Thursday, January 26, 2017

Don Owen's Ibiza Documentary

So the big news in Canadian cinema these days is that apparently in the Don Owen archives there is a print - the only one - of the rough cut of his Ibiza party documentary Graham Coughtry in Ibiza (1971), which was never broadcasted. All Don Owen films should be made accessible and this one in particular seems like it could be one of his craziest - even wilder than Cowboy and Indian (1972) - as he, his friend and crew just live life to the fullest and have fun in Ibiza. For an example of one of his artist portraits see his Michael Snow documentary in the same series. 

I’m sure Graham Coughtry in Ibiza would be another perspective of the artist self-portrait and full of his regular improvisations and candor. Perhaps even it would prove to anticipate Pavan Moondi’s upcoming Sundowners?  

Part of the CBC Telescope series, Graham Coughtry in Ibiza is just one of many other Owen films that are not readily available. A list that includes Monique Leyrac in Concert (1966), Richler of St. Urbain (1970), Changes (1971), Holstein (1979), Partners (1976) and Turnabout (1987). Why does it have to be so hard to see these older images and films that are so vital to the history of Canada and its life and cinema?

The following are two extracts about Graham Coughtry in Ibiza from Steve Gravestock's study of the filmmaker and Owen’s own memoir, Captain Donald’s Quest for Crazy Wisdom. – D.D.
“After Gallery, Owen retired to the countryside for a few years in order to care for his children while his wife then traveled. The CBC then recruited Owen to shoot portraits of three artists in several countries; all were made over a period of three months for Telescope, the series for which he shot Monique Leyrac in Concert. (It opened with the memorable line, “Now it’s time to be entertained and informed with Telescope.”) Similar to the style of the Unit B work of the fifties and sixties – in other words, unscripted and candid – the films are quite straightforward artists’ portrait. Two of the projects – Richler of St. Urbain Street (1970) and Snow in Venice (1970) – were telecast. The third, Coughtry in Ibiza (a portrait of Owen’s longtime friend, the painter Graham Coughtry), was reportedly very impressionistic. It was rejected by the CBC and never completed.” (Gravestock, Pg. 86)

 Ibiza: Graham Coughtry. Things had already gotten quite out of hand with the crew, and then we had to go to Ibiza, the capital of marijuana, to film the Canadian artist Graham Coughtry. He lived in a beautiful house in a small town called Santa Eulalia. Coughtry himself was also a dopester, which didn’t make it any easier to get things organized. Graham was already an old friend of mine, a very sympathetic character. He too was part of the art scene in Toronto and played trombone in the Artists’ Jazz Band along with Mike Snow. Predictably, the footage we took on Ibiza was pretty much useless, and the film never progressed beyond a rough cut.” (Owen, Pg. 75)

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