Great to make some of the DOXA films this weekend. Particularly relevant were Talking Landscape, a retrospective of Andrea Callard’s work http://andreacallard.blogspot.ca/p/moving-pictures.html and Backbone, a documentary by Richard Martin about Vancouver’s experimental film scene from 1967-81.
I didn’t know Callard’s work. Her performance/film experiments of the early 70s are very funny, moving and gripping. The anxious suspense of watching a close-up of her feet as she struggles to wriggle into a pair of rubber flip flops is intense. Or watching her climb up and down and across ladders precariously arranged in her loft. There’s a playfulness to her approach that is really engaging. Despite/because of the lightness, she was also one of the key players in the late 70s/early 80s NY loft shows. In Colab she was part of the group that installed The Time Square Show, which included works by people like Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat. She’s now making films about landfills and recycling.
Backbone http://www.backbonefilm.ca/ was in some ways a documentary film version of a lot of the material on the really tremendous Vancouver Art in the Sixties website http://vancouverartinthesixties.com/#header or in Michael de Courcy’s comprehensive archives http://www.michaeldecourcy.com/. Richard Martin has made a nice doc. Interesting gaps. Women? Indigenous filmmakers? What about the 1920s film experiments and what access did the Vancouver experimenters have to these? Would have liked to see more on the role of Cineworks and Video Inn. Martin is, himself, a significant experimental filmmaker http://movingimages.ca/store/filmmakers.php?fmk=411 so am thinking that the straightforward doc style is his attempt to get this important history out to a wider audience and for the film to serve education. And for me, always interesting on a purely personal level to see these images of the city when I was a baby, given my mother’s stories about her own experience of the 1950s Beat scene (she was married to artist Frank Lewis at the time) and her unrealised dreams of running away to join one of the 60’s communes.