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Screenings and Events

gerontophilia-003
THE TROY BORDUN VISITING CANADIAN
FILMMAKER: BRUCE LABRUCEFILM SCREENING + SEMINARFILM SCREENING:Gerontophilia
2014, Canada, 82 minutes, Rated 14A
Market Hall, 140 Charlotte Street
Thursday, February 25, 8PM
FREE and open to the public
Bruce LaBruce will be in attendance for a Q&A

The fact that “Gerontophilia” is immediately palatable is what makes its creators’ perspective that much more inviting. This is a comedy that encourages viewers to be impulsive, and pointedly seek love and acceptance outside of “normal” social institutions, especially when it comes to family and romance. It’s about cherishing impulsivity over introspection, and amassing life experiences without fear of negative consequences.

“Gerontophilia” is enjoyable because it has softer edges that do nothing to diminish its hard core. It’s an inclusive comedy that is also radical in its insistence that you don’t need to distinguish between what your head and your groin want.
(Simon Abrams, rogerebert.com)

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SEMINAR WITH BRUCE LABRUCE:

Senior Common Room, Scott House
Traill College, 310 London Street
Friday, February 26, 10AM
FREE and open to the public
A bevy of snacks and beverages will be provided by BE Catering

LaBruce will discuss his extensive work in Canadian cinema, the transition from celluloid to digital, social media tactics, and the role of pornography in his films.

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Generously supported by Trent Film Society, Traill College, Canadian Studies, Gender and Women’s Studies, English Literature, and Cultural Studies (Trent University), Trent Queer Collective, Peterborough Pride, Trent Graduate Student Association, and BE Catering

Of Pornology, promo To Conference, promo

“We can always smuggle in the frivolous but under what conditions is frivolity possible? The form of this question lets itself be disintegrated simply by the very semblance of its object.”

-Jacques Derrida

Wednesday, September 30th, 2015, 7pm – 10pm, Scott House, Bagnani Hall, & Wallis Hall, Traill College, 310 London Street, Peterborough, ON

Reception and Q&A with Dylan Cree and Dimitrios Otis at The Trend at 8:30pm

Hosted by Traill College with support from the Cultural Studies Undergraduate Program & Trent Film Society

Generally thought, from the aftermath of conceptual art was born the concept of institutional critique, and with it, research-based artistic practice. The influence of this approach on contemporary art has in many turns reframed methodology and the terrain of artistic labour. The notion that artists should develop and distribute forms of “criticality” and knowledge to be justified within contemporary institution has become a central value to current artistic administration.

The two video works, To Conference: Faux Pas in Perpetuity and Of Pornology effectively perform and critique the underbelly of academic processes. Of Pornology, a 21-minute video, is organized around a members-only strategy meeting on the study of porn for the purposes of boosting the academic profile of The Institution for Abortive Techniques in MetaTheoretics. To Conference, a multi-part looped video, is a pranking of post-modernist tropes and analyses that takes its form as a series of fictionalized interviews with cultural theorist and founder of publishing house Semiotext(e) Sylvère Lotringer. Cree aims to make visible the complex rules and the construction of space for protocols of institutional practices. Further, be it in relationship to the intricacies of these theories or the politics of the abject, his work, in its form of multi-projected images, relentlessly confronts its viewer by stretching and destroying the boundaries/forms/good taste of the academic interview as a documentary genre. The viewer is also challenged with the fatiguing tasks of following complex dialogues about the status of knowledge-production found in scholarly interrogations. Scholarly investigations aside, Cree’s works are first and foremost satire.

Dylan Cree is a PhD candidate in the department of Communication Studies at Simon Fraser University. He did undergraduate work at Trent University in the mid 80’s prior to completing a BA in philosophy at the University of British Columbia followed by a MFA in Contemporary Arts at SFU. Alongside his academic pursuits he has produced films, videos, a conference and texts which self-reflexively explore the limits of these mediums as spaces of critical theoretical engagement.

Dimitrios Otis is an actor in To Conference. He graduated from Trent University in Cultural Studies. He is best known for his “porn archeology” activities in unearthing and releasing lost X-rated films such as Ed Wood’s last movie The Young Marrieds and Canada’s only hardcore feature Sexcula. He is currently seeking a publisher for his novel Recipe: The Season of Primal Food, a radical “refinement” of the Marquis De Sade’s The 120 Days of Sodom.

Curated by Troy Bordun.

Perhaps a strange question to ask a documentary film festival. Certainly there were documentaries at the festivals, but the offerings over the last three years have not been a compendium of the genre. This may be due to the festival’s focus on social and political issues, the quality of submissions, or the choices in programming. The documentaries at ReFrame – the ones I have seen and read about, naturally – accomplish two things: information-transfer and story-telling. And these often amount to the same.

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This is the life of… This is the story of… This is the situation in… An interview, a cut to a shot of person or landscape X, continuity music. Narrativized and digestible. These documentaries, of some value to be sure, find their peers not in the theatre but on the television. This is reinforced by the running time of the films: this year no screening went over 100 minutes and most tended to hover around the 80 minute mark. Long enough to present some fact or some story masquerading as a reality. A fact to learn then quickly forget.

Where are the Flahertys, the Vertovs, the Vigos, the Rouchs, the experimental NFB films, the Allan Kings, the Minh-has, the Farockis? Could we ever see a film from a filmmaker like Wiseman or Seidl or Herzog or Varda, or a work from the Sensory Ethnography Lab? Where are the creative treatments of actuality (Grierson)? To reformulate my question: Where are the non-narrative films?[1] The shared creative moment amongst the feature films I’ve seen at ReFrame: how to present a story or fact so as to not confound audiences, precisely to have them not pose any questions of interpretation or engage too many cognitive skills. The most technical aspect of these films was therefore the editing and organization of the raw materials.

ReFrame advertises itself as Films Worth Talking About. Their posters and pre-show attractions creatively play with this idea (e.g., You are stuck on an elevator with the CEO of your company. If you had been to ReFrame, you could say something smart… instead you mention the weather). A note on spectatorship and my biases on the table: even the worst fictional narrative films are more cognitively demanding than the best of the interview, information-transfer documentaries. Mediocre fictional narrative films are better conversation pieces than a superb interrogative documentary. (Polemics – apologies.)

Bill Nichols named this documentary mode Interactive – its heyday was the 1970s and 1980s. Each film I saw at ReFrame 2015 falls victim to Nichol’s concise account of the mode’s deficiency: “excessive faith in witnesses, naïve history.”[2] The filmmakers tried to counter this with some kind of style or aesthetic device that made their work unbearable to watch: e.g., in Regarding Susan Sontag (2014), the overwhelming number of projections of Susan Sontag’s face onto buildings, frames, bottles, and the painful voiceover reading punchy selections from the author’s publications; in On the Trail of the Far Fur Country (2014), the awful voiceover reading letters from husband to wife; Stream of Love’s (2014) attempt at disrupting temporality with cuts to individuals clearly outside the time of the sequence or scene.

ReFrame has wrapped up its 11th year. The festival seems to grow as each January passes. Its success with individuals young and old, and its assurance that bums will be in seats, now grants festival organizers the opportunity to take some risks in their programming. Such risks would then produce more creative submissions. Fingers crossed for the years to come.

[1] I realize that some of the shorter films at the festival are, perhaps, these non-narrative films. Unfortunately I’ve yet to see one.

[2] Additionally, the expository mode of documentary in the 1930s still carries its deficiency to films of the 21st century: “overly didactic.”

The recent hack of five unreleased films should force executives to reconsider their ethos in regards to piracy and film consumption. I propose that the fight against piracy relocate its battlefield. The fight should be waged not against the pirates, i.e., online, but oddly enough, in the cinema.

Timothy Spall in Mr Turner

At least in the press, film distributors have neglected the very spaces in which their films are featured. One possible way to combat piracy is to make the films available for consumption at the cinema (what a strange idea!). This means fighting the multiplex (in Ontario, Cineplex). Consider one of the hacked films, Mike Leigh’s Mr. Turner (2014). Is there a crime when, for a large percentage of Ontarians, there is nothing to steal? By nothing I mean that for mid-sized cities one cannot steal Mr. Turner because, according to IMDB, on December 19th it will receive only a limited release. A number of film-goers cannot actually see the film in the cinema, thus there is nothing stolen if individuals decide to download lower quality rips. To combat piracy, then, film distributors need to take their grievances to Cineplex. As a further example, there is something deeply unsettling about the chain’s programming schedule, for instance, Let’s be Cops (2014) holding its place in the theater for 2-3 months while Birdman (2014) and Boyhood (2014) had two weeks.

So, first, switch the terrain of the fight. Next, we might want to ask if the film distributors would prefer their films to be consumed illegally or not at all. A flop like Fury (2014) might not be watched en masse if it were not for current and future illegal downloads. The illegal consumption of David Ayer’s film, and of the images of the actors therein, reinforces viewers’ interest in something like autuerism, whether with Ayer’s oeuvre or our fascinations with Brad Pitt and other A-list stars: e.g., by illegally consuming Fury, viewers may attend the next Pitt film in the theaters. Downloading fosters community and culture; film distributors combating piracy, at this stage in film consumption, is a shot in the foot.

Claiming that the production of “good movies” will save film companies is unnecessary elitism. I believe spectators decide what films are to be produced (or by previous attendance numbers, companies produce films that spectators will watch). The success of Birdman and Boyhood suggests that spectators are also ready to watch serious films in the theater (note: serious doesn’t necessarily mean “good”). Film distributors need to inform multiplexes of this fact. Piracy will continue but a strong community of film-goers should maintain or increase theater attendance.