1998 Films

A Doll House Renee Pilgrim Pilgrim’s experimental film taught her a lot about the camera’s power while it also shows us something about the passing of time. The house under visual scrutiny no longer exists but this eerie record of its fragile existence sure does. you may never be able to look Barbie in the eyes after this one.
Dooley Darlings Canada Mary Sexton What do you get when you mix Andy Jones, Mary Walsh, and Andrew Younghusband, with Mary Sexton pulling the strings? Why yet another episode of Dooley Gardens of course.This acclaimed CBC TV production is a hilarious sitcom featuring some of our home-grown finest surrounded by trouble.
When Ponds Freeze Over Canada Mary Lewis This gorgeously intelligent hymn to the memory of women, family, and winter has garnered all the prizes and charmed all the film critics. With its fluid impressionistic style and its unraveling image pool, this film conveys the obscure yet common journey into the subconscious. You don’t need to be dangling in a cold pond to recognize the watery ways the mind works under pressure. But you do have to marvel at the director’s ability to represent that process so persuasively.
M.C. Escher: Sky and Water Gayle Thomas You’ll love this delightfully animated visual essay on one of the most popular graphic artists of our time: a guy who turned snakes and ladders into a famous and funny hallucination. Video is a natural medium for the kind of hide-and-go-seek game-playing Escher’s images evoke. Now if only he would do something about those annoying staircases.
Ntapueu: I Am Telling the Truth Marjorie Beaucage This is a provocative, moving and enlightening video project on the Innu community. The main subject is the impact of the Voisey’s Bay Nickel Company on the land and the Innu themselves. What you see is a remarkable stretch of candid footage unlike anything you’ve seen before, unless you have lived at length in Labrador or are a part of the community itself. This film challenges the received mantra of government: that developed Voisey’s Bay is “good for the province”. Innu defence against development from the inside is presented through this vivid document of how people live, what they think, and how they feel about what they sense is happening to them, not with them. The video was intended to be medicine for many years to come. Spectators: heal thyself.
One Big Banana Satomi Maekawa Consider this brilliant example of digital animation a refreshing commercial for Computer Graphic School. This colorful exercise in three-dimensionality offers an excuse to show off the latest computer hardware. Short, sweet, and as nourishing as potassium, this film trades plasticine for pentium, pointing the way to a new generation of animators.
Loaf Déva Palmier This film inventively imagines how a nice loyal vegan-inclining woman names Francis might get even with her philandering carnivorous partner. They share a cooking show--”Fred and Frances Cook”--but not much happiness. Loaf playfully exhibits Francis’s nutritional way of dealing with her tired situation. As Martha might say at a moment like this: “that’s a good thing”.
Pasta King of the Caribbean Sharon Cavanagh Initially a play that was produced at the LSPU hall in 1995, the script has been brought to the big screen. the film has an intelligent theatrical quality to it that is offset by the persuasive power of the performers and the terrific naturalistic set design. As the wide-eyes Jackie, a woman whose husband is missing in action, Stapleton is full of edge and expectation. As Miles, the annoying brother of the missing ex, Mike Jones is nothing but commanding. We tend to think of Pasta King of the Caribbean as spicy Albee or Pinter. Dialogue is often a way of avoiding the truth, and words can be quite al dente.
The Clearing Kat Smith This is an intelligent and moving short drama about two people thrown reluctantly together through hard knocks and fortuitous coincidence. Just at the moment that a young woman attempts to abandon her unwanted child in a clearing in the woods, an escaped convict appears to witness the scene. Desperate and anxious about the responsibilities from which each of them is running, they bond in a measured cautious way. For such a short amount of screen time, the director manages to convey an entire cycle of a deepening relationship. The careful framing of each shot clearly exploits the trapped environment in which these oddly sympathetic adults dwell.
1/100 Kim Trusty A youthful brio informs this black and white short drama about a young woman and her need to talk, with all of the above set in a subway station. This film works so well not only because of what we see on screen but especially because of all that we don’t see. Consider this film a witty and even haunting study of telecommunications.
Do Nothing Ruba Nadda Nadda’s films are best characterized as open-ended mini-views. insights into the often neglected experience of our daily rounds. Teetering between the dramatic and documentary worlds in which they are set, her works dare to surprise. This film might be seen as what would happen if a twelve-year old girl made an episode of Seinfeld.
When Heat Drifts Through the Afternoon Ruba Nadda The title suggests the beginning of a short story and, indeed, we glean here the beginning of an urban life drama centered on a young Muslim girl. The moody point of view belongs to Fadia, who contemplates the possibilities of being in the world as only a twelve-year old can. On the one hand North American culture beckons with its lines of white powder, hetero desires, frivolous acts of rebellion; on the other Allah hovers like a disapproving presence. Don’t expect resolution. Nadda’s films refuse to foreclose on the world and that's the kind of spectator contract we prefer.
The Fires of Joanna Penny McCann Tracy Wright plays the central commanding role of Johanna McVeigh, an Irish Catholic woman living in depression-era rural Ontario. She harbours a dark secret; an uncanny ability to set fires with her mind. She recognizes the dangerous potential of her intuitive gift, a recognition clearly linked with her first stirrings of desire. the world she inhabits is so repressed, patriarchal,and cloyingly constrained that it’s no wonder such a passionate creature owns the power it engulf it all in flames. Johanna finds comfort in her local cinema, a theatre of dreams and longing. The narrative follows her emerging struggle to reconcile her feelings of desire for the local farmhand. We can assure you that this beautiful fictional document of recent history unfolds deliberately like a slow burn. Stephen King, eat your heart out.
Dans le Parc Avec Toi Julie Hivon This film centres on a young woman’s thoughts as the indolent summer air caresses her skin. marie-Louise and Pierre are just hanging out. he is reading, she is bored, but occasionally distracted by her own thoughts of their future. What works so well here is the totally persuasive drift of moos and rhythms on such a day as this. the more we watch, the more we realize how much information might be conveyed through both silence and the body language of those objects of our attention.
Fish Sarah Shute A beautifully shot short about a familiar subject. California director Sarah Shute catches our attention as gracefully and surprisingly as a man catches--well--you’ll have to see what he catches. To see it is to know it. Enough said. The entry for this film boasted that Shute was not interested in going to film school. Fish demonstrates why she doesn’t need to.
Rain, Drizzle, Fog Canada Rosemary House For reasons mysterious we seem to love a place that, far too often, makes us want to put a bullet through our heads. House pursues the quest of and for local meaning by talking to her friends--Andy Jones, Mary Walsh, Brian Hennessey, Anita Best. Des Walsh, and Ed Riche. You could do a thousand films about this town and they would all be different, and they’d all be the same. But they would all reflect the filmmaker’s personal relationship with the city. House takes us on a guided tour of her St. John’s, a place from which she once longed to escape, a place from where she’d now have to be separated with a crowbar. Ultimately, in spite of bad weather, predictable townie-sim, maddening shabbiness, and insane colonialism, St. John’s triumphs.
The Cora Player Cilia Sawadogo Seven minutes of Romeo & Juliet set in the African country of Burkina Faso. this film animates an old love story by relocating the protagonists to a caste-ridden society while also aiming to revolutionize the old doomed plot, turning it inside out and making it global friendly. Produced for the “Rights of the Heart” collection on behalf of the UN convention on the rights of the child, this film has won special film and TV awards for its dazzling beauty.
One Divided by Two: Kids and Divorce Joyce Borenstein There’s something utterly candid and beautiful about this film that saves it from being Just Another Therapy video. The subject ranges over the emotional turmoil of being a divorced kid. This film focuses on young people from eight to fifteen whose voices speak for the sadness and anger of their plight. The illustrative power of the filmmaker’s technique is simply brilliant. Her sweet renderings always temper the pain of abandonment, and the intelligence of her images relieves the heaviness of so many little tragedies. A profoundly honest treatment of an often trivialized subject, this film yields more than a fraction of interest.
Ethan's Tuesday Amy Dean This is a film about a little boy’s initiation into the world of the feminine. Tuesday is the name of a babelicious ballerina who moves next door to little Ethan, and he might now know a thing about tutus but he knows what he likes. Tuesday, stuck in smallsville Alabama with an 11-year old following her around, schemes to escape her claustrophobic world. As life would have it, she ends up a little less self-absorbed and Ethan acquires some life lessons. Ethan’s Tuesday is yet another university film school entry, reinforcing our view that they don't make undergraduate programs like they used to. Amen to that.
The Week Elvis Died UK Carol Morley Where e you in 1977? Wearing blue suede shoes and shaking your hips? This charming production from way across the pond tracks the misadventures of ten-year old Karen,. isolated and friendless, she finds comfort in tending to her pet rabbit, Elvis. But one day everything changes when Karen has to perform for a well know D.J. Tony Blackburn. Watch for the wonderful clash of kitsch and class in this sensitive British comedy.
The Shooter Alla Baeva This big production tale features an Italian-American boy named Angelo who tried to find his way through the dark labyrinth of social anxiety. Everyone seems to be suffering and hope is a fool’s game. Out of overwhelming shame and sadness, Angelo’s father takes his own life, and his son is challenged to redeem the name of his father. Inspired by a true story The Shooter’s power nonetheless resides in its universal appeal. the struggle f family, pressures of childhood, the menace of assimilation and the demoralizing consequences of poverty--these themes apply no matter where one lives.
Paper Roses Aloura Melissa Charles This is one undergraduate film project that transcended the other entries of its kind; a beautifully crafted short that points to a fundamentally sensuous appreciation of the material world. Jolie is a six-year old deaf girl living in the upper class affluence of her New Orleans neighbourhood. Her mother asks her to pick up a mail package and so Jolie heads out on a twelve minute film journey. Her world may be soundless but it’s certainly rich--that is, eye-stoppingly exquisite in its tender visual beauty. Perhaps it takes a child to show the way.
Desperately Seeking Helen Eisha Marjara This is a debut feature from Eisha Marjara, a talented participant in the NFB’s “Fast Forward” program. Humor and insight best characterize this pseudo-documentary about the filmmaker’s journey to bombay in search of her childhood film idol, Helen. This film is as much about the movies, screens that mirror is and mirrors that can already discern the promise of an amazing and richly textured meditation on the nature of women and identity. You will be exhilarated by the display of talent here, we promise.
Busk Paula Tiberius Where do wanna be rappers go when they’re white and francophone? Why, Toronto, of course. Yeah, “life is hard when you live on Gerrard…” So we have it: a comic short about a guy who won’t take no for an answer. Dubbed a fish-out-of-water comedy, this film contains an element of surprise not the least of which is inspired by the witty play of oppositions, notably black and white. Our personal rap is: “easy to be poor if you shop on Bloor”.
Blindspot Christy Garland A woman accidentally hits another young woman with her car, soon leaving the scene of the accident without acknowledging her responsibility. You might say the film has a literary quality to it; layers of associative images pile up to convey the impression of unavoidable guilt, an all-too-familiar experience. This film doesn’t do much to dispel the myths of bad-driving women, but it sure advances the case of interesting experimental filmmaking.
Cigarette Monique LeBlanc There are many reasons why we like this engaging documentary on the continuing controversy over the tobacco stick. Mainly, we like the was LeBlanc puffs hard at the way social camps have set up on either side of the smoking issue: those representing smokers rights versus those who would ban the weed and its smelly emissions altogether. this film explores not only the range of attitudes attending to the cigarette, but also the whole spectrum of political, moral, and philosophical implications of the gratifyingly dirty habit. You’ll be delighted at the way the film is structured. Cigarette informs by appreciation and sympathy, a refreshing alternative to so much tedious moralizing.
Peep Show Documentary Rhonda Buckley, Justin Hall, Janis Spence This doc adds a whole other dimension to the peeping activity of watching movies, as the camera insists on looking at the lookers. Women are always being observed for all kinds of reasons, but peeping is something else. This doc explores the women who did the exploring for the Sound Symposium special art exhibition., a tour de force of notable women’s expressions of being looked at. This film provides and edgy and spirited approach that is at once youthful and inquisitive.
Knitwits Candy Kugel This is a colorfully animated indulgence featuring such familiar voices as the irrepressible Joan Rivers who gossips here with her usual catty brio. A groups of friends seek solace from week’s domestic and work-a-day demands in a NY knitting store. the whole rainbow coalition drops in, not to mention the usual yentas and whiners. Knitwits is their caught conversation.
High Art USA Lisa Cholodenko The title of this notable feature plays on the various frames in which this story is told: glamour photo-journalism, drugs, the NY art scene, the trendy appeal of lesbianism, you name it. This film is a cleverly shot, appropriately enough, as a textured grainy photograph. Lost of hi-concept and feminist malaise here. Warning: leave your kids at home. This film features great sex, lots of drugs, and some language even the kids on South Park might not dare speak.
Wink Frances McDermid This film turns it lens on a young woman’s coming of age. Ther difference between this film and others like it is that Wink dares to remint the tired cliches of the genre, yielding a fresh approach to the story. Ann is a pretty 14-year old who endures the familiar adolescent position of the outsider. For reasons vaguely connected to her difference, she is condemned to a life on the margins of the in-crowd, taunted by other young women whose social behaviour would endear them to an Ayatollah. In the middle o f this emotional muddle we call growing up, Ann meets Chloe, a confident and attractive alter ego with admirable bravado. Ann finds comfort in Chloe’s vital personality, but she is also vaguely threatened by her own desire. The rest of this short film is not climax and denouement so muchas slow awakening, as subtle as a smooth gear shift. Drive, she said.
Transmission Ivan E. Coyote This film goes where no film of it’s time had ever gone before: to the wild and wackily ambiguous world of gender crossovers. Remember when you could tell a boy by his Y chromosome and the pistol in his pocket? And a girl by her ability to take shorthand, bake shortbread, and shorten her hemlines? Nwell. that was then and this is now. Today you need a program to tell the difference, and even then you probably still need an upright toilet seat to figure out who’s what. This film is short and provocative. Perhaps this trend will eventually eliminate the need to date. Whatever.
It Happened in the Stacks Hope Thompson Thompson draws on the already sexualized tableaux of forties film noir, where same-sex desire always seems to be lurking beneath the smoulter of hetero-smoke. Ostensibly a story about one woman’s struggle to help a client find a reference, this short witty film puts the congress right back in the library.
Chaahath Lily Gupta How to represent female desire? Chaatah actually means desire, so that’s a start. Well, in four minutes we experience the sinewy movements of a feminine presence. When that presence is North Indian, the likelihood of transforming word into action is more than likely. Warning: you might feel very white and repressed after seeing this film.
Elling Lien