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arts/culture

Genius Within: The Inner Life of Glenn Gould

An enigmatic musical poet, world-renowned pianist Glenn Gould continues to captivate twenty-seven years after his untimely death. His inimitable music and writing reveal and insightful world-view that we are still unravelling – his complex recording technologies, including overdubbing, was unprecedented. Though there have been many documentaries about Gould, most are distracted by his eccentricities, focusing on the pills, gloves, and scarves while missing the man and message behind the music. Genius Within: The Inner Life of Glenn Gould pierces through the myths, revealing the man beneath the icon. Genius Within: The Inner Life of Glenn Gould weaves together an unprecedented array of never before seen footage of Gould, photographs and excerpts from his private home recordings and diaries plus personal interviews with Gould’s most intimate friends and lovers, some who have never spoken about him publicly before, to reconstruct his thoughts on music, art, society, love, and life. In our current media saturated world, where information trumps knowledge, there’s a profound need for someone who cuts through the static and speaks to us with a clear, candid, and timeless tone. That is one of Glenn Gould’s most profound gifts.

Twice Upon A Garden

Created during the 1930s, not far from the 49th parallel, Les Jardins de Métis are unlike any other. Situated at the confluence of the Mitis, the legendary salmon river, and the majestic St. Lawrence estuary, they are protected by the site's unique geography and microclimate. This botanical paradise stems from the labours of Elsie Reford, who in 1926 decided to transform her Gaspé fishing camp into gardens. Today, they display some 3,000 species and varieties of indigenous and exotic plants along a kilometre and a half of pathways. Every year, tens of thousands of visitors come to see Elsie's gardens, which have constantly evolved over the past eighty years, as well as the International Garden Festival, which was founded by her great grandson Alexander, and which celebrated its 10th edition in 2009. A film on both the art of nature and the nature of art, Il était deux fois un jardin provides an inside look at these gardens and their growers. We see the plants throughout the seasons: during a memorable winter blizzard, in torrential rain, in serene summer nights, in the last rays of autumn sunsets. We also get a glimpse of several artists as they set up their installations for the festival.

Painting Daddy

Painting Daddy is a daughter’s concrete poem filmed in moving images about her artist father, Jan Burka.

Paul Quarrington Life in Music

PAUL QUARRINGTON: LIFE IN MUSIC is a documentary about a celebrated artist whose sudden diagnosis of a terminal illness leads him to ask the universal question, what would you do? He is driven to squeeze every ounce of creative juice from his multi-dimensional career – writer, musician, filmmaker - in whatever amount of time he has left. By bearing witness to the most intimate moments of his creative process, through to big moments on the public stage, Quarrington’s final journey provides testament to the power of a perfect song to provide lasting connections to humanity. His is a story that will inspire every viewer to re-connect with their creativity and truly engage in the sweet, bitter, hilarious or poignant moments life has to offer. On-screen conversations with some of the most important people in Quarrington’s life, including Roddy Doyle, Dave Bidini, Nino Ricci, Wayson Choy and Martin Worthy; with dynamic performances from his band Porkbelly Futures, The Rheostatics, Dan Hill, Joel Quarrington, Tony Quarrington, Joe Hall and many more. Inspired by the book “Cigar Box Banjo: A Life in Music and Words” by Paul Quarrington, published by Greystone Books, May 29, 2010. The film includes original live performances of music composed expressly for the film, as well as songs composed during his illness, many of which are included on the CD “Paul Quarrington: The Songs,” Paul’s only full-length solo recording, available through Cordova Bay.

SHAMELESS: The ART of Disability

Art, activism and disability are the starting point for what unfolds as a funny and intimate portrait of five surprising individuals. Director Bonnie Sherr Klein (Not a Love Story, and Speaking Our Peace) has been a pioneer of women’s cinema and an inspiration to a generation of filmmakers around the world. SHAMELESS: the ART of Disability marks Klein's return to a career interrupted by a catastrophic stroke in 1987. Always the activist, she now turns the lens on the world of disability culture, and ultimately, the transformative power of art. Joining Klein are a group of artists with diverse (dis)abilities. Humourist David Roche is taking his one man show, The Church of 80% Sincerity, to New York’s off-Broadway. Poet and scholar Catherine Frazee is navigating a jam-packed schedule of teaching and speaking engagements. Dancer, choreographer and impresario Geoff McMurchy is organizing KickstART, an international festival of disability art. Sculptor and writer Persimmon Blackbridge is creating mixed media portraits from “meaningful junk”. Klein gathers these artists for a pyjama party where they take a subversive look at Hollywood stereotypes of people with disabilities: The Monster, The Saint, The Psycho, the Poor Little Crippled Girl, etc. The artists decide to turn the tables, making a pact to meet a year later at the KicksART Festival with the intent of creating their own images of disability. The film tracks this motley gang of five from the BC Gulf Islands, to Nova Scotia and south to San Francisco while they create and then present their multi-faceted self-representations. As we get to know each of these remarkable people driven by a passion for art and transformation, the everyday complexities and unexpected richness of life with a disability are exposed. Packed with humour and raw energy, SHAMELESS: the ART of Disability is a revelation of a film.

Shift Focus

Rodrigo Moreno seems to have it all. He’s a wedding photographer who spends much of his professional life shooting lavish destination weddings where money is no object. He has a beautiful wife, a nice home and two mini dogs. Yet, something is missing. Rodrigo is haunted by memories of his troubled youth in an inner city neighbourhood popularly called ‘The Jungle’. He returns with the idea of finding some answers and starts a photography club to provide a creative outlet for the young people whom he befriends. In a surprising turn of events, the club catches the attention of Teresa, an animal lover who saved a captured monkey in Peru. She takes him to the real jungle – the Amazon. Here Rodrigo meets Carlos, a biologist, devoted to preserving the rainforest and Ronaldo, a young boy who is crazy about his butterflies. Rodrigo’s stunning lens captures the people, and a way of life on the brink of extinction. Shift Focus is one man’s photographic journey that gives permanency to people in two very different jungles.

Happy Birthday

This hour-long film takes the viewer on an extraordinary journey through each of the turning points of our life cycle. In a series of unique short films, fading in and out, our ten characters are captured through vignettes on their birthdays. Beginning with a birth and ending with a Centenarian survivor of the Armenian genocide, it examines the extraordinary ebb and flow of life. Each Birthday provides us a unique window into an individual; it’s a day to celebrate with family and friends, but also a day to take stock of where we are- and where we are going. It’s a time of cakes and presents, and of self-reflections and examination. You will see yourself in these films, as a child, teenager or in the elderly person you may become. A toddler looks around with wonder at this big world he has entered into, while an eight-year-old has already invented a world of her own. A fifteen-year-old understands that she may not live a long life and a twenty-one year old believes anything is possible. A thirty-year old woman searches for someone to spend the rest of her life with as fifty-year old man comes to terms with his role as an outsider. A retired accountant defies gravity with his longtime dance and a native elder is remembered by the people who love her. Their stories are simultaneously unique and universal; they are incomplete and leave us with a sense of wonder and, depending on our age, we remember, recognize or look ahead. Happy Birthday is a lyrical documentary, a love song to life in all its wondrous phases.

Notman's Camera

From 1856 to the time of his death in 1891, William Notman ran the most important photographic studio in Canada. It is said that he is the most successful photographer in all of North America. In 1873 alone he produces 14,000 images. Some are treasured private possessions. Others are reproduced in the thousands and are sold around the world. He came to Canada as a fugitive from the law and quickly built a thriving business in the then ‘new art’ of photography. He wanted to be a successful businessman. What he became was the architect of one of North America’s most important historical records. An entrepreneur and master craftsman, he also trained a generation of Canadian and American photographers who ran his satellite studios in Halifax, St. John, Boston, Albany, and New York. He captured the social life of Canadian and international elite as well as the family life of both the rich and the ordinary. He artfully recorded the settlement of the west, the growth of bustling cities and the fading of a way of life as aboriginal peoples moved onto reserves. Thousands of men and women, both famous and ordinary, live on for us through William Notman’s work. Notman’s Canada evokes the social and cultural life of Montreal and Canada in the last half of the 19th century. The photographs themselves form the main visual source, supplemented with original shooting including minimal recreation in Montreal and other historically significant locations. Filmed interviews with Notman enthusiasts and experts provide context. Diaries, letters, and songs of the time are also used to bring alive an era in which the photograph was an exciting new medium of enormous social and cultural importance.

Joseph Giunta: A Silent Triumph

A Silent Triumph is the story of the frailty, as well as the triumph, of the human spirit, of the steadfastness of relationship and the undeniability of true creativity. At the heart of the story is a reclusive artist, a house full of remarkable paintings and a woman who is slowly but surely losing her mind. It is a story that leaves us feeling enriched by an encounter of a rare and special kind, reassured that such humanity still exists in this often harsh world of ours. Eighty-nine year-old Joseph Giunta lives in a tumble-down old townhouse sandwiched between blocks of towering modern highrises in the heart of Montreal's hustle and bustle. Except for the occasional outing to the bank or for groceries, Joseph passes his days within these four walls with his Alzheimer's-afflicted wife, Helen.
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