North America’s largest and most sweeping doc-deluge, the Canadian International Hot Docs Festival, is once again in full swing, and the moment wouldn’t be complete, for me at least, without some form of commentary that assesses this institutional giant as it marks another year. In that spirit and as with past “taking stock” previews (2014 is here, 2013 is here and 2012 is here) of Hot Docs, I humbly present my take on this year’s fest, divided into three Sergio Leone-inspired sections: what’s promising, what’s looking like a fixer-upper, and…read more
Challenge for Change/Société nouvelle was a program launched by the National Film Board of Canada in the late sixties that facilitated the production of around 200 social documentaries known for their inclusion of subjects in the production process and their uncompromising critiques of government programs. In 2010 I co-edited a book on CFC/SN with Tom Waugh and Michael Brendan Baker (check out more on this great collection here) and it seems those three years of hard work producing that door-stopper are still turning up new offers to talk about the…read more
A couple of weeks ago I had the honour and privilege to be invited as a guest to a book launch in Toronto for a yearly anthology published by Tightrope Books called Best Canadian Essays. My POV Magazine essay, Upping the Anti: Documentary, Capitalism and Liberal Consensus in an Age of Austerity was selected by the series editor, Christopher Doda and this year’s guest co-edtior Natalie Zina Walschots. It is such a huge thrill to be selected among the hundreds of articles these editors read throughout the year—from over 60…read more
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…read more
It’s springtime in Toronto and that means Canada’s premiere documentary showcase is back for another jam-packed ten day event that will deliver the world of doc to eager local audiences and international festivalgoers. This is Hot Docs‘s first year with new Executive Director Brett Hendrie steering the ship (Chris McDonald is now overseeing the Bloor Hot Docs Cinema) and it looks like Hendrie has continued his predecessor’s legacy of putting on huge, popular and energized festivals. In particular, the Hot Docs talks this year look fantastic, with discussions around environmental…read more
Above: 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…read more
I first stumbled upon George Littlechild’s art at the Comox Valley Art Gallery in my hometown of Courtenay, British Columbia. After reeling from the emotional turmoil and historical reopening, rapprochement and reordering rendered in his bold and colourful brush strokes and integration of collage through archives, I was delighted further to learn that Littlechild resided right there, in my little town. After several years run by a city council dominated by career politicians and land developers, Courtenay has come to resemble the big box subsidiary that many other communities in…read more
This is the poster for the John Greyson talk and CP book launch in Montreal in a few days. Can’t wait!
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 the playlist and accompanying texts – sweet!
I’ll be speaking at this roundtable on April 9th in Montreal. Looking forward to it!