Moving Images: The Personal is Political & Interview with Co-Curators

Another week, another batch of short films from Moving Images in Gallery 1C03 at the University of Winnipeg. Wish it could be like this every week!

This time, I also have a Q&A with Moving Images co-curators Jennifer Gibson and Alison Gillmor (note: Q&A edited for length, comment or email me if you’d like the full version)! Read it below and after I’ll have some more thoughts/images/videos about this week’s short films.


Q1: Is Moving Images an annual screening program?

A1: Moving Images is a special project that has been organized in honour of Gallery 1C03’s 30th anniversary and the University of Winnipeg’s 50th anniversary to celebrate the talent of the University community. We did not envision it as an annual project but there are certainly plenty more fantastic works that could be screened. It’s a great idea to consider a follow-up.

Q2: How did you decide on the themes for the programs?

A2: They came about rather organically; we found that particular approaches and ideas were being dealt with by multiple artists and so we found ourselves grouping those works together. That being said, there are no hard and fast rules in terms of which films are part of specific themes or programs. A number of them – Shimby Zegeye-Gebrehiwot’s yaya/ayat, to give one example — could be screened in multiple programs.

Q3: Are all the featured filmmakers University of Winnipeg alumni? If not, about how many are?

A3:  All of the artists are alumni, current or former students, and current or former faculty and instructors. There are 23 short films directed by 32 artists in Moving Images. A number of the films were co-directed by a collective or at least by more than one person; in those cases, not all of the artists are alums, students or faculty. Seventeen of the artists have degrees from The University of Winnipeg; another five are current or former students. The exhibition also includes shorts by six current and former faculty or instructors of the University.

Q4: Are all the filmmakers Winnipeggers? If not, about how many are?

A4: All of the filmmakers have lived in Winnipeg at some point. Many of them – including UofW’s most famous filmmaker alumnus, Guy Maddin – still call Winnipeg home. Others who have gone on to careers elsewhere, including Matthew Rankin and Ryan McKenna – they are now active in Montreal’s robust film scene. Sol Nagler is based in Halifax where he teaches film production at NSCAD University. And Danishka Esterhazy recently re-located to Oakland, California where she is making waves at festivals as big as Sundance.

Q5: How did you choose the films? Were you already familiar with most of the films (if so, how?) or did you seek them out after choosing the themes?

A5: We spent many, many hours watching films by artists that we knew had a connection to the University. Previous research helped us in this regard, but we also had a lot of assistance from local film and video distributors at the Winnipeg Film Group and Video Pool. They recommended artists and titles for us to watch. It was really challenging to select a final list of works; Winnipeg has such a rich community of artists. If we had more funding, we would have been able to present even more films.

Q6: How has attendance of the screenings been? 

A6: We’ve had solid attendance though I’d love to see even more folks come out. Moving Images offers a rare opportunity to see these works for free, and we really want as many people as possible to be exposed to the depth and range of artists’ films in Manitoba.

Q7: I’ve noticed the final program Funny Haha and Funny Peculiar has been getting some press. Is there something special about that theme? Maybe Markus.Milos.Ian.Fabian’s popularity after their short film screened at TIFF?

A7: It’s interesting that this particular program was highlighted in an article that circulated through the Canadian Press. It does include a short by the rising start collective Markus.Milos.Ian.Fabian. We are showing their 2015 film, The Champ, which is a sort of morality tale couched in pop culture and dark humour; the collective cleverly deconstruct delusional machismo and the fleeting fame of the sports hero in this piece. The Funny Haha and Funny Peculiar program points to the resonance of deadpan, self-deprecating prairie humour characteristic in Winnipeg filmmaking over the decades. To this end, the program features a historic piece by the Milos, Ian and Fabian’s UofW film professors, Howard Curle and John Kozak. Their film Two Men in Search of a Plot – which the duo made in their film school days in the 1970s – uses slapstick comedy as a foil for the two sadsack protagonists who try, in vain, to cover up their steadily mounting crimes.

 

 

Q8: There’s a panel discussion approaching with Dr. Andrew Burke on January 30th. What will the discussion be focussing on? 

A8: Andrew’s panel brings together three filmmakers – Rhayne Vermette, Mike Maryniuk, and Solomon Nagler – to discuss cinematic experimentalism, handmade, handcrafted, and hand-processed filmmaking, and the persistence of the analogue in a digital age. The artists will show clips of their work and explore the connections between education, experimentation, and the energy of independent filmmaking. Looking back at their past works and forward at their works-in-progress, Cinematic Experimentalism will explore the invention and idiosyncrasy that’s at the heart of Winnipeg filmmaking and is on display in Moving Images.

We also have a panel of women filmmakers coming up on February 9. Art historian Julie Nagam will moderate this event and artists Danishka Esterhazy, Jaimie Isaac, Freya Bjorg Olafson and Jenny Western will discuss their work. The panel is titled Unravelling the braids of colonialism, gender and the body, which gives clues as to the diverse themes that will be up for discussion.

As with the exhibition, both of the panels are free and open to everyone. The panels both start at 7:00 p.m. and take place in the University’s Eckhardt-Gramatté Hall.

Q9: I read online there’s going to be an online publication related to Moving Images, where can people find that?

A9: We are working on the publication and hope to have it on-line toward the end of the exhibition’s run. It will include a curatorial essay, list of works, film still images, artist biographies, and creative responses by Roewan Crowe and Jonathan Ball. The publication will be available as a print-on-demand pdf publication on Gallery 1C03’s section of the UofW website: www.uwinnipeg.ca/art-gallery. In the meantime, if you visit the gallery, you can read the curatorial essay and artist bios in a hard copy brochure.

Q10: Do you think the programs are representative of the Winnipeg film scene?

A10: As curators, it is our hope that the works in Moving Images offer an entry point to the breadth of Winnipeg’s experimental, artistic film scene. There are so many artists using film and video in innovative and personal ways. If Moving Images stimulates Gallery visitors to delve more deeply into Winnipeg’s art film scene, we will be thrilled!

I’d also like to add that the exhibition in Gallery 1C03 is complemented by The Tender Fragments, an exhibition of Guy Maddin’s collages and the presentation of his Séances on-line film project with Evan and Galen Johnson. This work is also on view January 12 – February 18 and can be seen in the University of Winnipeg Library’s Hamilton Galleria space.


Now, straight into The Personal is Political!

1) 504938C (2005) by Ervin Chartrand

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An indigenous man being released from prison is torn between his family and gang-family. In the still above, he lets the smoke wash over him as he remembers how he got in prison. I liked the drum music and how the drummers were actually shown so it was more than simply background music. I don’t know if this is just me, but near the end of the film he holds his feather in a way that seemed vaguely phallic. That might just be my dirty mind acting up but I couldn’t stop seeing it so thought worth mentioning!  The film is a lovely snapshot of a big moment.I read on the WFG website that 504938C was actually the filmmakers own prison number.

Watch the film here.

2) Nikamowin (Song) (2008) by Kevin Lee Burton

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This film is an exploration of language. In the beginning of the film, one voice asks another why he doesn’t speak Cree. The rest of the film is very song-like (hence the film title) with very interesting visuals. It’s constantly moving, like the view out the window of a moving car. Perhaps this is like trying to keep up with a language you don’t know very well (#CrazyInterpretationGuessTime). The visuals become more and more experimental. It often uses symmetry, like in the still above, but not always. Generally, there’s a lot of comparison, like between still black and moving images or rural and city. I liked that the visuals matched with the song, it really drew me in.

Watch the film here.

3) yaya/ayat (2010) by Shimby Zegeye-Gebrehiwot

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This film is about a young woman wanting to connect with her Grandmother, who lives in Greece and speaks another language. Some visuals feel like home movies and give the film a very personal feel. The narration becomes more poetry-like, which I enjoyed. One of the narration lines “this diaspora of diaspora” stuck with me the most. The above still of the Grandmother pouring tea was one of my favourite shots.

Watch a clip of Shimby Zegeye-Gebrehiwot’s other film Diaspora Ethiopia here.

4) In Still Time (2015) by Leslie Supnet 

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This film is an experimental animation piece. I found the combination of the visual and music strangely soothing (though not sure that was the intention). People and words would occassionally pop in. It seemed like an exploration of political conflict (#MoreCrazyInterpretationGuessTime).

More of Supnet’s work here.

5) Land Memories: Starlight Tours (2015) by Scott Benesiinaabandan

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This film was very visually interesting. I liked the layering and movement. I’m not sure what that person shaped hole means but I was intrigued by it. It’s the shortest film of this program so it felt like it ended kind of abruptly.

Watch a clip here.

Thanks very much for reading! Would love to hear what you think in the comments 🙂

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