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 this isn’t really an argument against empathy per se. The animation is a little rudimentary, but it still serves as a provocation to the burgeoning industry of liberal documentary and its attendant army of NGOs,…read more . . . → Read More: ezra winton: Against empathy?
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 and what are their lives like? Answering, or at least interrogating, these questions would move us in a direction to better understand the complexities of bullying and would likely elicit a more nuanced, thoughtful reaction…read more . . . → Read More: ezra winton: Fighting Fascism by way of Understanding the Fascists
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 the CP locals, or chapters, worldwide) came up with the brilliant turn-of-phase above, Streaming Truth to Power. Marie-Noelle has been multi-tasking design and translation to such an effect that I’m sure I saw custom-designed (and…read more . . . → Read More: ezra winton: Streaming Truth to Power: CPVOD Launches!
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 Tanya Tagaq and Alethea Arnaquq-Baril took to social media to express their dismay, anger and frustration over the inclusion of an ethically problematic film in the festival’s program. The resulting fallout revealed a deep chasm…read more . . . → Read More: ezra winton: Curating the North: Documentary Screening Ethics and Inuit Representation in (Festival) Cinema
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 is here, 2013 is here and 2012 is here) of Hot Docs, I humbly present my take on this year’s fest, divided into three Sergio Leone-inspired sections: what’s promising, what’s looking like a fixer-upper, and…read more . . . → Read More: ezra winton: Hot Docs 22: CanCon and BrandCon
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 . . . → Read More: ezra winton: Still Talking about Challenge for Change
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, . . . → Read More: ezra winton: My Programmers Rant – 2014
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 . . . → Read More: ezra winton: Launching the Cinema Politica Book
This is the poster for the John Greyson talk and CP book launch in Montreal in a few days. Can’t wait!
I’ll be speaking at this roundtable on April 9th in Montreal. Looking forward to it!
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 . . . → Read More: ezra winton: POV Magazine
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 . . . → Read More: ezra winton: The costs of consumption
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 . . . → Read More: ezra winton: The fish farm conspiracy – BC salmon are diseased from farms but the Canadian Govt covers it up
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 . . . → Read More: ezra winton: Black Sea pirates at Hot Docs
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 . . . → Read More: ezra winton: Representing addiction in documentary cinema
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.
. . . → Read More: ezra winton: The animals on our screen – A review of The Ghosts in Our Machine
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 . . . → Read More: ezra winton: Free International Women’s Day Films at NFB.ca
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 . . . → Read More: ezra winton: The Documentary Download Dilemma – A Conversation with Doc-streamers Thought Maybe
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 . . . → Read More: ezra winton: Scrap America – A conversation with Scrapper filmmaker Brian Ashby
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 . . . → Read More: ezra winton: Hot Docs 2012 – The good, the bad, the incomprehensible