My husband, and I had a date-night planned Friday night. It was a blustery, stormy, -30 C night in the Edmonton area, but we ventured out anyway because we wanted to check out a screening of “Canadiana: Visions of the Country by Independent Filmmakers” at the newly-renovated Art Gallery of Alberta.
Ranging from 2 minutes to 16 minutes in length, the 10 films used experimental and unusual techniques. The first, called “Tran Scan“, was one of our favourites. The filmmakers drove the Trans-Canada highway from West to East (screeching to a halt at the ocean on PEI!), taking thousands and thousands of still images from specially designed telescopic cameras on their vehicle. They combined those images into 112 stunning scenes of classic Canadiana. The images flipped past at breathtaking speed, but seeing familiar landscapes and spotting road signs we’ve passed on our travels made this film really intriguing.
We also enjoyed the story of Regina, told in Bryan Stockton’s autobiographical short film, “Saskatchewan: Part 2“. I’d like to know where he found the classic 1960′s era living room, and the city’s PR jingle “That’s My Wonderful Town” was looping through my head as I fell asleep that night!
I must admit, that I didn’t always “get” the filmmakers message – I am most certainly not a film buff, nor do I have a clue what constitutes great experimental filmography. I did, however, appreciate the passionate eye it must take to tackle an independent film project. In one case, the filmmakers returned to rudimentary technology and shot with a four-perforation camera system, similar to what was used in 1896. For their 2006 film, “View of the Falls from the Canadian Side“, they presented a silent tribute to the majesty of Niagara Falls, and the not-so-majestic tourists who flock there. That takes a certain dedication to your art that is enviable.
The last short film struck a cord with me, and will with many Canadians – Amanda Dawn Christie’s piece “v=d/t” explored the effect of time zones on relationships and conversations, something I am all too familiar with since we live several provinces away from the majority of our family. The visual imagery was simple, featuring classic rotary phones in mid-century homes, but the soundtrack was contemporary and tragic as family and friends attempted to contact each other across a 4 hour time difference, and entire scenarios are played out over voice mail.
This set of 10 films definitely left us with lots to think about, and we had a great discussion over a late dinner. If you get a chance to check it out, I’d recommend Canadiana: Visions of the Country by Independent Filmmakers. If only so that you could maybe help me understand the one about Rocket Richard!
That’s what we did this weekend – did you do anything over the last few days that made you think a little differently about the world, or Canada in particular? Any Canadian films or books you’d like to recommend that lend a different perspective on this great land of ours?
Stay warm, and keep your stick on the ice ;)