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The Road Ended at the Beach and Other Legends: Parsing the Escarpment School – Part Three

SAT, MAR 26 / 2pm
Curated by Brett Kashmere
Introduced by Chris Gehman

Personal explorations, exhumed family histories, and counter-narratives: Part three of The Road Ended at the Beach and Other Legends turns further inwards, gathering subjective interventions with the past, small monuments for the departed, and reflection on the elusive nature of moving images. Loss, mourning, and remembrance weigh heavily here. Beginning with Mike Cartmell’s enigmatic, invented etymology of the self, In the Form of the Letter ‘X’, several of these films employ stylized treatments and formal manipulation–via hand-processing, superimposition, optical printing–to mine the gap between reality and representation. Also prevalent is the use of first person voice-over to grapple with the pain of looking back and to give expression to the silences of history and memory. This notion of presence and absence joins the work in this program, which attempts to manifest what is unseen in plain sight, making the private public, the invisible visible. – Brett Kashmere

IN THE FORM OF THE LETTER X (Dir. Mike Cartmell, 1985, Canada, 6 MIN)
This film is predicated upon the quasi-fictional discovery that [Herman] Melville’s name and my name mean the same thing: both came from an old French verb ‘meler’ meaning ‘to come together, to meet, to intersect’ and both are names of towns at crossroads. By exhaustive translation, I reduce them both to ‘X,’ the Greek letter chi (as in chimera), and the rhetorical trope ‘chiasmus’. (MC)

NURSING HISTORY (Dir. Marian McMahon, 1989, Canada, 10 MIN)
Nursing History began as an inquiry into the nature of woman’s work, specifically the relationship between woman’s work as wives and mothers, and woman’s work as nurses. Having worked as a nurse for ten years, I decided to locate this inquiry historically, within my own past as represented in the home movies that, for the most part, my father had made and that stand as a record of our family’s collective history… In reviewing this public record of interpreted events, I found myself living within memories of events that could not be seen… I began to ask: what else was being recorded here and whose histories were these images claiming to represent? (MM)

FROGLIGHT (Dir. Sarah Abbott, 1997, Canada, 4 MIN)
In Froglight, poetic voice-over narration is woven with images and sounds from the natural landscape to engage viewers’ imaginations. As a result of allowing elements to come magically together in the creative process, the film has an intangible sensibility that echoes the experience of trying to trust in something that cannot be seen or touched. Froglight is an exploratory film made during a five-day hand-processing retreat led by Canadian experimental filmmaker Philip Hoffman. The film is in memory of Phil’s wife, Marian McMahon – filmmaker, academic and independent curator. Her ideas and suggestions were instrumental in the development of Froglight. (SA)

ELEGY (Dir. Gary Popovich, 1989, Canada, 21 MIN)
Amidst the ghosts of his cultural roots, Popovich creates a lyrical and loving light monument dealing with separation, change and death. “Part diary, part travelogue, part memorium for a friend’s death, Elegy deftly and poetically blends the private concerns of the filmmaker, a discovery of roots in his native Yugolavia, and the insubstantiality of remembered moments.” (Kass Banning, Now Magazine)

SWEETBLOOD (Dir. Steve Sanguedolce, 1993, Canada, 13 MIN)
Sweetblood’s chief elements include a flurry of family photos, a collage of Italian immigrant voices and a bottle of red. Expertly made, this memoir is Steve Sanguedolce’s hymn to his family, and his own secret history of the seventies. (Toronto Festival of Festivals)

SHAGGIE: LETTERS FROM PRISON (Dir. Janis Cole, 1990, Canada, 12 MIN)
Marlene Moore was incarcerated in juvenile facilities at the age of 13. She spent the next 20 years behind bars. In 1988, Marlene ended her life at Kingston’s Prison for Women. She was 33 years old. Known as Shaggie to her friends, Marlene made headlines with a sensational trial that branded her as “Canada’s most dangerous female offender.” Despite efforts by her friends to erase that label, it haunted her to her grave.

WHITE MUSEUM (Dir. Mike Hoolboom, 1986, Canada, 32 MIN)
White Museum is a 35-minute audio piece with 33 minutes of clear leader tape. In some hands, that could mean a fatal tour into the land of self-indulgence, but Hoolboom manages to make of his cinema without images an engaging, squatter’s eye view of the critical landscape. Hoolboom’s anecdotal voice-over floats over a soundtrack collage of pop-culture effluvia, television ads and snippets of rock music. (Robert Everett-Green, Globe and Mail)

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