International Film Festival
Outstanding Animated FilmShort Circuit Pacific Rim Film Festival
Lodestar Award Dawson City International Short Film Festival
Audience Choice AwardSalt Spring Island Film Festival
Nominee, Oscar-qualifying Best Indigenous Short Competition | Bendfilm Festival
Nominee, Animated Short Competition | Les Sommets du cinéma d’animation

WOW Wales One World Film Festival
Skoden Indigenous Film Festival
BC Environmental Film Festival
London International Animation Festival
Regent Park Film Festival
Ottawa Canadian Film Festival
Santa Fe International Film Festival
Planet in Focus International Film Festival
Calgary International Film Festival
Seattle International Film Festival
International Indigenous Film Festival
Available Light Film Festival
Guelph Film Festival
AnimaDoc Film Festival
Local Sightings Film Festival
Tallgrass Film Festival
Bentonville Film Festival
Big Sky Documentary Film Festival
Margaret Mead Film Festival