Cinephemera

Cinephemera: Archives, Ephemeral Cinema, and New Screen Histories in Canada

ZOË DRUICK
GERDA CAMMAER
Copyright Date: 2014
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt130hcf5
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    Cinephemera
    Book Description:

    What do digital platforms mean for cinema studies in Canada? In an era when digital media are proliferating and thousands upon thousands of clips are available online, it seems counter-intuitive to say that audio-visual history is quickly disappearing. But the two processes are actually happening in tandem. Adopting a media-archaeological approach to the history of cinema, contributors to Cinephemera cover a wide range of pressing issues relating to Canadian cinema's ephemerality, including neglected or overlooked histories, the work of found footage filmmakers, questions about access and copyright, and practices of film archiving. Spurred by rapid changes to technologies of production, viewing, and preservation, this collection showcases both leading and emerging scholars grappling with the shifting meaning of cinema as an object of study. Film historians are put in conversation with experimental filmmakers and archivists to provide renewed energy for cinema studies by highlighting common interests around the materiality and circulation of films, videos, and other old media. Considering a wide range of cases from the earliest days of silent film production to the most recent initiatives in preservation, Cinephemera exposes the richness of moving image production in Canada outside the genres of feature length narrative fiction and documentary - a history that is at risk of being lost just as it is appearing. Contributors include Andrew Burke (Winnipeg), Jason Crawford (Champlain), Liz Czach (Alberta), Seth Feldman (York), Monika Kin Gagnon (Concordia), André Habib (Montreal), Randolph Jordan (SFU), Peter Lester (Brock), Scott Mackenzie (Queen's); Louis Pelletier (Montreal), Katherine Quanz (WLU), Micky Story (New College), Charles Tepperman (Calgary), Jennifer VanderBurgh (Saint Mary's), William C. Wees (McGill), Jerry White (Dalhousie), and Christine York (Concordia).

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-9675-7
    Subjects: Film Studies

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  3. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. ix-2)
  4. INTRODUCTION: CANADIAN CINEMA, EPHEMERAL CINEMA
    (pp. 3-13)
    Zoë Druick and Gerda Cammaer

    WHAT DOES THE digital turn mean for cinema studies? This question has taken on increasing urgency over the past decade as media makers and scholars of all stripes grapple with the material, epistemological, aesthetic, and economic shifts brought about by digital convergence. Along with cheaper production costs, digital promises to preserve and make accessible myriad films that would otherwise ferment in archives, basements, and obscure collections. And certainly initiatives like the Prelinger Archive in the United States, and even the embarrassment of riches available on demand on YouTube and Vimeo, seem to make this a reality. But what, specifically, does...

  5. 1 EARLY QUEBEC ACTUALITIES AND THE EPHEMERAL MEANING OF MOVING IMAGES IN THE TRANSITIONAL ERA
    (pp. 14-21)
    Louis Pelletier

    NON-FICTION FILMS have not always been relegated to the margins of cinema. In the early years of animated pictures, actuality films were produced and exhibited just as frequently as fiction films.¹ The marginalization of non-fiction subjects seems to have largely been the result of the institutionalization of film, a process commonly associated with cinema’s transitional era. Generally situated by historians somewhere between 1907 and the advent of the classical era in the mid-1910s, this crucial period of film history saw permanent film theatres replace travelling showmen as the dominant mode of exhibition, and multi-reel fiction films become the focal point...

  6. 2 CANADA’S LOST FRONTIER EPIC: THE STILLBORN SAGA OF POLICING THE PLAINS
    (pp. 22-38)
    Peter Lester

    IN SEPTEMBER 1925, seemingly at the height of popularity of Hollywood’s Mountie subgenre, theVancouver Provincereprinted a letter to the editor previously published in theLondon Daily Mail. The letter, penned anonymously by “a Canadian,” highlights with great concern the travails of the Canadian film industry, and in particular the representations of Canada itself in the American-produced films dominating domestic theatre screens. Lamenting how Canadians are forced “to see their own country caricatured,” the author pinpoints some of the dominant misconceptions, with particular attention to that most Canadian of national symbols, the Mountie:

    The American producer is very fond...

  7. 3 UNCOVERING CANADA’S AMATEUR FILM TRADITION: LESLIE THATCHER’S FILMS AND CONTEXTS
    (pp. 39-58)
    Charles Tepperman

    UNKNOWN IN THE annals of Canadian film history, Leslie Thatcher was a star of the amateur cinema world. In the mid-1930s, Thatcher won numerous international awards, and his well-crafted short films evince a striking aesthetic sophistication. In this chapter I introduce a filmmaker whose amateur work during the 1930s made important but unrecognized contributions to Canadian film history. I also point to some persistent gaps in our understanding of film history in Canada: while recent research contests received accounts of Canadian cinema’s late development and art film canon, the field remains full of blind spots and question marks. This is...

  8. 4 “MENTAL PROPHYLAXIS”: CRAWLEY FILMS, MCGRAW-HILL EDUCATIONAL FILMS, AND ORPHAN CINEMA
    (pp. 59-72)
    Scott MacKenzie

    MY RESEARCH ON Crawley Films began with one of many visits with the late Bill O’Farrell, who was chief of film preservation at the National Archives of Canada for many years. Bill was incredibly generous in allowing scholars and researchers access to the archive’s holdings, making great swathes of uncatalogued and otherwise orphaned material available for consultation. Bill was especially proud of the Crawley Films collection, as his father, Bill O’Farrell, Sr, had worked there for many years, starting as a truck driver and eventually becoming vice president. One of the many impressive aspects of this collection are the complete...

  9. 5 A THRILL EVERY MINUTE!: TRAVEL-ADVENTURE FILM LECTURES IN THE POST-WAR ERA
    (pp. 73-93)
    Liz Czach

    IN THE FALL OF 1958, the Toronto Anglers and Hunters Association announced its upcoming film lecture series. The 1958–59 Global Adventure all-colour film lecture round-up promised five travel-adventure films that would be presented during the October to April season. Screening in Toronto’s art-deco Eaton Auditorium, a non-theatrical venue with a 1,264 person capacity, the film lecture series included Sir Hubert Wilkins’sOff to the Arctic(c. 1958), which included sequences of Eskimo life; Howard Shelley’sHunter’s Moon(c. 1956), which depicted a Northern Ontario moose hunt; Murl Deusing’s wildlife filmAdventure in Africa(c. 1955), which featured exotic animals;...

  10. 6 “VERSIONS, REVISIONS, AND ADAPTATIONS”: FILM PRODUCTION IN TWO LANGUAGES AT THE NATIONAL FILM BOARD
    (pp. 94-111)
    Christine York

    IN 2008, FOR the first time, the National Film Board (nfb) set out a policy on version production requiring that all audiovisual works produced or co-produced after 1 April 2005 be made available in both French and English. In the case of animated films, a voice-over version would have to be produced, and in the case of documentary films, a subtitled version at minimum.¹ Today, any dvd released by the nfb includes a version in the other official language as an option. But it wasn’t always this way. Since the establishment of the nfb in 1939, each studio decided whether...

  11. 7 BREAKING NEW GROUND: CANADA’S FIRST FOUND-FOOTAGE FILMS
    (pp. 112-136)
    William C. Wees

    IN THE SECOND half of the 1960s, Canadian experimental filmmakers discovered the creative possibilities of working with film footage that had already been used in other contexts or set aside or left – figuratively or literally – on the cutting-room floor.¹ The Canadian pioneers in what is commonly known today asfound-footage filmorrecycled cinemawere Charles Gagnon, Arthur Lipsett, Jack Chambers, Joyce Wieland, and Betty Ferguson.² Since the sixties, Canadian found-footage films have proliferated thanks to, among others, David Rimmer, Al Razutis, Peter Lipskis, Bruce Elder, Jean-Claude Bustros, Mike Hoolboom, Richard Kerr, and Gerda Cammaer. In this chapter,...

  12. 8 UNFINISHED FILMS AND POSTHUMOUS CINEMA: CHARLES GAGNON’S R69 AND JOYCE WIELAND’S WENDY AND JOYCE
    (pp. 137-158)
    Monika Kin Gagnon

    R69IS AN UNFINISHED 16 mm film that my late father, Charles Gagnon, began in 1969.Wendy and Joyceis a 16 mm film that Canadian artist Joyce Wieland started in 1967 but never completed. These unfinished films unite these artists. Yet there is more that connects Gagnon and Wieland: the duration of their artistic careers, as both started producing art in the 1950s and died five years apart; their distinctive multidisciplinarity; and the late 1960s’ artistic conjuncture of urban Canada all offer further consonance. Their films’ unfinished potential generates what I callposthumous cinema, which I offer as a...

  13. 9 TIGER CHILD: IMAX AND DONALD BRITTAIN TIMES NINE
    (pp. 159-183)
    Seth Feldman

    FEW FILMS APPEAR to be so deliberately ephemeral as Donald Brittain’s 1970 short,Tiger Child. Produced by Roman Kroitor and Graeme Ferguson in their capacity as co-founders of the imax Corporation (then known as Multiscreen), the film was designed for a technology being invented as it was shot. The prototype imax camera was, according to its producers’ estimate, able to provide only about 5 per cent of the images in the film – the rest were shot with conventional 70 mm cameras turned on their sides and 35 mm motion-picture cameras.¹ There was, until very shortly beforeTiger Child’s completion,...

  14. 10 EPHEMERAL GODARD: VIDEO, HISTORY, AND QUEBEC
    (pp. 184-195)
    Jerry White

    WHAT REMAINS OF the adventures of Jean-Luc Godard in Quebec is “ephemeral.” But one of the assumptions bringing the chapters in this book together is that “ephemeral” is by no means the same thing as “unimportant” or “mere curiosity,” and so it is with Godard and Quebec. In this chapter, I will both tell the story of Godard’s significant trips to Quebec¹ – a trip to Abitibi in 1968 and a series of lectures at Concordia University in 1978 – and also explain how the pieces of video that remain – which are either so fragile as to be illegible...

  15. 11 OUT HERE: FEELING BAD, FEELING GAY IN MICHEL AUDY’S LUC OU LA PART DES CHOSES AND CREVER À VINGT ANS
    (pp. 196-209)
    Micky Storey and Jason B. Crawford

    FORMING PART OF a larger trend that runs through contemporary Anglo-American queer studies, Ann Cvetkovich is concerned with examining queer affect – the complex of feelings and emotions that arise from a uniquely queer experience of the world – and the role it might play in constructing archives that may be drawn on in the creation of alternative public histories and cultures. Her focus on depression – or what she, in typically personal and less clinical terms, refers to as “feeling bad” – is particularly relevant in the present context, for the two films of Michel Audy we discuss in...

  16. 12 AGAINST EPHEMERALITY: THE CBC’S ARCHIVAL TURN, 1989–96
    (pp. 210-231)
    Jennifer VanderBurgh

    EPHEMERALITY IS OFTEN a question of value. That which is valued tends to be saved, while everything else is left to entropy, deterioration, and other forms of degradation and loss. In ascribing value to objects, archives take steps to conserve what would otherwise disappear. But since understandings of value are discursive and changeable, what factors determine whether objects are archived? How, in practice, do potential artefacts go from being ephemeral to being considered worthy of archiving?

    One story of value’s relationship to ephemerality is illustrated in the archival trajectory of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s (cbc) broadcast content in the early...

  17. 13 SEEING THEN, HEARING NOW: AUDIOVISUAL COUNTERPOINT AT THE INTERSECTION OF DUAL PRODUCTION CONTEXTS IN LARRY KENT’S HASTINGS STREET
    (pp. 232-255)
    Randolph Jordan

    LARRY KENT’S FIRST film,Hastings Street(1962/2007), stands as a unique marker of the shifting dynamics of Vancouver as a major filmmaking centre, drawing the line from its roots in the ephemeral bouts of foreign production in the early twentieth century, through the emergence of local independent filmmaking in the 1960s and ’70s, and into its current and relatively stable identity as Hollywood North. Originally titledThe Street, Kent financed the short film out of his own pocket, shooting silent on location in 1962 with help from his theatre classmates at the University of British Columbia. Lacking resources for post-production,...

  18. 14 PRESERVING EPHEMERAL ABORIGINAL FILMS AND VIDEOS: THE ARCHIVAL PRACTICES OF VTAPE AND ISUMATV
    (pp. 256-272)
    Katherine Quanz

    ABORIGINAL FILMMAKING IN Canada underwent a massive transformation in the early 1990s when a series of programs was developed to promote the production of media by Aboriginal peoples.² This movement changed the definition of “Aboriginal film” from films about Aboriginals to films created by Aboriginals. While the National Film Board (nfb) of Canada’s involvement in the movement through the creation of Studio One has been well-documented elsewhere, equally important, but less well known, are Vtape and isumatv’s efforts to collect, preserve, and exhibit Aboriginal ephemeral films and videos. By overlooking the contributions of these two organizations to Indigenous filmmaking in...

  19. 15 PRESERVING/BURNING: KARL LEMIEUX’S FILM PERFORMANCES
    (pp. 273-283)
    André Habib

    MY FOCUS IN this chapter is on the performances and film works of Montreal-based artist Karl Lemieux, but I wish to begin with a long preamble in order to better frame the context, pertinence, and originality of his work, which in many ways is both a symptom of his time and of film history writ-large.

    We usually acknowledge that the history of film preservation is closely tied to the reality of film’s disappearance, of film’s material decay and the long history of its neglect and destruction. It is well-known that the urgency of archiving film on a large scale only...

  20. 16 FILMS COLLECTING DUST AND DUSTY FILM COLLAGES: EPHEMERALITY AT WORK
    (pp. 284-311)
    Gerda Cammaer

    LOOKING AT FILM history by focusing on the materiality of film, its ephemerality, and the trace it leaves behind is a fairly new approach. These ideas stem from the period when, coinciding with the one hundredth anniversary of cinema in 1995, the debates about the latest so-called death of film became a central concern in film scholarship, a period that began with the digital revolution. In hindsight, this “revolution” was nothing more than a technical “evolution”; that is, while it did not necessarily cause major changes in film language, the arrival of the digital age has resulted in a major...

  21. 17 SAMPLING HERITAGE: THE NFB’S DIGITAL ARCHIVE
    (pp. 312-325)
    Zöe Druick

    ACROSS THE COMPUTER screen lurch digitized images of the jumpy edits of an aged 16 mm black and white film. Identified as a part of the Faces of Canada series of the 1950s, the film features a mad scientist/artist, an immigrant to Canada, who is working on a machine that broadcasts “organic television” that will show Canada to itself. Nothing seems quite right. Are we in a dream? A man keeps repeating “aurora” and “Ademi” as we learn about his invention of a new Theremin-like electro-musical machine, a combination of the Internet and the Telharmonium called the Telemelodium. It can...

  22. 18 MEMORY, MAGNETIC TAPE, AND DEATH BY POPCORN: THE TRAGEDY OF THE WINNIPEG JETS
    (pp. 326-350)
    Andrew Burke

    THE WORK OF THE the art collective L’Atelier national du Manitoba (2005–08) springs in part from the fortuitous discovery of a cache of de-accessioned tapes in a dumpster outside the offices of ctv Winnipeg. These tapes, jettisoned as the station was in the process of moving to its new downtown location, contained hours of footage of local news events, commercials, and current affairs programming stretching back to the late 1970s. The collective, spearheaded by core members Matthew Rankin, Mike Maryniuk, and Walter Forsberg, used this discarded archive material, along with other scraps gleaned from yard sale vhs discoveries and...

  23. ILLUSTRATIONS
    (pp. 351-358)
  24. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 359-376)
  25. CONTRIBUTORS
    (pp. 377-380)
  26. INDEX
    (pp. 381-401)