FROM THE FARM
Alchemy Film and Moving Image Festival, April 2017
Run time: 73 minutes. 13 films screened on 16mm and as HD transfers
Premieres include world, European, Scottish
Curated by Sarah Bliss
From the Farm shines a spotlight on the signal work of the Independent Imaging Retreat (aka Film Farm), founded 23 years ago by Canadian experimental filmmakers Phil Hoffman and Marion McMahon in rural Canada, two hours NW of Toronto. Film Farm is a remarkable annual weeklong production residency in handmade experimental filmmaking. It brings together a small group of filmmakers each summer to create films from scratch by hand. The group sleeps, eats, works and plays together in community centered in Phil’s cathedral of a barn.
Film Farm is grounded in a feminist pedagogy that prioritizes accessibility, presence, the body, and relationship – to self, others, and place. At Film Farm, these core values support a praxis of risk, experimentation, openness and play, and they are transformative - not only in terms of the work produced, but in ways of being that have far-reaching repercussions. The Farm has deeply influenced the work of both Canadian and international independent filmmakers and has dramatically influenced the re-imagining and implementation of artist-centered models for the teaching and production of film.
Film Farm is a utopian community, but it has been enacted, and I’m convinced that it holds a key to the Big Question of how we move forward in a political and cultural climate that has vociferously and aggressively rejected belief in a public good, a shared commons, and a commitment to the hard work of risking authentic dialogue with the other.
I am deeply heartened and inspired by all that Film Farm stands for and embodies, by the vision Phil and his staff hold of who we can be as filmmakers -- for and with ourselves, and for and with each other -- and how we can use our filmmaking to try on and try out what it means to take risks across the unknown. That is how we make a new world.
The films in this program span Film Farm’s history, celebrating and demonstrating the range of work emerging from the Barn. Most were shot on 16mm HiCon (Kodak 3378 film stock) - the Farm’s go-to stock. Others work with found or appropriated footage, or collaged film sources. They highlight processes and techniques such as optical and contact printing, the use of direct sound, tinting and toning, and handpainting.
The program demonstrates risktaking and experimentation over a broad range of genres, approaches and subjects including: personal docs that plumb memory, place and family such as Penny McCann’s Lot 22, Concession 5, or Karyn Sandlos’ exploration of relationality and the power imbalance between a filmmaker and her subjects in Passing Through; provocative confrontations with sexuality, gender, and the gaze (Deirdre Logue’s unsettling performance for camera, Scratch, and Mäia Cybelle Carpenter’s gorgeous and darkly moody challenge to the male heterosexual gaze, The Shape of the Gaze); lyrical storytelling (Helen Hill’s delightfully exuberant embrace of connection with place, flora and fauna Your New Pig is Down the Road); incisive social commentaries that enact material violence on the film itself in order to subvert and challenge cultural norms of violence in professional sports (Brett Kashmere’s Ghosts of Empire and Matt Soar’s Bull Fought); and pure materialist structural play (Clint Enns’ A Day in the Shint). Other films engage the history and nature of film as a direct route to the unconscious and sexuality (Pouyan Jafarizadeh Dezfoulian’s dreamlike meditation on birth, death, sex, and violence I Came for the Wedding; and John Greyson’s startlingly risqué upending and restaging of Genet’s Chants D’Amour in his remarkable Captifs D’Amour.) Chris Chan Fui Chong’s Minus and Lillah Halla’s Holy Holes are two very nontraditional and minimalist “dance films", and David Gatten’s classic and richly textured HARDWOOD PROCESS is the ultimate paean to the forever captivating dance of meaning-making.
1. Brett Kashmere. Ghosts of Empire. 4:30. 16mm transferred to HD. B&W. sound. 20
Ghost-poem and/or draft sketch for football horror film. Source footage is from a 1967 National Football League Films production titled They Call it Pro Football, which is a kind of ur-text of the NFL. NFL Films was Kodak's biggest customer over the past 50 years and just ended its use of 16mm film a couple of years ago. Film Farm 2015.
Brett Kashmere is a Canadian-born filmmaker living in Oakland, USA. Combining archival research with materialist aesthetics and hybrid forms, Kashmere’s work explores the intersection of history and (counter-) memory, sports, and popular culture. His films and videos have been exhibited internationally at festivals, museums, and microcinemas. Kashmere is currently a PhD student in Film + Digital Media at University of California, Santa Cruz. He is also the founding editor of INCITE: Journal of Experimental Media.
2. Pouyan Jafarizadeh Dezfoulian. I Came For the Wedding. 8:32. 16mm transferred to HD. b&w, sound. 2009.
This found footage film dives beneath the surface of the films it accesses (including Blood of the Beasts by George Franju and In the Year of the Pig by Emile de Antonio) to portray a transcendental world of agony and ecstasy. Music by Alex Unger. Film Farm 2009.
Born in Iran in 1980, Pouyan Jafarizadeh Dezfoulian has lived in Canada since 1995. He has studied Philosophy, Religion and Film. He has been working as an experimental filmmaker in Toronto for the past several years. He has won several awards for his haunting and beautiful film Morning Will Come, (2008) which played at the Los Angeles and Montreal film festivals and won the audience vote for the VTape Award at the 2009 Images Festival in Toronto and best experimental film at Cinesiege (2008). Pouyan is received currently completing his MFA in Film Production at York University.
3. Deirdre Logue. Scratch. 3:00. 16mm, sound, colour. 1998. Canada.
Scratch conveys the filmmaker’s physical insertion into nature, only this time the experience is not sensual release, rather it is a sadomasochistic and painful journey. Her body is treated like a piece of emulsion -- processed, manipulated, scratched, cut to fit. Scratch is one of ten hand-processed performance-based works about childhood anxieties that make up Logue’s Enlightened Nonsense (1997-2000). Film Farm 1998.
Canadian artist Deirdre Logue’s compelling self-portraits investigate what it means to be a queer body in the age of anxiety, utilizing performance for the camera and self as subject. Logue has produced over 60 short films, videos and multi-channel art installations. She was a founding member of Media City, the Executive Director of the Images Festival, Executive Director of the CFMDC, and is currently Development Director at Vtape. Logue also directs F.A.G. Feminist Art Gallery with artist Allyson Mitchell.
4. Chris Chan Fui Chong. Minus. 3:00 / 16mm. sound, b/w. 1999. Canada
Minus is a hand-processed, uncut, singular stream of movements. To take away: either to leave remnants of light or to leave remnants of rhythms. Entirely hand-processed and unscathed by the blades of the splicer. This is Chong’s first 16mm film. Inspired by Ritchie Hawkin’s Concept albums. Film Farm 1999.
Christopher Chong Chan Fui is a Malaysian/Canadian filmmaker. He has written and directed a number of short films including Tuesday Be My Friend(2005) and has worked in film, television and animation production. Christopher’s career began in Canada where he directed a number of experimental hand-processed films and began screening his work in over 20 festivals on the global circuit. He was awarded Best Emerging Filmmaker in Toronto in 2001. His first feature, Karaoke, premiered at the 2009 Cannes Directors’ Fortnight and was awarded the Maverick Prize at the 2009 Calgary International Film Festival, Canada.
5. Karyn Sandlos. Passing Through. 12:00. 16mm transfer to SD.
Passing Through is haunted by a song about love and marriage that can't be fully recalled - or completely forgotten. In this beautifully hand-processed film nothing seems to fit properly. The streets of a small, Ontario town become associative paths for memory when desire stretches the seams of expectation. Film Farm 1998.
Karyn Sandlos is a filmmaker, curator, writer and a PhD candidate in the Faculty of Education at York University in Toronto. She is co-editor (with Mike Hoolboom) of the volume of writing "First-Person Cinema and the Films of Philip Hoffman" (2001). Karyn is also Chair of the Board of Directors of the Images Festival of Independent Film and Video.
6. Your New Pig is Down the Road. 4:49. 16mm, sound. 2000. Canada.
A cinematic love letter to Hill's husband Paul Gailiunas. Hill beckons Paul Gailiunas to follow her down the road where Paul’s new pig waits. The film features their much loved daisies, their much respected Saint Francis, and their baby pig Daisy. After they were married, Paul Gailiunas and Helen Hill kept a pot bellied pig in New Orleans which they named Rosie.
Helen Hill (1970 – 2007) was an American animation filmmaker and social activist who lived in New Orleans, Louisiana. She began creating short animated films at age eleven. She taught film animation at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design (now NSCAD University), the Atlantic Filmmakers Cooperative (AFCOOP), the New Orleans Video Access Center (NOVAC) and the New Orleans Film Collective, which she co-founded. Her film Scratch and Crow (1995) was named by the Library of Congress to the National Film Registry, a list of aesthetically, historically, and culturally significant American motion pictures.
7. Lillah Halla. Holy Holes. 2:53. 2012 (DV, SD.) Music by Joana Brito.
The slots and knotholes of the barn are `played’ like a piano keyboard, in this lyrical celebration of form and texture. The music of the film bends and stretches, following the imperfections of the weatherbeaten barn boards.
Lillah Halla is a Brazilian filmmaker graduated from the International Film School EICTV in Cuba. She’s part of the film Collective Vermelha (female filmmakers in Brazil) and Ensayo de Orquesta (Latin American filmmakers). Lillah lives and works between Berlin and São Paulo.
8. Maïa Cybelle Carpenter. The Shape of the Gaze. 16mm, color, silent, USA/Canada, 2000.
Optically printed, hand processed and painted: the film process is manipulated to disrupt viewing expectations on a textual and aesthetic level. This repositions the subject and discourse of gender ambiguity available in the gaze. By shifting the discourse of the gaze, the film implicates viewers in the gazes operating between the filmmaker and her self-identified lesbian butch subjects. Film Farm 2000.
Maïa Cybelle Carpenter is a moving-image artist, curator and professional Executive Assistant. She joined the Board of Canyon Cinema in 2006 and is currently the President of the Board. Her films and videos have been exhibited internationally including Ars Electronica, Rotterdam International Film Festival, Anthology Film Archives, The British Film Institute, and PBS Television. She has served as a visiting curator for the Pleasure Dome in Toronto, was Programming Coordinator for MIX NYC at Anthology Film Archives, and a curator for SF Cinematheque. She has a BA in Women’s Studies/Film Theory from Barnard College, Columbia University and an MFA in Film from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She has been on the Advisory Board of Lunafest since 2005.
9. John Greyson. Captifs D’Amour. 6:00. 16mm to DV. sound. 2010.
Captifs D'Amour is a short karaoke splitscreen riff on Genet's famous avant-garde classic Chant D'Amour, this time featuring naked gay penguins.Film Farm 2009.
John Greyson is a filmmaker, video artist, writer, activist and educator whose productions have won accolades at festivals throughout the world. Heis recipient of the 2000 Toronto Arts Award for film/video and the 2007 Bell Award in Video Art. His publications include Urinal and Other Stories (Power Plant/Art Metropole) and he is co-editor of Queer Looks, a critical anthology of gay/lesbian media theory (Routledge). He teaches film and video theory at York University.
10. Matt Soar. Bull Fought. 1:40. 16mm, silent, color. 2011.
Bull Fought has its origins in a Super 8 vacation movie found in a Montreal thrift store. Soar’s direct animation counters the traditional narrative of the Spanish bullfight celebrated in the original footage, inverting winner and loser. Film Farm 2011.
Matt Soar is an intermedia artist inclined to cameraless filmmaking techniques. He teaches at Concordia University in Montreal. His ongoing project Lost Leadersexplores film leaders as historical artifacts, analog metadata, and found footage.
11. Penny McCann. Lot 22, Concession 5. 3:57. 16mm transfer to DV. Sound, color. 2009. Canada.
Hand-processed 16mm film imagery, tinted, toned, and transformed, is combined with memory fragments of a rural past, to create a poetic narrative about place and time. Experimental sound design by Edmund Eagan and featuring the voice of McCann’s father, who passed away in 1992. The title, Lot 22, Concession 5, refers to the lot and concession number of McCann’s great-grandfather's farm in Westport, Ontario, as recorded in the 1911 census. Film Farm 2008.
Penny McCann's body of work spans more than twenty-five years and encompasses both dramatic and experimental films and videos. Her work has been exhibited extensively at festivals and galleries nationally and internationally, including the Centre national d’art contemporain (France), the Hamburg Short Film Festival (Germany), the Molodist Kiev International Film Festival (Ukraine) and in Canada, at the Images Festival (Toronto), the Canadian Film Institute (Ottawa), and the Cinémathéque Québecoise (Montreal). Penny’s media artwork is distributed through CFMDC and Vtape in Toronto.
12. David Gatten. HARDWOOD PROCESS. 14:00. 16mm, silent, color. 1996.
A history of scarred surfaces, an inquiry, and an imagining. For the marks we see and the marks we make, for the languages we can read and for those we are trying to learn. Reproduced by hand on an old contact printer resulting in individual, unique release prints. Film Farm 1996.>
David Gatten explores the intersection of the printed word and moving image. His work illuminates a wide array of historical, conceptual and material concerns, while cataloging the variety of ways in which texts function in cinema as both language and image, often blurring the boundary between these categories. Using traditional research methods (reading old books) and non-traditional film processes (boiling old books) his films trace the contours of private lives and public histories, combining philosophy, biography and poetry with experiments in cinematic forms and narrative structures. His work resides in the permanent collections of the British Film Institute, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Austrian Film Museum, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Cinémathèque Française, the Scottish Poetry Library and the Harvard Film Archive, as well as in numerous public and private collections.
13. Clint Enns. A Day in the Shint. 1:34. 16mm, sound, b&w. 2013.
A film made at the 2013 Film Farm using the '09 shint.
Clint Enns is a visual artist living in Toronto, Ontario. His work primarily deals with moving images created with broken and/or outdated technologies. His work has shown both nationally and internationally at festivals, alternative spaces and microcinemas. He has a Master’s degree in mathematics from the University of Manitoba, and has recently received a Master’s degree in cinema and media from York University where he is currently pursuing a PhD. His writings and interviews have appeared in Leonardo, Millennium Film Journal, Incite! Journal of Experimental Media and Spectacular Optical.