Oct 4, 2018
A Few Words from WFG Executive Director Greg Klymkiw
October 4, 2018
Winnipeg filmmakers are extremely well represented this year at one of the most important film festivals in the world. Founded 47 years ago by the visionary Claude Chamberlan and Dimitri Eipides, the Festival du nouveau cinema (FNC) in Montreal has launched the work of such filmmakers as Wim Wenders, Jim Jarmusch, Jane Campion, Lea Pool, Alfonso Cuaron, Denis Villeneuve, Wong Kar-Wai, Atom Egoyan, the Winnipeg Film Group’s (WFG) very own Guy Maddin and many, many others. This year, I count seven Winnipeg filmmakers with films in the 2018 edition of FNC. Two Winnipeg feature films being unveiled are:
WFG’s Senior Cinematheque Programmer Dave Barber (Will the Real Dave Barber Please Stand Up) and Kevin Nikkel (On the Trail of the Far Fur Country) launch their brilliant, entertaining and exhaustive feature length documentary Tales from the Winnipeg Film Group. Not only is the movie replete with recollections from Winnipeg filmmakers, but it features plenty of interviews with film critics, festival programmers, film directors and historically significant players in the Canadian movie industry and media arts world. And, of course, the movie is stuffed like a succulent Thanksgiving turkey with choice clips from classic and contemporary WFG films. One of the fascinating elements for me is how it provides a compelling history of a legendary non-profit media arts organization – from its beginnings and right up to the present. This makes it an invaluable and important work – not just in terms of the WFG’s history, but how such organizations begin, develop and thrive over a period of decades.
Mike Maryniuk will be presenting the North American premiere of his feature film THE GOOSE, the wildly imaginative and funny kaleidoscope of madness charting the “Pilgrim’s Progress” of a young man in small-town Manitoba who wanders through the prairie landscape mutely as he encounters a bevy of delightful nutbars. Blending gorgeously composed images, animation, eye-popping design and some of the most eccentric performances committed to film, I was especially enamoured with two of the creepiest, funniest party scenes I’ve had the pleasure to witness in recent memory – a backyard barbecue party that easily matches WFG veteran John Paizs’s classic Springtime in Greenland and a “snowbirds” celebration that makes one wish that all snowbirds from Winnipeg’s wintry wasteland would simply go away and not come back. The FNC catalogue describes the film’s esthetic as “pure punk”. I can’t, in any way, shape or form disagree with that astute assessment.
And what film festival worth its salt doesn’t have a solid collection of short films? FNC is no slouch in this department and there are five – count ‘em – five short films by Winnipeggers (or former ‘Peggers).
TRIGGER WARNING by Scott Fitzpatrick, winner of this year’s WFG Manitoba Film Hothouse Award, is extremely chilling. The first time I saw it, the film, as it unfurled, was super-creepy, but once it got to its shocking conclusion and revealed what exactly we were being “treated” to, I felt like I’d received a two-by-four to the solar plexus.
GENIZAH; PASSAGES FROM THE LUBLIN BOOK GRAVEYARD by former Winnipegger (and one of the founders of the WNDX film festival and an Associate Professor of Media Arts at NSCAD in Nova Scotia) Solomon Nagler delivers this haunting and moving portrait of the contents of the genizah in Lublin, Poland. Gorgeous analogue images, many in luscious monochrome but with occasional dapples of colour, are accompanied by a gorgeous score by Lukas Pearse and punctuated with passages of sacred writings from within the genizah and presented in Hebrew, transliterated into English and in English itself (and of course, crediting their long-dead authors). The movie is as heartbreaking as it is soaring and inspiring.
EMPTYING THE TANK by Montreal-based Caroline Monnet, a former Winnipeg filmmaker (she made her astonishing IKWE through the Women’s Mosaic Project at the WFG), is an inspiring documentary portrait of Ashley Nichols, a mixed martial artist of Indigenous heritage (Chippewa of the Thames First Nation) whom we see train rigorously and impart her sense spirituality as it relates to both her culture and athleticism. This is a real visual treat with exquisitely composed monochrome images.
PASEO is the directorial debut by former Winnipegger Matthew Hannam (acclaimed editor of indie hits ENEMY starring Jake Gyllenhaal, JAMES WHITE and SWISS ARMY MAN). It stars Sarah Gadon (ALIAS GRACE, AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2) as a woman exploring alternate realities and her inner life while touring Barcelona.
I AM THE CAPTAIN OF THIS SHIP by former Winnipegger Roger D. Wilson (Cooper), utilizes gorgeous analogue imagery to evocative effect in the unforgettable experimental documentary in which numbness, dissociation and isolation, the subject’s only known survival techniques, give way to a stage and safeguard of the forest and his own mind.
So there you have it – seven cool films by Winnipeg filmmakers at one of the coolest film festivals in the world. Winnipeg is definitely the place to be (or be from) to make movies independently that live well beyond our borders.
– Greg Klymkiw, Executive Director, Winnipeg Film Group