Moon Dog

The story of a woman who must return home to fulfill a life-changing pact with her father.

Creative team

Writer: Alice Snaden
Director: Chala Hunter
Producer: Sydney Van Delft

Filmmaker’s statement

I lost my father, who was an artist, to addiction and sickness at the age of 23, and this inheritance is one that both haunts and propels me.

Moon Dog sprang from a conversation Alice Snaden and I had about our fathers, and the complexity of family relationships.

We were also inspired by the deeply evocative work of Anne Carson in her poem The Glass Essay that brings the subconscious into expression, merging fiction with abstract poeticism. In this poem she excavates the internal undercurrents of a relationship between a mother and a daughter, zeroing in on the female experience.

What I wanted to explore in this film are the things we inherit from our parents and how these inheritances are built into us, day by day, year by year.

The science of epigenetics is now proving, on a molecular level, what healers, shamans and elders have been articulating for hundreds of years: that our emotional experiences, from the time before we are born and onward, shape our mental and physical beings on a cellular level. This feeling of inheritance has been with me my whole life and is one of the mysteries that drives my creative urge. In this film, we investigate what happens when that inheritance includes an impossible promise to a father.

With my sense of inheritance comes a desire to overcome it, to move past and through the denial, the addiction, the suppression and the resignation. This script is an expression of this desire, an imagined narrative that attempts to bring questions and fears to the surface so they might shrivel up in the light and lose their power and transform, create renewal in the passage through grief. Through my own personal relationship to loss I have come to realize it can serve as an opportunity where a new possibility emerges in that heightened space.

I feel that in our industry a heightened space is also opening up in the wake of the #metoo movement. I have felt charged for several years with a burning desire to bring to the screen a more diverse and female focused wave of stories.

I am interested in shooting women honestly and, subjectively, prioritizing their experience and allowing them to take up space on screen to be complex, to be un-poised, un-polished, but still seen as heroes. Like their male counterparts always are.

I have a continued determination to make film that is embodied and portrays women’s stories with subjectivity: what Jill Soloway has coined ‘the female gaze,’ and to continue to develop a body of work that will reflect the female experience in as many diverse manifestations as possible back to women so that they might feel inspired, find comfort and strength, feel less isolated, feel seen and validated in their experiences and humanity.

About Chala Hunter

Chala Hunter is a bilingual director, actor and producer from Saskatoon and a graduate of the National Theatre School of Canada. She has performed in theatres across Canada including Buddies in Bad Times, The Tarragon and Canadian Stage.

Film/TV: The Bold Type, Broken Trust, To Silence Judi, Hush Little Baby. Chala was the assistant director to Salvatore Antonio on his production of Sheets (The Theatre Centre) and to Mitchell Cushman on Jerusalem (Company Theatre, Outside the March) which starred Kim Coats and played to sold-out audiences.

Moon Dog is her debut short film which she made through the incredible Toolkit Initiative, a program for emerging female filmmakers run by the Toronto ACTRA Women’s Committee.

Chala is currently in pre-production for a music video, a suspense/thriller short film and a radical coming-of-age Canadian gothic feature film.

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