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Cam Christiansen was at a low point seven or eight years ago when he attended a music camp in Bragg Creek.

The filmmaker had always been a music fan but didn’t begin playing guitar until he was in his 40s. The camp run by Foothills Acoustic Music Institute included a typical campfire song-swap and Christiansen heard musician Ziggy Ryerson play a tune.

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“I was in a pretty dark place, unfortunately, but I was going off to these music camps and I found it very rejuvenating,” Christiansen says. “One night I was listening to his music and it just floored me. It was the first time I had ever heard his music and it knocked me back. I went back to my little cabin and was lying there thinking, ‘What on earth just happened? That was so powerful.’ It really moved me and I couldn’t really place it, what was happening. It sort of gave me this kernel.

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“There’s something particularly powerful about music, it’s the most raw and intense of the arts and has a way of getting to your soul, basically. I went down the rabbit hole from there.”

His journey down the rabbit hole took more than three years and produced the mind-bending documentary Echo of Everything. The film, which premiered at Toronto’s Hot Docs in 2023, is a globe-trotting, imagery-heavy rumination on the power of music that finds Christiansen weaving thoughts about his own connection to music with lively performances and interviews with musicians and experts.

Echo of Everything will have its first public screening in Calgary on Saturday, April 6 at the Lantern Community Church as part of a fundraiser for Foothills Acoustic Music Institute. It will also feature performances by David Morrissey, Horizon Ridge and Ziggy Ryerson.

It will give Calgarians the first chance to see the visually stunning and thematically ambitious Echo of Everything in full-screen glory. Narrated by Christiansen, the film also features the work of One Yellow Rabbit’s Andy Curtis, who encouraged the filmmaker to add in his own story and who plays a “German-expressionism” version of Christiansen throughout the film.

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While the documentary’s main thrust seems to be that our visceral and cerebral connection to music is mysterious and enigmatic, Christiansen and his gallery of experts try their best to untangle the science and philosophy behind it with decidedly trippy results.

“At first, I really wanted to make a science-of-the-brain kind of film,” he says. “There are these famous books like Oliver Sacks’ Musicophilia or Daniel Leviton’s book, Your Brain on Music. I was really inspired by that and I was going through a road that was like that. Halfway through the film, I had a bit of a crisis. The reaction I was getting from people was like, ‘It’s interesting, it’s beautifully made but we don’t really understand why you’re making it and it’s not really grounded in an emotional truth or anything like that. So, I rethought it and that’s when Andy Curtis entered the picture. I reached out to him because he has been working with One Yellow Rabbit for decades and I thought ‘If anybody knows how to connect with an audience, it would be those guys.’”

Interestingly, while the film takes us to Spain, Senegal, Paris, Rome, New York, Minneapolis, Calgary and the U.K., it was shot during the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced Christiansen to be creative. He ended up hiring freelancers in those countries to capture the footage he needed.

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“Like everybody, I was in lockdown,” he says. “I was going to shoot everything in Calgary myself. With the pandemic, I realized I couldn’t do any of that. Then I realized I could work remotely with people and thought ‘If I can work remotely, I can do it anywhere in the world. I started doing all these experiments in Rome, Paris, Dekar, New York and all that. It was just really exciting. It was an entertaining thing to do during the pandemic and also gave it an international view on music.”

Echo of Everything is Christiansen’s follow-up to 2017’s Wall, a stunning animated documentary he did with the National Film Board of Canada based on the work of British playwright David Hare about the physical and philosophical fence separating Israel and Palestine. Christiansen had worked primarily in animation in his early career but that film, while a critical success, was so emotionally and physically exhausting that he swore off doing any more animation. So fans will be happy to see Christiansen’s animation return in Echo of Everything, albeit in a less all-consuming manner.

“It started creeping its way back in,” he says. “It was a much better balance. It didn’t eat me alive in terms of time and stress. It was a much better use of animation. Just little flourishes, not the full thing. It was way easier to deal with.”

The Echo of Everything will be shown on April 6 at the Lantern Community Church. Doors open at 6 p.m. Tickets are $25 in advance or $30 at the door. Echo of Everything will also be available to stream for a week starting April 7 at


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