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 […] . . . → Read More: Art Threat: Curating the North: Documentary Screening Ethics and Inuit Representation in (Festival) Cinema
RIDM always has way more films that look fantastic than any one person with other commitments can reasonably see in the space of ten days, which is a great problem to have. These are a few suggestions of things we’ve seen and loved.
The Chinese Mayor
The Chinese Mayor (2015, Hao Zhou) is a . . . → Read More: Art Threat: Our RIDM suggestions: urban development, rural Jesus, protest music, and more
The Exhibiton — Peter Kennard: A Very Unofficial War Artist, Imperial War Museum, London The Film — Zygosis: John Heartfield and the Political Image by Gavin Hodge & Tim Morrison (1991)
The images in this archival exhibition, Peter Kennard: A Very Unofficial War Artist, represent a radical perspective on the history of the last 70 . . . → Read More: Art Threat: Peter Kennard: A very unofficial war artist
Though often situated at the centre of grandiose political and activist projects, tasked time and again with capturing visible evidence of exploitation, violence, deprivation, and inequality, documentary, as both a genre and a practice, rests on a fundamental paradox: that of being perpetually too early and too late. If, as T.J. Demos writes near the . . . → Read More: Art Threat: From Exposé to Opacity: With The Migrant Image, T.J Demos Rethinks Documentary Aesthetics
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 of . . . → Read More: Art Threat: Hot Docs 22: CanCon and BrandCon
An appeal from the international community of film scholars, cinephiles and archivists:
Avala Film, the former Yugoslavia’s oldest film studio – which was at the heart of Mila Turajlic’s 2010 internationally acclaimed documentary CINEMA KOMUNISTO – is to be sold by the Serbian government for the value of the terrain that the “film . . . → Read More: Art Threat: Petition to Save Film Heritage in Former Yugoslavia
Julia Kwan’s NFB-produced Everything Will Be (Canada, 2014) examines the gentrification of Vancouver’s Chinatown as an uneasy balance of preservation, assimilation, and creative re-purposing.
A flurry of condo development encroaches on the neighbourhood’s familiar faces, such as the witty nonagenarian newsvendor and the members of the senior’s singing club. Meanwhile, younger community members inherit their . . . → Read More: Art Threat: A Changing Chinatown
Nearly two dozen filmmakers have yanked their films from the 34th Istanbul Film Festival in response to the last-minute cancellation of documentary screening about the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).
The growing censorship protest, which now involves a majority of the filmmakers participating in the event, has led organizers to cancel competitions and the closing . . . → Read More: Art Threat: Filmmakers pull out of Istanbul festival in government censorship protest
In 2001, filmmakers Kathryn Xian and Brent Anbe broke new ground with their documentary Ke Kulana He Mahu: Remembering a Sense of Place. The film, which documents the lives, struggles, and aspirations of several queer and trans Kanaka Maoli (Indigenous Hawaiians), also made an important and, at the time, novel effort to explore how the . . . → Read More: Art Threat: Performing Aloha in Queer Times
“>Screening Truth to Power: A Reader on Documentary Activism is a collection of essays and interviews related to the films and filmmakers of Cinema Politica (CP), and as such provides an excellent source of Canadian documentary work that pursues effecting positive social change.
This non-profit doc-screening organization, which started in Montreal’s Concordia University, has . . . → Read More: Art Threat: Screening Truth to Power: A Reader on Documentary Activism
Sergei Loznitsa’s latest film, Maidan, falls firmly in the tradition of documentaries that use the real to question the possibilities of cinema. Those expecting a more activist documentary like Jehane Noujaim’s The Square might come away dissatisfied with Maidan, but this shouldn’t stop filmgoers from experiencing what is ultimately one of the most honest depictions . . . → Read More: Art Threat: Maidan: one of the most honest depictions of popular protest ever filmed
The only thing I hate more than bad puns is bad ethnography, and La cour de Babel walks a fine line on that.
Following an integration class for new immigrants at a Parisian high school, the entire film is shot from the teacher’s perspective. While this is not apparent at first, since the camera angle . . . → Read More: Art Threat: Ethnography 101: La cour de Babel and La marche à suivre
A lot of people didn’t like The Act of Killing, Joshua Oppenheimer’s 2012 film exposing the impunity the perpetrators of Indonesia’s 1965 genocide continue to benefit from. The biggest objection was that the film focused only on the killers, leaving out almost any treatment of victims or survivors. One critic even twisted Oppenheimer’s statement that . . . → Read More: Art Threat: The Look of Silence: breathtaking in every sense
The Secret Trial 5, director Amar Wala’s first feature, is an engaging and enraging look at five men labelled security risks by the Canadian government and detained without trial for a combined total of 30 years in prison, and another 20 years (and counting) under strict house arrest.
Shot over four years, the film follows . . . → Read More: Art Threat: Engaging and Enraging: A Review of The Secret Trial 5
On the outside, The Condemned is what you would expect of a documentary about a prison: bad food, unsympathetic guards, tearful family reunions, letters from Lonely Hearts, and a lot of tattoos. But Federal Penal Colony 56, buried deep in the wilderness of Russia, contains so much more.
A prison exclusively for murderers with 260 . . . → Read More: Art Threat: The Condemned exposes the dark lives of convicted murderers
“… it’s a place I call home, although I blend in only as a familiar stranger.”
Evaporating Borders, written and directed by Iva Radivojevic, is a five-act exploration of asylum-seekers in Cyprus.
Beginning with a personal, essayistic voiceover and lush compositions, the film’s first act also uses subtly executed re-enactments of events in order to . . . → Read More: Art Threat: Evaporating Borders explores asylum-seekers in Cyprus
It’s springtime in Toronto and that means Canada’s premiere documentary showcase is back for another jam-packed ten day event that will deliver the world of doc to eager local audiences and international festivalgoers.
This is Hot Docs‘s first year with new Executive Director Brett Hendrie steering the ship (Chris McDonald is now overseeing the Bloor . . . → Read More: Art Threat: Hot Docs 2014 preview: politically punchy program, diversity festival gap still needs work
This week marks the third anniversary of the crisis in Syria, and a new campaign involving Banksy asks that we stand in solidarity with Syrians.
#WithSyria asks the public to place pressure on political leaders to “do everything they can to make this the last anniversary marked by bloodshed.” The campaign takes graphic inspiration from . . . → Read More: Art Threat: Banksy video asks that we stand #WithSyria on third anniversary of conflict
VoiceOver | Riots Reframed (2013) is Fahim Alam’s first film, shot in the aftermath of the 2011 riots in London and other UK cities, while Alam was under conditional release and forced to wear an ankle tag after being arrested during a protest.
The film mixes archival, CCTV, and cell phone footage of the . . . → Read More: Art Threat: VoiceOver documentary reframes the 2011 London riots
Editor’s note: Christine Phang has recently written a contextual analysis of the Oscar-nominated documentary, The Act of Killing. After we read her essay we asked her to give us her opinion on the recent attacks on the film that have been levied by BBC honcho Nick Fraser. Fraser is extremely influential in the documentary world, . . . → Read More: Art Threat: The Act of Killing: My family lived through it
Editor’s note: Christine Phang, the author of this article, has also responded to attacks on the film by BBC critic Nick Fraser.
Indonesia’s history as an independent state has been a relatively short one. The authoritarian issues the country has faced, however, have played a large role in affecting several sociocultural aspects, a predominant one . . . → Read More: Art Threat: The Act of Killing: a step forward in a country that must look back
In times of stress we turn to torn fragments of ourselves and worship them as if they were whole nations (From Mars at Sunrise).
Mars at Sunrise (2014) is director Jessica Habie’s first feature. Billed as “A story of a war waged on imagination,” the film tells the story of Khaled, a working artist arrested . . . → Read More: Art Threat: Mars at Sunrise is a Cinematic Tone Poem
Rhymes for Young Ghouls, the debut feature film by Canadian director Jeff Barnaby that garnered well-deserved praise on the film festival circuit this year, including a top ten film nod from TIFF, is opening this month at theatres in Canada’s three largest cities.
The movie is currently screening in Toronto at Cineplex (Younge & Dundas) . . . → Read More: Art Threat: Contest: Win swag from Rhymes for Young Ghouls!
It was inevitable: a Rob Ford movie is coming soon to a theatre near you.
Just one week after the book release of Crazy Town: The Rob Ford Story, by Toronto Star journalist Robyn Doolittle, Canadian production company Blue Ice Pictures have snapped up the film and television rights to the story.
“If . . . → Read More: Art Threat: Pinko cyclists rejoice: Rob Ford film on the way
The Act of Killing (Joshua Oppenheimer, Anonymous, Christine Cynn, 2013) is a documentary about Indonesia’s anti-communist purges of 1965 that thankfully abandons the traditional interview format in favour of something daring and controversial.
As requested by victims’ families, Oppenheimer — who has been working inside Indonesia making social justice-related media for over a decade — . . . → Read More: Art Threat: The Act of Killing: Liberal Porn or Daring Activism?