Programmers Rant – 2014

November 28, 2014 · 0 comments

I’ve watched over 50 documentaries in the last two weeks (and many more over 14 years of programming), and here’s what I’m thinking:*

The first point is so crucial that I’d like to just put it up front and center, then get on with the lesser evils of contemporary documentary filmmaking: If white people, who are usually or always cis-gendered males, are featured in your film as the only subjects, protagonists or voices of authority, then you have either made a film about a small remote sect in some distant corner of the world where only white people live or you have failed Representation 101. Have you been told there are no women geologists who are working on the issue you’re highlighting? Look a little harder – guaranteed there are women who can speak to the issue. No people of colour (POC) in your purview? Then step out a little further – they’re there. And now, on to my rant list.

1) I’m altogether done with pretty images observational filmmaking – it’s great for mainstream festivals and yes that light refraction is splendid, and at this point we all understand that the equipment is sooooo nice that’s irresistible, but how about some perspective/POV? Which brings me to point number two…

2) Making a film about injustice? What are the root causes and what are the names of the people/companies who work the levers perpetuating those root causes? If I’m still asking that when the credits roll, then your film is of little use to me and the scores of activists who want to use your film as a platform for radical progressive change. Yes we can all Google the issue and find out the name of the mining/oil/gas company sowing destruction and misery and yes some of us probably know it’s got to do with colonialism/capitalism/racism/sexism, but why didn’t you say so?

[Read more]

{ 0 comments }

Wind

An incredible short film based on a photograph (thank-you Hesam Hanafi)

November 3, 2014 · 0 comments

{ 0 comments }

From left to right, at the Cinema Politica book launch: Svetla Turnin, John Greyson, Thomas Waugh and Ezra Winton.From left to right, at the Cinema Politica book launch: Svetla Turnin, John Greyson, Thomas Waugh and Ezra Winton.

High up on the eleventh floor of Concordia’s EV (Engineering and Visual Arts) building in downtown Montreal 150 or so people gathered as a sun set reflected in orange hues across a range of high-rise buildings. In our own way we had organized an event that embodied the intriguing marriage of art and engineering, mostly expressed in the presentation by the unstoppable, insanely inspiring and altogether heroic human John Greyson (who in one part spoke of using GPS tracking devices to outline portraits of former fellow inmates by running through Toronto neighbourhoods).

We were gathered to hear John talk about his time in a Cairo prison and about art and solidarity and resistance, and expanding the narrative past himself and other “exceptional” news stories. We were also gathered to celebrate Cinema Politica’s tenth year of existence, not an easy feat in a climate where documentary funding and dissemination venues and windows seem to be closing at an alarming rate (and don’t get me started about our own funding struggles!). We were, lastly, also gathered to witness the launch of the first-ever Cinema Politica book, Screening Truth to Power: A Reader on Documentary Activism.

It was a magical, monumental and unforgettable moment in time.

[Read more]

{ 0 comments }

littlechildarticlescreenshotThe above graphic is a screen shot from the Art Threat site, which currently features my newest interview with an artist whose work is alive with history, heart and healing. I’ve been honoured and privileged to interview George Littlechild once before, and seized upon the opportunity for a follow-up on the heels of the release of a new book dedicated to this remarkable First Nations artist. Hop on over to Art Threat to read the full interview, and enjoy!

{ 0 comments }

Greyson_MacaroniThis is the poster for the John Greyson talk and CP book launch in Montreal in a few days. Can’t wait!

{ 0 comments }

A new class, a new city

April 2, 2014

This just in! NSCAD University has informed me that they will indeed offer my class, “Cinemas of Globalization” this summer. I’m thrilled to be heading to Halifax for May and June to teach this intense, around-the-world course on the cultural, social, historical and political context of non-mainstream and non-Western cinemas! Now, it’s time to curate […]

Read the full article →

Strategies and Tactics

March 30, 2014

I’ll be speaking at this roundtable on April 9th in Montreal. Looking forward to it!

Read the full article →

Halifax and Beyond

March 20, 2014

Earlier this month I had the pleasure and privilege of participating in NSCAD’s Cineflux Symposium, an academic gathering that explores the “old new” forms, modes, practices and theories of cinema. My Postdoctoral supervisor, Dr. Darrell Varga, invited me to present a paper on the politics of presence and documentary activist screening spaces, which was indeed […]

Read the full article →

POV Magazine

February 21, 2014

When Marc Glassman, the editor of POV magazine, asked me to join the publication as the newest contributing editor last year I was honoured. As Canada’s only source of writing on documentary culture, politics and production, the quarterly has been my go-to on all things doc for some time. Started by the Canadian Independent Film […]

Read the full article →

Writing a PhD thesis is like sailing (if you’ve never done either)

February 19, 2014

On December 18th, 2013, I sat in a stodgy IT classroom in Carleton University (Ottawa), surrounded by five extremely intelligent people (one via Skype) who were there to challenge, provoke, rock and ultimately assess me. It was the end of six-and-a-half years of “doing” my PhD, and there I was, my doorstopper thesis in front […]

Read the full article →