Images Festival: Day 2 Report

A quarter of century later and the influences of Godfrey Reggio's monumental film essay Koyaanisqatsi are still felt. A good portion of the nine shorts in The International Shorts I program entitled "We're Building Our Own Nature..." have a lot of the visual similarities and stylistic approaches set out and hugely popularized by Reggio: the use of wide scenic tableaus and economical editing, all in the conveyance of socio-environmental concerns.

My highlights from the program include: Urban Surface by Gabriel Lester, a lush monochromatic series of nocturnal cityscape shots that are intermittingly punctuated by a noir-ish score (it reminded me a lot of some of the shots in Woody Allen's Manhattan); Aquarium by Pawel Wojtasik, a contemplative underwater mood piece that was arrestingly eerie and unusual; Portrait #2: Trojan by Vanessa Renwick, a filmic farewell to a decommissioned nuclear power plant with a very satisfying payoff.

Unfortunately, the selections for the International Shorts II program entitled "From Looking to Telling" were, for the most part, not as interesting. The sole gem in the lot is Valery's Ankle by Brett Kashmere, a meticulously constructed documentary that looks at Hockey violence as a calmly angry and plaintive comment on Canadian identity. The centerpiece is Bobby Clarke's vicious slash to Russian player Valery Kharlamov at the 1972 Canadian-Russian Summit Series, which sets the dominoes falling as we watch -- while gasping and squirming in our seats -- one gruesome brutality after another; not before quickly realizing that we Canadians are a passive aggressive bunch with a lot of blood thirst.

Valery's Ankle was a curious selection from Images. Because although it had momentary flashes of abstraction, it was on the whole rather conventional -- but by no means taking away from it -- and would have been a fitting entry in something like the Hot Docs Festival. Nonetheless, I do sense a kind of shift in Images this year... but... I'll save my thoughts for now and let them unfold throughout my coverage.


Here are the most recent ifpod videos:

Lisa Steele
Canada 1972 Video 6 min

Electronic Sunset #25
Jane Wright
Canada 1974 Video 4 min

(Photos: Images Festival)

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