Sunday, April 1, 2012

Images Festival 2012 (April 12-21)


“Here’s to you! Keep up the good work!” so says Jonas Mekas, from the Anthology Film Archives in New York, to the Images Festival in their new program guide. This cheer and delight seems like the general attitude felt towards Images, especially now since they are celebrating their 25th anniversary and that their program is consistently great, as it engages with the most contemporary avant-garde and activist work. The festival includes Images On Screen, so film and video. There are Images Off Screen which consists of installations at galleries spread out across the city. There are Live Images which embraces different performance traditions that are related to the moving images. There is going to be a Mediatheque and bookstore at Urbanscape Gallery and their festival space will be at 204 Spadina Avenue. As well there is going to be an online archive of Canadian video art set up at the iFpod section of their website, which sounds interesting (but whose url imagesfestival.com/ifpod isn’t up and running, yet).

Some other things that's good about Images includes, as Scott Miller Berry mentions in his welcome, that the festival has generous programming fees to artists, and that it takes a stand against the reigning festival “premiere policies”. The program guide also has a great essay Expanding Moving Pictures by Andrew “Andy” James Paterson, who has been attending the festival since it’s inception in 1988 (and who also, which I recently discovered, plays an angry journalist in John Greyson's Zero Patience), on the history and development of the festival. Some interesting comments from it include how Images grew out of the New Works Video Show (84-86) and Paterson seems very interested in the labels the festival has used to identify itself as it evolved, and how the festival grew and expanded over time, alternating venues, programmers and Artistic Directors.

To only scratch the surface of the rich work being programmed, I have compiled a list of work that I think will be well worth attending:

Talk To The Pie (Urbanspace Gallery):
- Defining Cinema Space (Friday, April 13, 3PM), Eric Veillette discuss what exactly constitutes a cinema. As well Veillette will also have an exhibition Toronto: Cinema City at the Images Hub on the history of the different movie theaters and repertories in this city.
- People and Places (Tuesday April 17, 3PM), Antoine Bourges, Lina Rodriguez and Myrium Yates discuss their filmmaking, the people they've met and the places they've been.
On Screen + Live Images:
- Marielle Nitoslawska’s documentary Breaking the Frame on the avant-garde artist Carolle Schneemann. Wednesday April 4, 7PM. The Royal Cinema.
- Lewis Klahr’s pop art dreamscape The Pettifogger. Wednesday April 11, 7PM. In collaboration with The Free Screen at the TIFF.Bell Lightbox.
- John Akomfrah’s The Nine Muses, which uses Homer’s Odyssey as a point of departure to explore the journey of Caribbean and African migrants of the 50s and 60s. Thursday April 12, 6:45pm. The Royal Cinema.
- Images 25th Anniversary 1998 Screening Part 1, which consists of Richard Kerr’s Last Days of Contrition, Jan Peacock’s Sirensong, and Frances Leeming’s Orientation Express. I am especially curious about Peacock’s Sirensong, after recently discovering her work at The Free Screen program Using Clouds for Words. Peacock in therethere is great at catching figures on a journey and creating a captivating motion in the changing background. While in Reader by the Window the malleable distortions of the landscape are a pleasure to behold. And the two of them seem to be fore-runners for what Blake Williams seems to be doing in his Coorow-Latham Road. Friday April 13, 8PM. Jackman Hall.
- Images 25th Anniversary 1988 Screening Part 2, which includes Marc Glassman presenting Vera Frenkel’s Censored:The Business of Frightened Desires (or the Making of a Pornographer). Thursday April 19, 9PM, Images at 204.
- The program Right Ascension, which is recent film and video from Toronto, curated by Selena Lee and Carly Whitefield, looks good, which includes Blake Williams' Depart, a transition work from his early performance based videos that also anticipates his digital road-trip masterwork Coorow-Latham Road; Clint Enns’ Connecting with Nature and Chris Kennedy’s Towards a Vanishing Point. Saturday April 14, 9:30PM. Jackman Hall.
- Ben Rivers, whose previous work is the meditative and lyrical Slow Action, returns with Two Years at Sea. Sunday April 15th, 9PM. Jackman Hall.
- The program A Place in the World is described as “These four films all reflect on distinct structures and environments drawing out qualities of space, time, architecture and weather.” In it Antoine Bourges (Woman Waiting) will have the Canadian premiere of his first medium-length film East Hastings Pharmacy which documents the routines between the pharmacists and clients of a methadone clinic in Vancouver’s Downtown East Side. Expect a longer review here on East Hasting Pharmacy closer to the screening date. Monday April 16, 7PM. Jackman Hall.
- James Benning’s look at Thoreau’s cabins and ideas in Two Cabins which is going to be in the program Two Movies, along with a piece by Elke Marhofer. Tuesday April 17, 9PM. Jackman Hall.
- Keren Cytter’s performance I Eat Pickles At Your Funeral (whose work is also showing at the Oakville Galleries). Thursday April 19, 7PM. Al Green Theatre.
- In the program Sidewalk Stories there are two shorts that look promising: Lina Rodriguez 75 seconds Protocol, a glimpse of a fortress wall in Cartagena, Columbia; and Kevin Jerome Everson’s Century which is a video of automobiles being destroyed that kind-of sounds like Gordon Matta-Clark’s Fresh Kill. Friday April 20, 9PM. Jackman Hall.
- Lav Diaz’s 360 minutes Florentina Hubaldo, CTE, which is a Philippine Dickensian portrait of poverty and suffering rooted in colonial trauma, which makes a great accompaniment to last year’s Vapor Trail (Clark) by John Gianvito.
- Yo La Tengo scoring an early silent film by Jean Painlevé of Jellyfishes and seahorses. Mantler will have an opening performance. Saturday April 21, 8PM. Toronto Underground Cinema.
All of the Off Screen works looks interesting but to only mention a few of them briefly there is Annie MacDonell’s The Fortune Teller (AGO), Deborah Stratman’s Tactital Uses of a Belief in the Unseen (2) (Mercer Union), Twinning Cities: AVALON (Bangalore and Toronto) (OCAD U), Kerry Tribe: Speak, Memory (The Power Plant), Gary Kibbins’s Girl Sitting on Blue Chair and Cop Out and A Short History of Water (Trinity Square Video), and Joshua Bonnetta’s Strange Lines and Distances (YYZ).

Tickets can be purchased online at imagesfestival.com or at the appropriate venue starting one hour before the event. Cheaper tickets for members.

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