1997 Films

An Untidy Package Canada Debbie McGee This film is what we might call a full-blown woman's documentary, by and about the nearly ⅓ of the population affected by the 1992 cod moratorium. In interviewing five women from coastal communities around the province, McGee records the voices of the not frequently heard amid the din of union meetings. A thoughtful, thought-provoking and timely treatment of a subject whose time is running out.
Vortex Canada Roslyn Power A whirling visual trip around a female centre, images of edgy attitude and playful funk. Different, but in keeping with an emerging genre of exuberant spirits.
The Sinking Canada Anne Troake An experimental underwater dance of haunting beauty, this film is a tour de force of impressive grace. What begins as a sedimented history of shipwrecks evolves into a personal dream of balletic swimming. The real question is: how did the director hold her breath for so long?
Motions Canada Sheilagh O'Leary There is hardly anything we can say to express the power of this artful home video of the birth of O’Leary’s baby. This is a stunning celebration of the life principle itself.
Kathleen Shannon: On Film, Feminism & Other Dreams Canada Gerry Rogers A tribute to the woman who founded Studio D, the NFB’s now defunct site of feminist filmmaking, this is a moving bio-doc for the records. After all, Studio D itself was devoted to recording the lives and interests of women since 1974. Now retired in the woody comfort of B.C., Shannon opened all of her home and a lot of her head to one of our favorite filmmakers, who elegantly captures a series of revelatory moments.
Á L’ombre/Under the Weather Canada Tali, NFB This animated, award-winning treat is enigmatic not so much for the story it tells, but how it tells it. Words are unnecessary here, and this stunningly evocative illusion technique transforms the screen into a readable seascape, comprehensible to all Canada’s founding nations. A tone poem, full of mood and clouds with silver linings.
Children Speak Canada Bozenna Heczko, Georgine Strathy Kids say the darndest things in this animated meditation on the big questions. Six and seven-year olds were asked to explain nothing less than the mystery of creation, and you might be surprised to hear how imaginatively cosmological they can be on matters of life and death. These kids should be in charge of the UN and Religious Studies Departments.
Quilt Canada Gayle Thomas This short and kaleidoscopic take on the material world of patterns is more or less like a trip on mescaline, without the memory loss and criminal charges. In our time quilts are widely recognized as the brilliant results of communal work, social histories, and plain old living labour. More than the sum of their intricately wrought parts, quilts comfort, give warmth, tell tales, and brighten our lives.
You Can't Beat A Woman Canada Gail Singer A brilliantly witty documentary that shows how you can spin celluloid gold from an ugly subject. The crew travelled to five countries, including Canada, to compare and contrast the reality of domestic violence. The uncannily informative result is an unpredictable blend of humor and drop-dead seriousness.
Lovehound Canada Cathy McInnes, Neil McInnes An animated tale of love and real estate. Clearly these animators know how to laugh at the silliness of human behaviour, as we are lucky enough to see in this triangulated story. Pete loves Ronnie’s mistress, Ethel, but Ronnie is his boss and so romance is complicated. Then there’s this dog that keeps showing up...aw, you just have to see it for yourself. Ain’t nothing but a lovehound.
Through the Glass Ceiling UK Leeds Animation Workshop Once upon a time there was a pretty young girl who wanted to be rich, loved and happy. The problem was that she wasn’t living in a fairy tale world but in the real world, where shaving your legs and competing for good work was as much a part of the day as pay inequality and failed diets. In a world without fairy godmothers and handsome princes, what’s a hopeful girl to do? Why, storm the palace and start a revolution of course!
Fatal Reaction: New York Holland Marijke Jongbloed An amazingly unique trip through compulsory heterosexuality. The dutch filmmaker behind this film is a very modern model of a working woman with a mission. She isn’t looking for a wise man--just a decent guy. And in urban North America, such a prize is harder to find than a good parking space. Focussing on a dynamic bulge of angst and vulnerability, this film traces one hilarious woman’s particular quest for partnership that yields some triumphant moments, but perhaps more candour and humiliation than she bargained for.
Cafe Me USA Bianca Bob Miller From arguably the wittiest, zippiest, unabashedly satiric video artist to grace our screens. We know all about Cafe Me, don’t we? The decor is all mirrors, we’re the only guests, and we’re always open for business. But enough talk about Us--what do you think of Us?
Dooley Gardens Canada Mary Sexton, Jennice Ripley This hilarious TV pilot was bred and beaten into comedy by some of St. John's finest writers and actors. Starring Andy Jones and Mary Walsh and a host of well-know eccentrics, the film is situated at a large indoor skating rink that looks remarkably like Memorial Stadium. Townie class wars, sexual misadventures, situational mayhem, and just plain old nonsense play both sides of the boards. They shoot, they score.
Sea of Words UK Helen Miller Typically evocative, lyrical, and watery. That such a short film can suggest so much just shows you how well language can work when it’s freed from conventional contexts. When nouns and verbs float freely in screen space, lovely things happen. Experience this remarkable achievement and see what you think.
Eight Men Called Eugene Canada Sue Rynard An unusual film about...uh...science? An experimental essay of sorts, this fascinating mock doc pushes the cerebral cortex madly off in all directions, or eight directions anyway. This film is a humorously compelling example of what you can do with twelve minutes of reel time and a healthy resistance to genetic engineering.
spacejazzEuros Canada Nicole Chung A heady little video from hogtown that speaks volumes about street life, answering the musical question: what happens when skater girls meet violence and soul music?
Dear Mom USA Diana Bonder A surprisingly original treatment of much travelled turf: our relationships with our mothers. Bonder gets at the dark impulses we harbour against the women who made us, but she does so by hanging the world of the mind all over the screen. In fact, the screen is where we often end up recognizing ourselves. The central figure of this epistolary fantasy must seek her identity in spite of what looks like a mild psychosis and annoying aunts.
Shinjuku Boys UK Kim Longinotoo Picture this: a modern Tokyo night club called “New Marilyn”. the hosts are young women who choose to live as men, otherwise knows as “onnabe”.But get this: the club is frequented with young discernibly feminine women who strike up relationships with their hosts and even fall in love with them. In the West we tend to skip the onnabe stage and go right for the same-sex rights legislation, but in the Far East the pressures, culture, gendering rituals and sexual politics seem rather different. This film takes us into that looking-glass world by visiting with three ‘boys’ in various degrees of uncertainty. Provocative and puzzling, this movie challenges everything you’ve ever thought about karioke and didn't even think of asking.
The Menopause Song Canada Gail Noonan It’s got a great beat and you can have a hot flash to it. The director’s lyrics celebrate freedom of change: no more wraps, no more eggs, no more “tamping no more cramping”. Sounds like a plan. Where do we sign?
What's Got Into Me? USA Cara Biasucci Ever wonder where that expression came from? Do men ever say it? This sweet little treat takes a cute idea and plays with it. A love story between Wanda and a vegetable, this film reminds us that satisfaction comes in many forms. Sometimes, people even get in the way of it. If the divine being had wanted us to rely exclusively on men for fulfillment, She wouldn’t have invented carrots.
Cream Sauce Canada Susan Terril Cream Sauce is not what you think. This is a really sweet little film about food, memories of food, and family and food. Or is that all redundant? Cooking together three “true” stories about cream sauce, Terril has come up with the yummiest sort of film. We like it: it’s not fattening and we were surprised by its aftertaste.
Under Wraps Canada Teresa MacInnes, Penny Wheelwright Let’s get this right out on the counter: it’s a film about menstruation. That’s right, the kind of subject that gives women’s festivals a bad, er, wrap. but why should that be so? As this witty informative doc points out, menstruation is still a hidden topic on our culture, as mysterious to our brothers and boyfriends as the moon. Probing the dense thicket of social relations around this topic, the filmmakers reveal the psychological, political, and environmental costs of covering it up. They travel across the continent visiting artists, talking to the medical establishment, and even checking out the Museum of Menstruation to reveal how and why the monthly taboo continues to operate among and against us.
Still Standing Canada Catherine Quinn We get to watch a lot of films about seniors, women who are leaving their mark, and about the life changes that come with aging. Both craftily directed and spontaneously present, four extraordinary women speak to the camera in this film. These remarkable women are not famous or any more accomplished than any of us, but they are so alive and alert to themselves, so fearlessly articulate, funny and fresh that we wonder if we’ll be as wise and present as they are when we stride into our own futures.
Dike Canada Lisa Hayes Duh, gee, when is a movie like a metaphor? A young women had this, er, problem. She’s, uh, different. you see, she perspires: buckets, dike-loads of water. Arpit-gushes. She tries to cover it up, but people notice. they probably guess. She pretends she’s like everyone else. But sweat finds its own path; she lives in fear of being discovered. Are you with us yet or do you need an interpreter?
So-Lo Canada Susan Poyraz Don’t blink, or you’ll miss this one! This short piece, an animated pun, a “trail of two feet”, a walk through the screen. Adorable and clever. So many shoes, so little time.
Two or Three Things but Nothing for Sure USA Tina DiFeliciantonio, Jane C. Wagner This multi-award winning film has the power to illuminate character, setting, and situation. Focusing on the story of author Dorothy Allison, this film really speaks volumes about growing up poor and abused in the American South of the fifties. Allison’s complex life is captured in the evocatively textured landscape that is poignantly rendered through performance footage and the lyrical cadences of the author’s voice. A triumph of personality and a triumph of a film.
Stolen Moments Canada Margaret Wescott A feature look at lesbianism, but as a comparative study. The director travelled across the globe to see how several different cultures deal and have historically dealt with the continuing and vexing problem of coming out, being out, and wanting out. the film focuses on the particularly terrifying experience of being queer under the Nazis. Films like this make you think that the world is changing in spite of resistance to difference and different ways of loving.
The Front Seat Canada Barbara Mainguy
Sonata Canada Denise Blinn Structed like its title, this film cleverly works out three movements of developing romantic intrigue. A great idea and an ingenious little film. The filmmaker, born in Wabush, understands the subtle relations between our longings and communication technology. Now, who else can say that? Play it again, Denise.
Used Cars USA Melissa Carter Women who make movies make movies about the end of and search for love. In this film we encounter Burt and Caroline on the eve of their divorce. Desperate to reconcile, wimpy neurotic Burt tries every trick in the book. Caroline isn’t dumb enough to fall for it, but she goes along for the ride. Literally.
The Blinking Madonna and Other Miracles USA Beth Harrington This true story is hilariously told in a riveting, witty, and inventive manner. You can’t take your eyes off the screen for a second, and, indeed, that’s the point. If you do you’ll miss how the filmmaker inadvertently recorded a miracle with her video camera, the blink of the Virgin that generated a media frenzy and a holy host of questions. This lively account of an extraordinary event vividly captures the flavour of Boston’s North End where the purported miracle occurred, so the film is also a spirited travelogue of one of the continent's great ethnic neighbourhoods.
The 1000 Yard Stare UK Jocelyn Cammack A surprisingly powerful little film about a hugely important event: the trauma of war and its effects on the family. The war in question was in the Falklands. What happened when the men came home? Was it all a bad dream, or did they really fight to save a country that needed a war like a hole in the ozone? Terribly strong, the memory of this film will long outlive its short little life on the screen.
The Bestiary France Francoise Veillon Very cute, very French, very animated.
Female Perversions USA/Germany Susan Streitfield With Tilda Swinton, Amy Madigan, Karen Sillas, Frances Fisher, and more. This film is about as-out there as a narrative can get, and it;s superb, maybe the most intelligent and challenging film about female sexuality to date. Swinton is at the troubled core of this fictional story evolved from a Freudian-feminist study of female behavior.
Nothing to Be Written Here Canada Wendy Oberlander This moving video traces the director’s discovery of her father’s wartime experience, an experience pieced together from fragments, historical records, and shards of public evidence. The sum of the parts is so powerfully told that you’ll shake your head in wonder at both what she uncovers and how beautifully she does it.
Seven Brides for Uncle Sam Canada Anita McGee This film pulls together Anita’s tireless research and themes of her earlier work into a gorgeous and spirited documentary about women who married those handsome G.I. Joes when all those American soldiers “invaded” Newfoundland culture. That was then, when women preferred the glamour of Elsewhere over the mundane of Here; but this is now, when many of these women look back on folly and fortune, assessing the many roads taken since their first twirls around the Pleasantville dancefloor. What an intelligent piece of work this is.
Elling Lien