Contemporary Moving Image Culture, On Screen
When I first opened the preview package for the Images Festival, compiling some sort 'best bets' list for blogTO seemed like a daunting task.
Forty or fifty films later, I have a new appreciation for experimental filmmaking - and some screening highlights from the 22nd edition of Toronto's premiere contemporary moving images festival.
But if you're under 18, look for something else to do this weekend. Images Festival organizers are restricting younger audiences to comply with Ontario's Film Classification Act. "Images does not agree with censorship in any form," notes Scott Miller Berry, Images Executive Director. "In Ontario, public film and video screenings are the only forms of artistic expression that are forced to restrict audiences due to the provincial rating system."
"Even though the rating system was setup for commercial feature films," Berry explains, "all public presentations of film and video must be restricted to 18 years of age or older or you must pay the Ontario Film Review Board a fee for them to review and rate the films. The programmers (in this case Images) can make intelligent decisions about what is suitable for adults and/or youth. We resent that as a result of this law, the festival LIMITS our audiences by not being able to let younger folks in to see our films, 99% of which are perfectly fine for audiences of all ages!"
In this year's lineup, the film most likely to have gotten an 'adults only' rating comes from one of Canada's preeminent filmmakers, Guy Maddin. His Glorious was commissioned, with four other works, for tonight's festival opener Notes on Composing: 5 Collaborations in Film and Music, a "live images" presentation accompanied by an orchestral ensemble. Also in this series, Christina Battle's Behind the Shadows has some great visuals.
The festival includes nine "on screen" programs, all pay what you can. I liked the second, And to Perfection All Our Efforts We Devote - with Akram Zaatari's Nature Morte from Lebanon, where two men sit in a room and one is making explosives, and Deborah Stratman's O'er the Land, full of military and Americana imagery.
Other highlights I'd like to point out include John Smith's Hotel Diaries, On Screen Program 8. From shortly after 9/11 until 2007, when he had enough material for a feature, John Smith points his camera around hotel rooms while recording his personal feelings and thoughts about conflicts in the Middle East. The diary concept seemed too simple at first, but I quickly became absorbed in the British filmmaker's monologues. I Want to Wrestle with Your Mind in the Long Grass, On Screen Program 7, has a strong start with a computer-generated guy reciting ads from Craigslist in Men Seeking Women and a romantic triangle involving three versions of the same guy in Close Encounter, but I could have done without the rest.
Finally, for anyone new to the festival, Scott Miller Berry highly recommends the world premiere of Toronto filmmaker Amy Bodman's new documentary The Limits of What We Know, On Screen Program 4. The film was shot in 1993 in Zimbabwe and Bodman has been working on it for the past 15 years. (see trailer below)
The Images Festival runs from April 2nd to 11th with screenings, installations, and performances at various venues. Tickets available online or at the door, some events are PWYC. Still from O'er the Land/ Deborah Stratman.
The Limits of What We Know trailer: