The newest thread in the lavish tapestry that (so we’re told) is Toronto’s film scene, the Ryerson School of Image Arts Documentary Now festival starts tomorrow, June 11, in gallery spaces across the city. Featuring exhibitions in media still, moving and interactive, Doc/Now gives MFA students in Ryerson University’s Documentary Media program an opportunity to showcase their thesis film, photography and new media projects.
The Doc/Now photography exhibits open tomorrow at the Ryerson Gallery (80 Spadina Ave., Suite 305), Lennox Contemporary (12 Ossington Ave.), Gallery 1313 (1313 Queen West) and Toronto Image/Works (80 Spadina Ave., Suite 207), following an opening reception and all the other requisite pomp and circumstance. The program’s film and video screenings don’t happen until June 22, when Doc/Now takes over the NFB’s John Spotton Theatre at 150 John St.
Lifelines, screening on June 22, contemplates (“without sentimentality,” maintains the press material) issues of embodied experience, spiritual transcendence and finding home. From Ernie Kestler’s investigation into the experiences of an aging generation of Holocaust survivors in Grains of Salt, to Kate Schneider’s survey of the devastating sub-prime mortgage crisis in Valley of Dry Bones, the Lifelines program promises to probe the most deep-seated issues of identity and our at-times tenuous placement with the world around us.
Screening June 23, Interrogations aims to destabilize the imagined institutions of patriarchy, masculinity and heteronormativity. In Survival of the Fabulous, filmmaker Mike Sage amusingly entertains the possibility of the “gay gene,” a move which allows him to more seriously engage the age-old nature/nurture debate of identity formation. Lyndall Musselman’s nostalgia trip, Who’s Emma: Punk, Politics and Place remembers the late-90s heyday when the anarcho-punk subculture worked diligently to turn over many of the more oppressive social customs.
With artists working across media exploring everything from the experience of female boxers and American female soldiers, to Holocaust survival, the Pakistani-Canadian diaspora and the so-called “gay gene,” the inaugural Documentary Now festival promises to bring something new and relevant to Toronto’s already vibrant film culture. Whether it can succeed with events such as the CFC Worldwide Short Film Festival, or Cinematheque Ontario’s Otto Preminger retrospective series, also vying for the attention (and admission receipts) of Toronto cinephiles, remains to be seen.
For more information on Doc/Now, including an exhibtion calendar, head to the Documentary Now homepage.