ezra winton: Against empathy?

This short animation from The Atlantic highlights some of Professor Paul Bloom’s thoughts on why empathy—at least a kind of status quo mainstream empathy—isn’t really a good thing at all. The short should really be called “Against warm glow altruism,” as Bloom is focused on building off of Peter Singer’s concept of effective altruism and ...

ezra winton: Fighting Fascism by way of Understanding the Fascists

One of the common criticisms of advocacy films like Bully that I’ve heard and share is that the filmmakers narrowly focus on victims without ever exploring those who perpetrate. These films help along the equivocal knee-jerk reaction to oppression when we have a two-dimensional villain to point to: kids today! But why do kids bully ...

ezra winton: Streaming Truth to Power: CPVOD Launches!

The last 48 hours have been quite the whirlwind of activity at Cinema Politica HQ here in Montreal. We’ve been planning a launch date for our newest expansion of the political cinema terrain: Cinema Politica Video-On-Deman (or #CPVOD as we like to call it for short). Anna, our fearless Network Coordinator (she works with all ...

ezra winton: Curating the North: Documentary Screening Ethics and Inuit Representation in (Festival) Cinema

This article was originally published at ArtThreat.net on December 17, 2015. Documentary festivals are certainly not immune to scandal and controversy, and this year’s RIDM, which took place in Montreal in November 2015, was no exception. Following on the heels of the festival’s public screenings of Dominic Gagnon’s film Of the North, Inuit artists like ...

ezra winton: Hot Docs 22: CanCon and BrandCon

North America’s largest and most sweeping doc-deluge, the Canadian International Hot Docs Festival, is once again in full swing, and the moment wouldn’t be complete, for me at least, without some form of commentary that assesses this institutional giant as it marks another year. In that spirit and as with past “taking stock” previews (2014 ...

ezra winton: Still Talking about Challenge for Change

Challenge for Change/Société nouvelle was a program launched by the National Film Board of Canada in the late sixties that facilitated the production of around 200 social documentaries known for their inclusion of subjects in the production process and their uncompromising critiques of government programs. In 2010 I co-edited a book on CFC/SN with Tom ...

ezra winton: My Programmers Rant – 2014

I’ve watched over 50 documentaries in the last two weeks (and many more over 14 years of programming), and here’s what I’m thinking: The first point is so important that I’d like to just put it up front and center, then get on with the lesser evils of contemporary documentary filmmaking: If white people, who ...

ezra winton: Launching the Cinema Politica Book

From left to right, at the Cinema Politica book launch: Svetla Turnin, John Greyson, Thomas Waugh and Ezra Winton.   High up on the eleventh floor of Concordia’s EV (Engineering and Visual Arts) building in downtown Montreal 150 or so people gathered as a sun set reflected in orange hues across a range of high-rise ...

ezra winton: CP book launch and John Greyson talk

This is the poster for the John Greyson talk and CP book launch in Montreal in a few days. Can’t wait!

ezra winton: Strategies and Tactics – April Speaking Event

I’ll be speaking at this roundtable on April 9th in Montreal. Looking forward to it!

ezra winton: POV Magazine

When Marc Glassman, the editor of POV magazine, asked me to join the publication as the newest contributing editor last year I was honoured. As Canada’s only source of writing on documentary culture, politics and production, the quarterly has been my go-to on all things doc for some time. Started by the Canadian Independent Film ...

ezra winton: The costs of consumption

The next time someone asks me why I’m an anti-capitalist, I’m just going to tell them to watch GREEN: DEATH OF THE FORESTS by Patrick Rouxel. A stunning visual essay showing the reasons behind and consequences of Indonesia’s massive deforestation, GREEN is without narration, talking heads or any humans really at all, and as such ...

ezra winton: The fish farm conspiracy – BC salmon are diseased from farms but the Canadian Govt covers it up

This is a great independent doc by a friend from British Columbia. It is absolutely shocking to see the lengths the provincial and federal governments are going to in order to not allow the dissemination of information about the role of BC fish farms in the destruction of wild salmon populations. According to the doc, ...

ezra winton: Black Sea pirates at Hot Docs

Svetla and I are giddy with anticipation with the thought of attending the world premiere of a new doc by our Bulgarian friends Vanya and Svetlo, THE LAST OF THE BLACK SEA PIRATES at this year’s Hot Docs. If the film is half as good as the incredible trailer above, then we’re in for a ...

ezra winton: Representing addiction in documentary cinema

In just under a month on May 11th, I’ll be speaking in Vancouver at a conference about the intersection of documentary, addiction, madness and social health. I’ll be speaking about NFB and activist docs and focusing on three new conceptual frames I’m developing in my documentary research: proximal empathy, hierarchies of harm and anti-gratification. I’m ...

ezra winton: The animals on our screen – A review of The Ghosts in Our Machine

Over the last decade of programming political documentary for Cinema Politica I can say with confidence that there are two subjects that have always been decidedly divisive and caused the most vociferous backlash from audience members. One of those subjects is the ongoing illegal occupation of Palestine and the other is animal rights.

ezra winton: Free International Women’s Day Films at NFB.ca

The beaten (by the Canadian Conservative budget cuts) but not down National Film Board of Canada is offering a treasure trove of titles for free streaming today, in celebration and recognition of International Women’s Day. Included in the bunch is the 2012 experimental short by Jenn Strom, below (after the jump), called ASSEMBLY. We’re not ...

ezra winton: The Documentary Download Dilemma – A Conversation with Doc-streamers Thought Maybe

Much ink has been spilled and pixels punctuated regarding the ongoing controversial topic around the copyright, downloading, streaming and file sharing of creative content — yet there has been little discussion (outside of organizational listserves and at festival forums) of documentary cinema and file sharing. This may be in large part due to the fact that public ...

ezra winton: Scrap America – A conversation with Scrapper filmmaker Brian Ashby

This week’s Friday Film Pick is the beautifully shot and tenderly rendered Scrappers, a documentary that quietly follows two Chicago residents as they eke out a living from the salvaging of metallic refuse. It’s not fist-in-the-air advocacy filmmaking for the downtrodden, but in its own way Scrappers gets under the skin, forcing a closer look ...

ezra winton: Hot Docs 2012 – The good, the bad, the incomprehensible

This article was originally published at Art Threat. The 19th edition of North America’s largest documentary showcase and one of the world’s largest film festivals begins this week, running from April 26 to May 6 in Toronto. With Charlotte Cook replacing Sean Farnel as head programmer, new directions (fewer films, more focus is the official ...