CURATED BY BRETT KASHMERE
WINNIPEG CINEMATHEQUE, Winnipeg, Manitoba
November 2010 – May 2011
Nothing is built on stone; all is built on sand, but we must build as if the sand were stone.
-- Jorge Luis Borges
The Road Ended at the Beach and Other Legends represents the first critical survey of Canada's mythic and amorphous "Escarpment School," a loosely knit band of Ontario-based filmmakers that came together in the late-70s at Sheridan College, under the tutelage of Rick Hancox and Jeffrey Paull. Its assumed "members" include Hancox, Carl Brown, Philip Hoffman, Mike Hoolboom, Richard Kerr, Gary Popovich and Steve Sanguedolce, while Janis Cole, Holly Dale, Marian McMahon, and Mike Cartmell are occasionally linked to the group. A number of other accomplished filmmakers and cultural producers, such as Lorne Marin, Lorraine Segato (of The Parachute Club), and Alan Zweig overlapped with and intersected this circle, through acts of collaboration, social interactions, inspiration, and friendship. The American filmmaker and scholar George Semsel, Hancox's first teacher and mentor, also deserves mention, as many of the concerns expressed in the films of the "Escarpment School" can be located in Semsel's own cinematic work.
Paradoxically, what is most noteworthy about the "Escarpment School" today, whether seen as a legitimate art-historical movement or as a PR strategy concocted from within, is its absence from the annals of Canadian cinema, despite the influence and accolades of the aforementioned individuals. Did the "Escarpment School" ever exist, and if so, what did it look like, what might it look like now (with the hindsight of historical perspective), and how do we evaluate its legacy? This four-part series seeks to celebrate the "Escarpment School" as a unique confluence in Canadian film history and to simultaneously expand the frame, by offering an inclusive, inter-generational interpretation of its membership.
The Road Ended at the Beach and Other Legends is produced by the Winnipeg Cinematheque. Thanks to Dave Barber at Winnipeg Cinematheque, Daichi Saito and Malena Szlam at CinemaSpace, Amy Lynn Kazymerchyk at DIM Cinema, Chris Kennedy at The Free Screen, and Phil Rose at Available Light for their support. Thanks also to Rick Hancox, Jeffrey Paull and Canadian Filmmakers' Distribution Centre for research assistance.
November 6, 2010
PART I – Introduced by Brett Kashmere
Winnipeg Cinematheque, Winnipeg, MB
February 12, 2011
PART II – Introduced by Alan Zweig
Winnipeg Cinematheque, Winnipeg, MB
March 26, 2011
PART III – Introduced by Chris Gehman
Winnipeg Cinematheque, Winnipeg, MB
November 16 & 17, 2011
PARTS I & II – Introduced by Rick Hancox
CinemaSpace @ The Segal Centre for the Performing Arts, Montreal, QC
November 21, 2011
PART I – Introduced by Brett Kashmere
DIM Cinema @ Pacific Cinematheque, Vancouver, BC
November 30 & December 1, 2011
PARTS III & IV – Introduced by Brett Kashmere
CinemaSpace @ The Segal Centre for the Performing Arts, Montreal, QC
February 21, 2013
PART I – Introduced by Brett Kashmere
The Free Screen @ TIFF Cinematheque, Toronto, ON
February 21 & 22, 2013
PARTS I & II – Introduced by Brett Kashmere
Available Light @ Club SAW, Ottawa, ON
The "Escarpment School" receives its name from the Niagara Escarpment, the most prominent of several land shelves formed in the bedrock of the Great Lakes, located several miles southwest of Sheridan College. All of its central figures either grew up around, or lived/worked in some proximity to the escarpment. This reference to a specific region, just an hour from the United States, and a transitional land formation is significant. While much of the "Escarpment School's" history and activity is like cinema itself, spectral (now you see it, now you don't), one manifest aspect is a desire for understanding through physical exploration and encounter with landscape. Taking their cameras on the road, to the ocean's shoreline and across southern borders, the filmmakers featured here infuse rituals of masculinity with critical self-reflection and patient, poetic lensing; often conjoined in a diary or travelogue format.
Although varied in tone and texture, the films in this program share numerous qualities, including an attention to geography, a drive to record reality, the filtering of documentary material through individual experience, the looming presence of America, and a process-based, formalist approach to nonfiction. These characteristics in turn reflect the twin impact of the New American Cinema and its conterminous postwar movements, especially Beat literature, as well as the Canadian social documentary tradition, which were often viewed side-by-side in the "Escarpment School" classroom.
LANDSCAPE – George Semsel, 1977, 16mm, 3 min
A paint-by-number painting of a rural landscape is filled in using time-lapse cinematography, sometimes in 'correct' colours but more often with garish variations on natural tones. Periodically, the painting forms part of a collage of photographic and cut-out images.
TRAINS OF THOUGHT– Lorne Marin, 1983, 16mm, 10 min
"In Trains of Thought Marin leaves the usual domestic setting of his films for a road trip to the Maritimes. Using the car's windshield as his canvas, he conjures up dynamic scene changes thanks to an innovative optical printer he designed himself to accommodate his unique vision. Trains of Thought was invited to the Flaherty Film Seminar in 1983, but despite its immediate recognition, the film has fallen into neglect, like the rest of Marin's remarkable body of experimental work." (Rick Hancox)
BEACH EVENTS – Rick Hancox, 1984, 16mm, 8.5 min
"This film completes a trilogy of landscape/poetry films, and was shot near the family home on the Northumberland Strait in Prince Edward Island. In writing the text for Beach Events, I wanted to challenge the cinema's dominant present tense by imitating primitive 'event' poetry, referring superficially to action present on the screen, but gradually slipping out of synchronization with its referent. This practice, together with reading a kind of sub-conscious, internal monologue… helps the viewer transcend the spectacle of the present, and be aware of a larger temporal universe." (RH)
THE ROAD ENDED AT THE BEACH – Philip Hoffman, 1983, 16mm, 30 min
"Film images, stills and sound collected over six years coalesce in The Road Ended at the Beach. Hoffman interrogates both the journey, involving famed American photographer and filmmaker Robert Frank, and the process of its documentation as/in film." (Rivers of Time: The Films of Philip Hoffman)
HIS ROMANTIC MOVEMENT – Richard Kerr, 1984, 16mm, 15 min
"His Romantic Movement reenacts the drama of going on the road, Kerouac style; but what it really depicts is the dream of freedom turning sour. His Romantic Movement re-presents the male-band on the road living it up, taking drugs, drinking in the sights, and just traveling, significantly, to the Florida Keys. But it does not simply depict these activities, and in doing so reproduce that myth. By depicting members of the band as ugly and vicious, it deconstructs the myths of the male-band and conveys uneasiness with that celebration of manliness that was so much part of the ethos of Beat literature." (R. Bruce Elder, C Magazine)
SOMEWHERE BETWEEN JALOSTOTITLAN AND ENCARNACION – Philip Hoffman, 1983, 16mm, 6 min
"The bus stopped on the Mexican highway, placing us in full view of a young boy, motionless, on the hot pavement. In this film, the incident is revealed through a poetic text, derived from my written journals. The poetry mixes primarily with Mexican streetscapes, which compliment the text in a tonal sense. Most images are 28 seconds long, the 'breath' of the 16mm Bolex camera. A lone saxophone weaves its way through the narrative, blending to make stronger the tones and accentuations of the images." (PH)
MEXICO – Mike Hoolboom and Steve Sanguedolce, 1992, 16mm, 35 min
"This high contrast, anti-travelogue benefits from a sharply ironic image track and a mordant voice-over that lends menace to the notion of direct address. Between the film's title and its somewhat arch 'erasure' the subject shifts from Mexico to its Canuck observers." (Cameron Bailey, Now Magazine)
Approximate Running Time: 108 minutes.
The second installment of The Road Ended at the Beach and Other Legends maps the development of first-person documentary in the work of the Escarpment School filmmakers, while also showcasing forays into image manipulation, layered assemblage, and abstraction. Documentary was a staple of Sheridan College’s Media Arts Department during its formative years, as evidenced in the program’s first film, Alan Zweig’s Trip Sheet, from 1976, as well as in the collaborative work of Janis Cole and Holly Dale of the mid- to late-70s. The turn in documentary from social to personal issues would become more pronounced in the early-80s. From 1980-85, esteemed Sheridan College professor Jeffrey Paull evolved a series of single-reel Super-8 “documents” that reduce on-screen action down to a simple, unbroken event or gesture. Emphasizing cinema’s real-time capacity, these one-shot sketches often utilized the artist’s friends, family, and surroundings for their subject matter. One such film, Paull’s Oxford Spa, is a suggestive camera-play that mediates between interior and exterior spaces, the world inside and the action on the street.
The infusion of documentary method with autobiographical concerns is illustrated in the personal journeys that follow. Richard Kerr’s Canal, Rick Hancox’s Waterworx, and Philip Hoffman’s river all return to landscapes of the filmmakers’ youth, with waterways figuring prominently in each. Exploring geographies of identity, these films take place at the fluid intersection of time, space, and memory and feature an array of strategies, from the use of on-screen text, to the repetition and variation of elements, to the integration of multiple media formats and technologies. Moving westward to the Pacific Ocean, Gary Popovich’s Faultlines is a dense contrapuntal composition that overlays travelogue footage with ancient symbols and floating Las Vegas lights: a self-portrait in flux. In Louise Lebeau’s Desert Veils, documentation of an archeological dig gives way to subjective speculation about the women she encounters away from the work site and its impassive male scientists. The program concludes with Two Pictures, Carl Brown’s impressionistic alchemical collaboration with the French experimentalist Rose Lowder. Transforming Lowder’s photographed landscapes through an assortment of darkroom techniques, print generations, and superimpositions, the film is nonetheless documentary in the most pure sense – as a record of its own process – and signifies a passage from the utilitarian roots of Canada’s cinematic tradition to the expressive, hand-tooled celluloid experiments that have taken greater prominence in recent decades.
TRIP SHEET – Alan Zweig, 1976, 16mm, 9 min
Why do people drive cabs? The answers are varied, for the chance to work independently, for the enjoyment of driving, for the variety of people that one has a chance to meet. Trip Sheet looks at the work from a cab driver’s point of view, the scenery outside and the people inside.
OXFORD SPA – Jeffrey Paull, 1984, Super-8, 3 min
“Antecedents for Oxford Spa: 1966: In the NFB's Ladies and Gentlemen, Mr. Leonard Cohen, Cohen chants ‘We're keeping the party going! We're keeping the party going!’ (No Beginning, no Finish). 1967: Once I saw Wavelength, I went, ‘Of course!’ (Continuous take). 1970: I was with an intermedia group: 5 improv musicians on stage + 16 projectors, a zillion image mixing possibilities. We took turns improvising on each other: images-music, music-images (Real time improvisation, also images as music, as musical score). 1974: For sport, chops, and curiosity: Single-take entire super-8 cartridge: Find an ongoing situation, plan an opening framing, improvise a coherent arc of visual time. (In Boston, Mass., a ‘spa’ is a corner grocer.)” (JP)
CANAL – Richard Kerr, 1981, 16mm, 22 min
“The imagery of Canal captures the activity of freighters, ship’s crews, dock workers and the historical masonry that the original Welland Canal was constructed from. The film deals with two forms–autobiography and memory and is about going to ‘my own world of youth’ while simultaneously documenting the environment as an adult. In postproduction, I let the youth/memory stage provide a narrative structure in the form of subtitles. When all else is gone we have our memories. In Canal I ended up in the place of my youth, perhaps the best place I will ever have been.” (RK)
WATERWORX (A Clear Day and No Memories) – Rick Hancox, 1982, 16mm, 6 min
“The waterworks in the Beaches area of Toronto is the source of an eidetic-like image from early childhood. It was always an enigma to me, and after returning years later to shoot this film, I was still not satisfied it was merely a filtration plant. Its architecture functioned more significantly as some kind of temporal metaphor. Wallace Stevens’ ironic and equally enigmatic poem, ‘A Clear Day And No Memories,’ was sought out to address this phenomenon, and to appear as interruptive graphic for the same reason the editing is interruptive–that is, to both work with the alluring nature of the image, yet force an intellectual distancing… The structure reinforces human memory processing, and later, when the first half of the film is repeated (recalled), the Stevens’ text, generated by computer memory, runs across the screen in a style contradicting the mood of the picture and sound, which are now forced into the background.” (RH)
RIVER – Philip Hoffman, 1989, 16mm, 15 min
“The Saugeen River was named Sauking, ‘where it all flows out,’ by the Ojibwa in the early 1800s. It runs into Lake Huron, in central Ontario. The place where I know it is twenty miles south of Owen Sound, near Williamsford, where I spent lots of time in my youth exploring. Over the past twelve years I’ve returned there to film, and collected these moments in a fifteen-minute meditation called simply, river. In 1997, I arrived with a wind-up 16mm Bolex and one roll of 16mm colour film; in 1981 with a half inch, reel-to-reel black-and-white video portapak; in 1984, indoors now, I used a rear screen set up to copy the footage shot in 1979, another return. Finally, in 1989, I went for the first time beneath the surface of the water, the 16mm camera loaded with the ‘mysterious’ black and white hi-con printer stock. The film is an archaeology of how I have come to know this river over these years.” (PH)
FAULTLINES – Gary Popovich, 1998, 16mm, 17 min
In a tapestry of migratory luck, artifacts and shell, a mixed choir of images and sounds engages the paradox of a journey that loses all meaning once it reaches its end. The film’s westward inclination to the American shores of the Pacific, bound in a pitiless growth and decay, drives a dense montage, woven with guns and prayers.
DESERT VEILS – Louise Lebeau, 1992, 16mm, 14 min
“Desert Veils is a personal exploration of images of women filmed in the Chihuahua Desert of north-east Mexico. I was part of a film crew documenting the daily activities of an archeological dinosaur dig; when I wasn't working with the film crew I was shooting my own images, looking beyond the disarticulated fossils and apparent structures, searching for what seemed elusive, hidden from me in my initial encounters with the women I met in Mexico. Given the cultural differences and structures that existed around me, my original images made me feel no closer to what I was seeing. It is through the re-working of the images that I found a way to reveal more closely what was originally veiled from me.” (LL)
TWO PICTURES – Carl Brown and Rose Lowder, 1999, 16mm, 12 min
Canada’s king of visual alchemy teams up with France’s mistress of minimalism to fashion a photo-based work of cinematic abstraction. Tactile and textured, luscious and luminescent, Two Pictures is a singular statement embodying a powerful dichotomy. This is a film that is simultaneously about nothing and about everything.
Approximate running time: 100 minutes
Personal explorations, exhumed family histories, and counter-narratives: Part three of The Road Ended at the Beach and Other Legends turns further inwards, gathering subjective interventions with the past, small monuments for the departed, and reflection on the elusive nature of moving images. Loss, mourning, and remembrance weigh heavily here. Beginning with Mike Cartmell’s enigmatic, invented etymology of the self, In the Form of the Letter ‘X,’ several of these films employ stylized treatments and formal manipulation – via hand-processing, superimposition, optical printing – to mine the gap between reality and representation. Also prevalent is the use of first person voice-over to grapple with the pain of looking back and to give expression to the silences of history and memory. Marian McMahon’s Nursing History, Gary Popovich’s Elegy, and Steve Sanguedolce’s Sweetblood revisit painful episodes from the filmmakers’ pasts to find meaning and comfort in the present, while Sarah Abbott’s Froglight and Janis Cole’s Shaggie: Letters from Prison tender contrasting approaches to the process of memorialization. The program concludes with Mike Hoolboom’s (nearly) image-less White Museum, which speaks to an uncanny truth of photographic media: that images always point towards people, places, things that are not there. This notion of presence and absence joins the work in this program, which attempts to manifest what is unseen in plain sight, making the private public, the invisible visible.
IN THE FORM OF A LETTER "X" – Mike Cartmell, 1985, 16mm, 6 min
“This film is predicated upon the quasi-fictional discovery that [Herman] Melville's name and my name mean the same thing: both came from an old French verb ‘meler’ meaning ‘to come together, to meet, to intersect’ and both are names of towns at crossroads. By exhaustive translation, I reduce them both to ‘X,’ the Greek letter chi (as in chimera), and the rhetorical trope ‘chiasmus.’ The structure of the film is chiasmic (that is, it contains two parallel sections, but the second is reformed/deformed in reverse) and functions as a signature. The text is from Melville’s Pierre and is written chiasmatically in the second section. The film is concerned with names in general, with the question of naming and identity, and with problems attendant to naming (eg. paternity).” (MC)
NURSING HISTORY – Marian McMahon, 1989, 16mm, 10 min
“Nursing History began as an inquiry into the nature of woman's work, specifically the relationship between woman's work as wives and mothers, and woman's work as nurses. Having worked as a nurse for ten years, I decided to locate this inquiry historically, within my own past as represented in the home movies that, for the most part, my father had made and that stand as a record of our family's collective history... In reviewing this public record of interpreted events, I found myself living within memories of events that could not be seen… I began to ask: what else was being recorded here and whose histories were these images claiming to represent?” (MM)
FROGLIGHT – Sarah Abbott, 1997, 16mm, 4 min
“In Froglight, poetic voice-over narration is woven with images and sounds from the natural landscape to engage viewers’ imaginations. As a result of allowing elements to come magically together in the creative process, the film has an intangible sensibility that echoes the experience of trying to trust in something that cannot be seen or touched. Froglight is an exploratory film made during a five-day hand-processing retreat led by Canadian experimental filmmaker Philip Hoffman. The film is in memory of Phil’s wife, Marian McMahon - filmmaker, academic and independent curator. Her ideas and suggestions were instrumental in the development of Froglight.” (SA)
ELEGY – Gary Popovich, 1989, 16mm, 21 min
Amidst the ghosts of his cultural roots, Popovich creates a lyrical and loving light monument dealing with separation, change and death. "Part diary, part travelogue, part memorium for a friend's death, Elegy deftly and poetically blends the private concerns of the filmmaker, a discovery of roots in his native Yugolavia, and the insubstantiality of remembered moments.” (Kass Banning, Now Magazine)
SWEETBLOOD – Steve Sanguedolce, 1993, 16mm, 13 min
“Sweetblood’s chief elements include a flurry of family photos, a collage of Italian immigrant voices and a bottle of red. Expertly made, this memoir is Steve Sanguedolce's hymn to his family, and his own secret history of the seventies." (Toronto Festival of Festivals)
SHAGGIE: LETTERS FROM PRISON – Janis Cole, 1990, 16mm, 12 min
Marlene Moore was incarcerated in juvenile facilities at the age of thirteen. She spent the next twenty years behind bars. In 1988, Marlene ended her life at Kingston's Prison for Women. She was 33 years old. Known as Shaggie to her friends, Marlene made headlines in the mid-Eighties with a sensational trial that branded her as “Canada’s most dangerous female offender.” Despite efforts by her friends to erase that label, it haunted her to grave.
WHITE MUSEUM – Mike Hoolboom, 1986, 16mm, 32 min
“White Museum is a 35-minute audio piece with 33 minutes of clear leader tape. In some hands, that could mean a fatal tour into the land of self-indulgence, but Hoolboom manages to make of his cinema without images an engaging, squatter's eye view of the critical landscape. Hoolboom's anecdotal voice-over floats over a soundtrack collage of pop-culture effluvia, television ads and snippets of rock music. His musings on film, the word and the workload of trees often resemble a cerebral stand-up routine." (Robert Everett-Green, Globe and Mail)
Approximate running time: 98 minutes
The final installment of The Road Ended at the Beach and Other Legends focuses on the legacy of the “Escarpment School” through a consideration of its teaching influence. Three of the filmmakers most closely affiliated with the “Escarpment School” – Rick Hancox, Phil Hoffman, and Richard Kerr – have sustained long and distinguished careers in the academy, spreading their insight across a number of institutions and provinces for multiple decades. Others, including Steve Sanguedolce, Mike Hoolboom, and the late Marian McMahon, have also made significant contributions to the cultivation of a Canadian first-person cinema as instructors and mentors, and in Hoolboom’s case, as a profuse and generous writer.
The film artists featured here all received training and/or guidance from Escarpment-associated professors. Cara Morton, whose Across was initiated during a craft-centered imaging retreat taught by Phil Hoffman on his farm in Southern Ontario, first took up the personal filmmaking challenge at Montreal’s Concordia University, as a studentof Rick Hancox’s. Since moving from Sheridan College to Concordia’s Communication Studies Department in 1985, Hancox has supervised the MFA work of John Price, Joshua Bonnetta and many others. Continuing in the rich tradition of poetic landscape cinema, Price’s spare but skilful sea series #5 was filmed during a family trip to Georgian Bay, which borders the Niagara Escarpment. Echoing Price’s piece, Bonnetta’s Long Shadows revisits and reanimates home movies from a past era, conjuring seasons spent on a northern lake.
Hoffman returned to Sheridan College as a full-time instructor in 1986. He taught there for over a decade alongside his former professor Jeffrey Paull before joining the Film and Video Department at Toronto’s York University in 1999. Ryan Feldman’s personal documentary, Eulogy / Obverse began as an assignment in one of Hoffman’s Sheridan classes. In its subject matter and self-questioning address, Eulogy / Obverse recalls Hoffman’s 1983 film, Somewhere Between Jalostotitlan and Encarnacion. The evocation of family history that is central to Hoffman’s project, and that of his colleague Gary Popovich, is likewise reflected in Elida Schogt’s elegy, Zyklon Portrait. Another filmmaker in this program, Tracy German, lived in the heart of the Escarpment and studied with Hoffman in the early-90s. As Hoffman points out, German’s films, which “feature a tender mix of landscape, formalist and quietly feminist” qualities, were certainly inspired by the likes of Hancox, Kerr, McMahon and Hoolboom.
Richard Kerr taught film production at the University of Regina from 1986 to 1999, and was instrumental in engendering a distinctive, landscape-based, prairie cinema. The films of Jason Britski, Ian Toews and Mike Rollo testify to Kerr’s affect. Since relocating to Concordia University’s School of Cinema, drawing many of his former Saskatchewan students east, Kerr has continued to influence incoming waves of celluloid experimenters. The Double Negative Collective, conceived by Karl Lemieux and Daïchi Saïto in 2004 while both were studying at Concordia, has its roots in one of Kerr’s renowned studio classes. Saïto’s masterful Trees of Syntax, Leaves of Axis also calls to mind the meticulous handcrafted work of Carl Brown, who was first introduced to darkroom technique / chemical magic at Sheridan College.
The youngest filmmaker in this program, Marianna Milhorat, represents the latest generation to be influenced by the “Escarpment School.” Studying under Kerr and some of his former students at Concordia, Milhorat’s work forms a link from George Semsel and ‘60s New American Cinema, to Hancox and the “Escarpment School” filmmakers of the late-70s and early-80s, to their students, surveyed here, of the ‘90s and ‘00s; thereby connecting five generations of educators and pupils. Regardless of whether the “Escarpment School” started as an off-the-cuff joke, or an earnest attempt at self-definition and promotion, the proof of its importance can be found in the thirty-plus years of intensely subjective, formally daring films, films that continue to be made and celebrated to this day.
ACROSS – Cara Morton, 1997, 16mm, 3 min
“Across is about the sometimes difficult journey from one psychic space to another. From a place in the abusive past, to a place called survival.” (Liz Czach, Toronto International Film Festival)
THIS IS NOT AN ANCHOR, THIS BOAT IS NOT AN ANCHOR – Marianna Milhorat, 2007, Beta SP, 11 min
“Through a dense mist we emerge into a foggy marshland. Slowly and achingly a mysterious landscape is revealed. Foghorns and sharp cuts jolt the meandering sense of place and memory, creating a sense of unease and anxiety within.” (Images Festival).
FOUR CORNERS – Ian Toews, 1999, 16mm, 6 min
Four Corners was shot in the U.S. in the Navajo Reservation. “Without using words or sensational imagery, this film makes a powerful statement in communicating the horror of environmental pollution.” (Jury, 30th Tampere International Short Film Festival)
SHOULDERS ON A MAP – Jason Britski, 2004, 16mm, 4 min
"An endless inventory of trees, snow, rocks, and water rolls by onscreen in this experimental travelogue. Shoulders on a Map is a Super 8 homage to transportation, motion, and the breathtaking landscape of the Canadian Rockies." (Ben Murray, Toronto International Film Festival Programmer)
A PRIVATE PATCH OF BLUE – Tracy German, 1998, 16mm, 13 min
"An auto-portrait of maternity, private patch shows Toronto filmer Tracy German quietly expectant, keening through winterludes of surprise before the birth of her first child. Episodically structured and materially assured, German's exacting observational sense re-creates her domestic surround from the point of view of her boy-to-be, lurking over woodpiles and rock with eyes wide in wonder, turning the surrounding bush into a softly focused pastel glaze.” (Mike Hoolboom)
SEA SERIES #5: GEORGIAN BAY – John Price, 2010, 35mm, silent, 5 min
"In-camera experimentation as the sun set in a beautiful part of the world with loved ones close at hand. In this idyllic space, I could not help but wonder about the sustainability of the experience... clean air & fresh water... loving children... film stock for my camera. In this light it became a multi-dimentional anthropology." (JP)
ZYKLON PORTRAIT – Elida Schogt, 1990, 16mm, 13 min
Zyklon Portrait is about Zyklon B - the pesticide transformed into a genocidal weapon by the Nazis in the 1940s. It is also an elegy for the filmmaker’s grandparents. After years of silence, the filmmaker’s mother finally talks about her parents’ horrific fate. Zyklon Portrait is a Holocaust film without Holocaust imagery: family photographs, underwater photography and hand-painted imagery draw a personal story out of historical minutiae.
EULOGY / OBVERSE – Ryan Feldman, 1999, 16mm, 7 min
A filmmaker confronts his own sense of responsibility based on images he has created.
GHOSTS AND GRAVEL ROADS – Mike Rollo, 2008, Beta SP, 16 min
An inventory of lost memories and places, the sun bleached landscape of Saskatchewan serves as a metaphor for displacement, a framing of emptiness and absence. Traveling to forgotten towns and channeled through old family photographs the camera catalogues the haunting remnants of the past, frail monuments and communities laid bare, broken under economic collapse. Under the weight of the prairie skies a visceral, personal encounter is revealed in the solace of open space.
LONG SHADOWS – Joshua Bonnetta 2009, 35mm with sound on vinyl record, 12 min
Animating the frames of long lost and decaying home movies of the 1950's in watercolor, Long Shadows re-constructs these moments and gestures into haunted sequences, dreaming back through the seasons of a childhood spent on a northern lake. Radio transmitted tape loops created from site specific hydrophone and field recordings, along with piano, provide the aural accompaniment revisiting the location 60 years later in a dialogue between past and present. A loose recreation of the Vita-phone system of the 20's the soundtrack is pressed to vinyl record and performed as a double system work.
TREES OF SYNTAX, LEAVES OF AXIS – Daïchi Saïto, 2009, 35mm, 10 min
Trees of Syntax, Leaves of Axis is Saïto's second collaboration with musician Malcolm Goldstein, who composed and performed the original structured improvisation score for the film. The film explores familiar landscape imagery Saïto and Goldstein share in their neighbourhood at the foot of Mount-Royal Park in Montréal. Using images of maple trees in the park as the main visual motif, Saïto creates a film in which the formations of the trees and their subtle interrelation with the space around them act as an agent to transform viewer's sensorial perception. Richly colored and entirely hand-processed, Trees of Syntax, Leaves of Axis is a poem of vision and sound that seeks perceptual insight and revelation through a syntactical structure based on patterns, variations and repetition.
Approximate running time: 100 minutes