Spring renewal – the work continues as the sun appears

Posted by in Academix, Cinema Politica

From left to right: Svetla Turnin, Dorothy Todd Hénaut, George Stoney, Tom Waugh, Ezra

From left to right: Svetla Turnin, Deirdre Boyle, Dorothy Todd Hénaut, George Stoney, Tom Waugh, Ezra

So, February is thankfully gone. This winter has been a slow, protracted grey gloom that is only now lifting with the first week of March. We had far less snow than usual (making our ski passes not worth the money we spent on them) and dark dark days. As the clouds lift and the sun begins to thaw us, I’m preparing for the next stage in my triad of work: PhD, CP, CFC/SN.

In PhD news, I’m waiting to hear back from my committee on my Second Comprehensive Exam, which was really an essay the student has to write to show an expertise in one particular area of the field of study. I’m not surprised it’s taking them a bit of time given I handed in a real monster of a paper – it is double the length it should be, at 69 pages. I wrote a literature review of scholarship on audiences and discovered it was a much more difficult task than I had anticipated: there is a insane amount of literature out there and I am by nature not a very organized person. I hope the committee approves the essay, which will mean I will defend it at the end of March, and following a successful defense, I will then move on to my PhD Thesis Proposal (writing it, then also defending it). Then the epic part will happen: the writing of a 200 page tight, seamless thesis.

In CP (Cinema Politica) news, things are as frenetic and busy as ever. Svetla and I are desperately trying to delegate work we do to others, and some amazing people have recently come forward to help us, which is so welcomed I don’t have words to even describe it. We have a new intern who is busy writing funding applications in French for Quebec arts funding agencies. We have undergraduate students at Concordia running a fee levy increase campaign. We have Svetla’s sister, Yoana, working her way through a huge list of tasks. And we have an office (that we haven’t had time to move into yet). And lastly, today we are being presented an award for Concordia Sustainable Champion at Concordia at 5 PM – Woohoo!!

In CFC/SN (which stands for Challenge for Change/Société nouvelle, which references the book project I have spent the last three years working on – Challenge for Change: Activist Documentary at the National Film Board of Canada) news, we’ve had two book launches out of five. The Toronto launch on February 25th was a smashing success – over 60 people came and many were academics, filmmakers and documentary advocates. We showed clips of CFC/SN films and had a low-key wine and snacks reception at the NFB mediatheque in downtown Toronto.

This past Saturday we had our Montreal launch, which will be our biggest for sure. First we had over 100 people attend nearly two hours of presentations and clips of CFC/SN films in the de Seve Cinema on campus. It was inspiring and utterly delightful seeing all the grey-haired Challenge for Changers show up, swap notes and stories, and best of all, film each other an the even with their video cameras – some professions never die! The highlight was definitely having George Stoney come up from New York. Not only was he one of the key people to get Challenge for Change off the ground as its original director between 1968 and 1970 but this American filmmaker—who incidentally is considered the “father of public access television“—made the trip despite his 94 years!! George came up with fellow book contributor Deirdre Boyle, and both are pictured above with myself, Svetla Dorothy (another veteran CFC/SN filmmaker, based in Montreal) and Tom Waugh.

Following the screenings we all shuffled over to one of Concordia’s fancy new buildings and went up to the EV’s 11th floor space, where CP had its fifth anniversary party and where one can take in a gorgeous vista of the Montreal skyline, and mingled. Svetla organized the whole event like a true pro: there were cool decorations (old pictures from CFC/SN and film reel everywhere), music playing from old CFC/SN films, delicious food from her caterer friend Kim, and of course the Co-op Bookstore selling copies of the book. Our new intern went around and filmed everyone and even did some interviews with some of the legends form the CFC/SN. I’ll be posting that video soon.

So, two down and three to go: next up, Ottawa on Friday!

In other news, check out my POV Magazine article, recently republished on documentary as a tool for education at the Art Threat site.