Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Watch December 6 on (and around) December 6

It is that time of year, again... With a mere two weeks until this year's National Day of Remembrance on Violence Against Women, I've made "December 6" public on YouTube. It is my intention to leave it there until the end of December. Feel free to share!

For anyone looking to rent or buy a version for a memorial screening, please contact V-Tape (http://www.vtape.org/rentals.htm). Community & not-for-profit groups will be offered a 50% discount.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Polytechnique, The Movie

With the anniversary of December 6 looming once again, and Denis Villeneuve's feature film, "Polytechnique," screening on TV tonight, I thought it was high time to post my thoughts on that film.

"Polytechnique" is well crafted, beautifully shot, and captures the essence of the events of December 6, 1989 but is, without question, hard to watch (something that probably comes as no surprise). I have read some reviews that claim "Polytechnqiue" fails to add anything to our understanding of events, some that claim that it is politically correct feminist propaganda, and some that even claim it is too male oriented.

To the first claim, I agree... with an important caveat. I do not think the film was mean to be a psychoanalysis of the shooter or the events, so the film does not pretend to provide answers to questions raised that day. Instead, it is a raw portrayal of emotion and devastation that possibly raises more questions than it answers.

Regarding the claim that it is only for politically correct feminists... I doubt it. But having been described that way myself on occasion, I may not be the best person to refute that argument. However, the fact that the final claim exists at all, suggests to me that "Polytechnique" does not lean towards the feminist extreme.

As for the male perspective of "Polytechnique," I can see it (and not just because the film was written and directed by men), but I don't think it's a bad thing. In fact, in the aftermath of the massacre in 1989, the story that hit me the hardest was told by one of the men who had been ordered out of the classroom, knowing that his female classmates were unlikely to survive. He struggled with his actions even though he was ordered out at gunpoint, even though he would probably be dead himself if he had refused. His survivor's guilt was overwhelming. And I could relate to that survivor's guilt in a way that I couldn't let myself relate to the women who were killed in that classroom. Such survivor's guilt was also the focus of Colleen Murphy's award-winning play about the massacre, "The December Man." It's a way into the tragedy that we can all access. A hard way, but an accessible one.

Evalyn Parry's spoken word, which provides the backbone for the short film "December 6," provides another way in to this tragedy. An approach that is both accessible and surprisingly hopeful. It's because of that hope that I first approached Evalyn about using her spoken word for my film. And it's because she fought to maintain that hope as we expanded the spoken word to include additional elements for the film, that the film itself became inspirational.

For the 20th anniversary of the Montreal Massacre, I was at a screening of "Polytechnique" hosted by a university women's group. They preceded the feature with "December 6" and followed it with a discussion period. During that discussion, I was struck by the number of people quoting directly from "December 6" while discussing both the feature film and the events themselves. It felt as though Evalyn Parry had given viewers the language they had previously lacked for just such a discussion. I was also moved by the number of people who came up to me at the end of the evening and thanked me for showing "December 6" and telling me how inspired they were by it. It seems hard to believe that one could make an inspiring film based on the events of the Montreal Massacre but thanks in no small part to Evalyn Parry's words (and the incredible women who danced in the film), my short film was able to offer a glimmer of hope that the feature film couldn't (at least not if they were going to be faithful to true events). For that reason alone, I now highly recommend showing "December 6" alongside "Polytechnique."

So if you are organizing a screening of "Polytechnique," consider adding "December 6" to the evening to provide some balance and give your audience something hopeful to hold onto when the night ends. The film is available for distribution through V-Tape.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Stolen Sisters

This photo is part of a proposal that I submitted with Sandra Lamouche, Hoop Dancer from "December 6," to create a silent poetry dance film for imagineNATIVE's Stolen Sisters Digital Initiative call. In "14 (for December 6)," the spoken word piece that creates the backbone of the film "December 6," Evalyn Parry delivers a line: "Women's bodies farmed out, used up, disappeared." It's a line that haunts me and was part of the inspiration in the creation of this proposal. Depressing statistic in the body graffiti, but I'm pleased with the aesthetic of the image.

Monday, June 6, 2011

This is what democracy looks like

Although I normally reserve this blog for posts directly related to the film or the Montreal Massacre, leaving more tangentially related posts for the "December 6" facebook page, I have decided to make an exception.

As many readers probably know by now, on Friday, June 3rd, during Harper's Throne Speech, a young page by the name of Brigette DePape held up a sign saying "Stop Harper." Why am I making an exception for this action? Because, to be honest, I was losing the faith.

Confession time: Had I made "December 6" without collaborating with spoken word artist Evalyn Parry, it would have ended up being a cynical film reflecting on how little progress has been made towards women's equality in the past 20 years. I had been under the illusion that we had come further, until I did my research for the film. That research had left me rather depressed and without answers. And my encounters with some of the younger generation of so-called third wave feminists did little to improve my hopes. It is only thanks to Evalyn that the film ended up being optimistic and empowering. (My eternal thanks, Evalyn!)

On top of that, I've also been feeling depressed about Canadian politics and the apathy of Canadian voters (or lack of voters... only 61.4% of eligible voters bothered to exercise their voting rights). The Harper majority felt like the nail in our political coffin. Conservatives won 54.2% of the seats with only 39.6% per cent of the votes, one of the least legitimate majorities in Canadian history. Yet Harper keeps referring to his "majority mandate." Even having a minority government failed to keep Harper's Conservatives accountable. I worry about what happens now that they have a majority.

Cynicism, depression and mounting frustration at the apparent inability to affect change are not things I like to admit to, but things I've been feeling nonetheless.

Then along comes a 21-year-old woman, a member of a supposedly apathetic generation, who is a talented performance artist (see video below) with a degree in international development and globalization from the University of Ottawa. A young woman willing to give up her a highly coveted job as a Senate page to make a statement that Canada could not ignore. And her quiet act of civil disobedience has gone viral. Many people have been claiming that her action was inappropriate, that she had been disrespectful of Parliament, but I beg to differ. And, amazingly to me, a vast number of Canadians (and even people beyond our borders) have also disagreed, staunchly defending the "little page that could... and did."

So thank you, Brigette DePape, for keeping the faith. And for restoring mine.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Artivist Film Festival

Artivist Film Festival: Raising Awareness for Humanity, Animals, Children and the Environment through International Advocate Films.

"December 6" has been selected to screen at the Artivist Film Festival, which runs from July 8-10, 2011 at the historic Egyptian Theater in Hollywood. The name Artivist is a combination of “artist” and “activist,” and their mission is to strengthen the voice of international advocate artists, while raising public awareness for social global causes.

I wish I could attend and see what other "artivists" around the world are creating. But I intend to continue making films that fit this criteria, so maybe I'll have a chance to go to the festival with one of them in the future!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Rosie Award Nominees Announced

The Alberta Media Production Industries Association (formerly the Alberta Motion Picture Industries Association) has announced the nominees for the 37th Annual Alberta Film & Television Awards, celebrating excellence and outstanding achievement in Albertan film, television and new media. Each winner receives a prestigious Rosie Award... And "December 6" has been nominated for Best Music Video!

The 2011 awards will be presented on Saturday, May 28th 2011 in Edmonton. Wish us luck!

Friday, February 18, 2011

World of Women Online Film Festival

Watch "December 6" at the World of Women Online Film Festival, hosted by IndieFlix from February 18 - March 7, 2011. And don't forget to vote!

Or, if you're in Australia, attend the WOW Festival in person at the Parliament House Theatre on Wednesday, March 9 in Sydney. While you're at the festival, I highly recommend checking out "Lani's Story" on Thursday, March 10.