16. March 2016 · Comments Off on Questions of Art & Identity — Jesus of Montreal, Life Classes · Categories: Feature Films, Visible Cinema · Tags: , , , ,

Questions of Art & Identity — Jesus of Montreal, Life Classes
mattby Matt Joyce

One’s identity and the complexity of this identity is where the artist finds the source for artistic expression. What has come to shape our individual identity will become clear in our art form. The relationship between individual identity and artistic expression is strong and similar for the one offers stability and clarity to the other. Many artists channel their expression from the familiarity and intensity of their individual identity. The strength of this relationship between individual identity and artistic expression can be illustrated in Denys Arcand’s film, Jesus De Montreal (1989), and William D. MacGillivray’s film, Life Classes (1987). When looking at these two films and the relationship between art and identity and how one spawns the other, we see the drive of the artist (the filmmaker) and how his identity is both inside and outside the film that he has created. Through the director on the outside and the characters and events within the film and the similarities between them we see how the artist’s identity creates the type of art he/she as an individual wants to express. The artistic expression of the characters acts as one with the style of the director and the difference between fiction and reality starts to unwind. “Those characters aren’t insects I’m looking at. Not at all. They’re my friends, they’re me.” (McSorley, 12) More »

21. February 2016 · Comments Off on The Films of Arthur Lipsett · Categories: Canadian Filmmakers, Experimental Films, Visible Cinema · Tags: ,

The Films of Arthur Lipsett  – experimental film
mattby Matt Joyce

Arthur Lipsett (1936-1986) is one of the most mysterious and unique filmmakers within the tradition of experimental film in Canada. He is able both to reveal an interior world of such intense awareness while also inspiring within the viewer a felt experience of universal truths. Comparing two of his films, Free Fall (1964) and A Trip down Memory Lane (1965), and contrasting them with his first film, Very Nice, Very Nice (1961), we can see how Lipsett unveils, through his film collages and fractured soundscapes, layers of conditioned, received attitudes toward modern life, while probing the more complex and enmeshed motivations behind human behaviour. In so doing Lipsett is attempting to elicit an awakening – a conscious response – from a people who inhabit their external environment like sleepwalkers, allowing the moment to pass over them without questioning or examining its deeper meaning or truth. More »

Toys – Grant Munro (NFB) – experimental film
mattby Matt Joyce

On the surface, the short film, Toys (1966) by Grant Munro, can be seen as an anti-war film. A message about the effects war toys have on children, it reveals how their glamorization has noticeable repercussions, potentially furthering desensitization to violence. Though this is not the sole message, the film’s derived authenticity comes from its use of dualities. Through the cinematic use of pixilation, realist film form and chosen composition, the film dissolves the structures that separate common binary oppositions. These formal elements, combined with the humanist relation between child and toy, attempt to merge the dichotomies that society understands and perceives as being either fantasy or reality, probable or improbable connections.

The film begins by situating the child in the domain of fantasy – a toy store – a place filled with imagination, where the displays of possibility captivate the mind. The camera portrays faces of excitement and wonder as these children mentally debate their favourite figure. More »

31. July 2015 · Comments Off on To Be Reel: The independent film artist in the wake of digital absorption · Categories: Film-related, Visible Cinema · Tags: , , , , , , ,

To Be Reel: The independent film artist in the wake of digital absorption
mattby Matt Joyce

The debate surrounding film and digital cinema is becoming exhausting. Two mediums to choose from – which one is better? It is just not that simple. Like all debates, there are valid points on either side; different people use different mediums for different purposes. Yet it is because both parties are coming from two opposing subjective standpoints that the debate has escalated into irrelevance. The large-scale truth of the matter is: digital is taking over. Independent filmmakers all over the world have embraced the positive benefits of digital video for quite some time, but now digital is taking over the industry. However, this shift does not mean the death of film. Film’s medium is finding a new home, and a new appreciation from a smaller niche of individual independent filmmakers.

During an internship at the Independent Filmmakers Cooperative of Ottawa (IFCO) in Ottawa, Canada, I witness the various ways in which local film artists continue to choose film as their medium. What I determine from my experiences at IFCO is that the decision to privilege film as the medium comes from both a passion for the process of filmmaking itself and recognition of the desired mode of representation specifically sought after by the filmmaker. The purpose of this essay will thus be to describe objectively the impact of digital video while in turn explaining the special new importance film is garnering as a medium. More »

19. July 2015 · Comments Off on “So you’re just the thing we need?” – Canadian sensibility in The Sweet Hereafter · Categories: Film-related, Visible Cinema · Tags: , , ,

Ottawa Indie Fest guest blogger Matt Joyce launches his new series Visible Cinema today with an essay on Atom Egoyan‘s The Sweet Hereafter.  The film won 3 awards at the 1997 Cannes International Film Festival including The Grand Prix.  Egoyan was recently a guest on  CPAC’s series Ken Rockburn Presents.


“So you’re just the thing we need?” – Canadian sensibility in The Sweet Hereafter
mattby Matt Joyce

In Atom Egoyan’s film, The Sweet Hereafter (1997), we see how tensions between different takes on reality come to define us as individuals and as a Canadian community. This film explores the ways in which we all have stories that control us and drive us to seek both higher meaning and resolution for our pain. The Sweet Hereafter deals with the recurring issue of the invasion of technology into small-scale human lives and how the inhuman side of an increasingly fast paced lifestyle can overpower our sense of truth. This theme is channeled through the outward, legalistic thinking and motivation of Mitchell Stevens (Ian Holm) contrasted against the inward, spiritual thinking of Nicole Burnell (Sarah Polley), who over time comes to seem like the vision and voice of Canadian cinema itself.

The people of a small town in British Columbia are all affected by a tragic bus accident in which their children are lost. A big city lawyer haunted by his own estranged relationship to his only daughter, who fights with him continually by cell phone, comes to persuade the distraught families to sue for compensation, only to find himself confronted with unpredictable ways of handling loss, anger, and issues of comfort and control. Mr. Stevens underestimates everybody; he thinks they can be manipulated and bought. However as Canadians we do not automatically think there is a conspiracy or some glitch in the system responsible and therefore suable for our pain. As Canadians we are grounded in the importance of our town, the strength of our community, the beauty of our rivers and mountains, and the inner peace we receive from our surroundings; hence the almost dream-like feel of this B.C. landscape where the people suffer what everyone suffers but remain contented, comforted by the help of their neighbours. Lawyers, legal solutions and cell phones cannot pinpoint what is at the heart of these people. More »