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

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

Hot Docs 22: CanCon and BrandCon

Posted by in Cinema, Doc Side, Festivals

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

Programmers Rant – 2014

Posted by in Cinema, Doc Side

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

Hot Docs 2014 preview: politically punchy program, but diversity concerns persist

Posted by in Cinema, Doc Side, Festivals

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

A new class, a new city

Posted by in Academix, Cinema

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!

Old and new political satire

Posted by in Cinema

These two short political satires (above) are from different eras (1986 and 2013, respectively) and tackling totally different issues (colonization/racism and sexuality/homophobia, respectively), but watching the newer of the two, Love Is All You Need totally reminded me of BabaKieuria, a classic that has been long-forgotten in the canons of political cinema.


Hot Docs turns twenty

Posted by in Cinema, Doc Side, Festivals

Twenty years ago today, it was a year like any other. The ceremonial swap between less liberal and more liberal leader of the United States took place when Clinton picked up where Bush left off (launching a cruise missile attack on Iraq just half a year into his term and fine-tuning the ongoing regime of domestic and international deregulation for the next eight), Czechoslovakia emitted more post-Soviet fragmentation moans and became two independent states, North Korea announced its imminent withdrawal from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, and Canada saw the four-month…read more