ezra winton

What is Screen Ethics?

Posted by in Cinema, Festivals

Below is an excerpt from my manuscript Buying In to Doing Good: Documentary Politics and Curatorial Ethics at the Hot Docs Film Festival , to be published by McGill-Queen’s University Press in 2020. When considering the liberal festival experience, agnostic curation sidesteps what I call screen ethics, an approach to media or screen arts that denies the possibility of content being tidily and unproblematically divorced from context, and holds that ethical considerations must include the ways in which films are made and the ways in which films circulate and are…read more

Radical Media Advert: A Values Dissonance

Posted by in Advertising, Alt Media

Radical Media is an advertising, marketing and production company known for, among other things, trademarking the term “radical media,” as well as threatening activists, artists and academics with lawsuits if they dare to use the term for public events. The only thing “radical” about the company is its departure from the term’s rich history of creating collaborative, reciprocal, accessible, participatory community-based media. Recently I came across an advert the company made for Walmart, starring Hans Zimmer. In the advert, entitled “The Walmart Box” and directed by Hollywood filmmaker Nancy Meyers,…read more

Fall Speaking Engagements

Posted by in Academix

I’m fortunate enough to have been invited to speak about my current research and other projects at a few institutions in Quebec and Ontario this Fall (2018). It’s always so rewarding to visit communities and engage in discussions with people who are invested in the same topics and issues one is researching and writing about. I’m so grateful to all the folks who organize these talks and who take time out of their busy lives to come out to the events. I’ve done two of these so far: a talk…read more

The Launch of Documentary Futurism

Posted by in Cinema Politica, Uncategorized

On September 13th, 2018, the world will receive 15 speculative gifts. On that forward-looking day Cinema Politica launches our newest project in Montreal, Documentary Futurism. Way back in 2016 we pitched a wild idea to the Canada Council for the Arts for their New Chapter initiative (meant to mark the occasion of Canada’s supposed 150th birthday). It was audacious: seed a new film genre by commissioning 15 short films that blend documentary techniques with the speculative or imaginary. We called it The Next 150: Documentary Futurism (or Documentary Futurism for…read more

Against empathy?

Posted by in Animation, Doc Side

This short animation from The Atlantic highlights some of Professor Paul Bloom’s thoughts on why empathy—at least a kind of status quo mainstream empathy—isn’t really a good thing at all. The short should really be called “Against warm glow altruism,” as Bloom is focused on building off of Peter Singer’s concept of effective altruism and this isn’t really an argument against empathy per se. The animation is a little rudimentary, but it still serves as a provocation to the burgeoning industry of liberal documentary and its attendant army of NGOs,…read more

20 Questions for Film Curators

Posted by in Art, Cinema, Culture and Politics, Festivals

This past winter I taught a graduate seminar course at Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema (Concordia University) entitled “Curatorial Practices and the Politics of Programming.” It was a fantastic and meaningful experience and I was fortunate enough to have 13 engaged students, all of whom suffered along with me as I attempted to make sense of my overly-ambitious and newly minted syllabus. After a few weeks of the course and after several discussions around programming ethics, responsibilities, practices, and outcomes, we decided to compile a list of questions that someone curating or programming film might…read more

Fighting Fascism by way of Understanding the Fascists

Posted by in Doc Side

One of the common criticisms of advocacy films like Bully that I’ve heard and share is that the filmmakers narrowly focus on victims without ever exploring those who perpetrate. These films help along the equivocal knee-jerk reaction to oppression when we have a two-dimensional villain to point to: kids today! But why do kids bully and what are their lives like? Answering, or at least interrogating, these questions would move us in a direction to better understand the complexities of bullying and would likely elicit a more nuanced, thoughtful reaction…read more

Streaming Truth to Power: CPVOD Launches!

Posted by in Cinema Politica, Doc Side

The last 48 hours have been quite the whirlwind of activity at Cinema Politica HQ here in Montreal. We’ve been planning a launch date for our newest expansion of the political cinema terrain: Cinema Politica Video-On-Deman (or #CPVOD as we like to call it for short). Anna, our fearless Network Coordinator (she works with all the CP locals, or chapters, worldwide) came up with the brilliant turn-of-phase above, Streaming Truth to Power (a riff on our tag-line mandate: “screening truth to power”). Marie-Noelle has been multi-tasking design and translation to…read more

Curating the North: Documentary Screening Ethics and Inuit Representation in (Festival) Cinema

Posted by in Doc Side, Indigenous Art

This article was originally published at ArtThreat.net on December 17, 2015. Documentary festivals are certainly not immune to scandal and controversy, and this year’s RIDM, which took place in Montreal in November 2015, was no exception. Following on the heels of the festival’s public screenings of Dominic Gagnon’s film Of the North, Inuit artists like Tanya Tagaq and Alethea Arnaquq-Baril took to social media to express their dismay, anger and frustration over the inclusion of an ethically problematic film in the festival’s program. The resulting fallout revealed a deep chasm…read more