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While there have been regular individual success stories from Canada over the last several decades (Atom Egoyan, Guy Maddin, Lea Pool, David Cronenberg), one must go back to the fertile period of the 1960s to recall a historical moment when international attention was focused on Canada as a whole, particularly on the work of French Canadian directors. A current, dynamic generation of new Canadian filmmakers, dispersed across the continent, may well constitute a “new wave” in the history of Canadian cinema. Eschewing many of the familiar themes attributed to Canadian film (“Snow-shoes and Strange Sex,” as one recent history book characterizes it), this collection of six new films tends toward interiorized, often spiritual investigations of the self. Without exception, each film in the series--documentary and fiction alike--boasts striking visuals and an assortment of characters that, once encountered, are unlikely to be soon forgotten.

February 15 (Friday) 7 pm
February 17 (Sunday) 7 pm


Directed by Denis Villeneuve
Canada 2000 , 35mm, color, 88 min.
With Marie-Josée Croze, Jean-Nicolas Verreault, Stéphanie Morgenstern
French with English subtitles

A fish is the unlikely narrator of this urban folktale about material worth, personal loss, and the possibility of redemption. Bibiane, the beautiful and prosperous issue of an influential family, runs a chain of high-fashion boutiques. After a series of personal and business setbacks she drives home drunk one evening and fatally injures an old Norwegian fisherman. Her life degenerates into chaos as she desperately tries to come to terms with her guilt and, ultimately, finds the possibility for a second chance. The breathtaking imagery and haunting narrative of this unique work won Maelström five Genie awards, including Best Picture, and best Canadian film awards at both the 2000 Montreal and Toronto Film festivals. 

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Director Robin Schlaht in Person at both screenings
February 15 (Friday) 9 pm 
February 16 (Saturday) 7 pm


Directed by Robin Schlaht
Canada 2001 , 35mm, color, 89 min.
With Lothaire Bluteau, Vanessa Martinez, Wendy Anderson

A benedictine monk conflicted by questions of faith and purpose, a sullen girl of nineteen who is struggling to define herself, and a thirty-something woman seeking refuge from a troubled relationship with her boyfriend meet at a monastery retreat. The dynamics of their relationships impact their private searches for meaning and identity as the rituals of everyday life create an aura of quiet, contemplative strength. Since winning the Saskatchewan Showcase Award for best student film in 1993, Robin Schlaht has made three documentary films. Solitude is his first dramatic feature. 

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February 16 (Saturday) 9 pm
February 19 (Tuesday) 9 pm

Life Without Death

Directed by Frank Cole
Canada 2000, 16mm, b/w and color, 83 min.

Following the death of his grandfather, documentary filmmaker Frank Cole decided to take an arduous 4,400-mile, year-long solo trip across the Sahara desert. Alone with his camels and an old Bolex camera set on a timer to capture his journey, he grapples with deadly heat, shifting sands, bandits, civil war, unreliable maps, confusion, and loneliness. The film intercuts color footage that chronicles the progression of his trek with sudden, black-and-white scenes of his grandfather’s deathbed. The score by Richard Horowitz, with ethereal vocals by Sussan Deyhim, provides striking contrast to the cool objectivity of this “anti-travelogue.”

February 22 (Friday) 7 pm
February 23 (Saturday) 9 pm


Directed by Peter Lynch
Canada 2001, 35mm, color, 90 min.

Steve mann is a self-professed cyborg. He builds wearable computers in an attempt to alter his perception of reality and reclaim the increasingly mediated space of visuality. Among his inventions is a small “eye-tap” camera that turns technology outward, providing direct feed to a Web site that allows us see the world through Mann’s psyche. Described by Lynch as a combination of “Professor Gadget and Michael Moore,” Mann is both inventor and provocateur. While aware of the ethical and political repercussions of his creations, he questions the boundaries between public and private space, between body and machine. Documentary maker Peter Lynch specializes in trenchant portraits of unique individuals.

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February 22 (Friday) 9 pm
February 24 (Sunday) 7 pm


Directed by Terrance Odette
Canada 1999, 35mm, color, 87 min.
With Gary Farmer, Stephen Ouimette, Tina Keeper

In what might be called an example of Canadian neorealism, this charming, minimalist film tells the story of two homeless men trying to survive the night in bitter-cold Winnipeg. The Man (well-known Stratford Festival actor Ouimette) has lost his place in a psychiatric half-way house; Ben (Farmer, of Smoke Signals and Dead Man fame) has lost his I.D. and can’t claim his welfare check. The two meet at a church drop-in center and together try to raise money for cigarettes and a flophouse room by selling a space heater of dubious provenance. A bittersweet examination of the Catch-22 of poverty, Heater is music-video and television director Terrance Odette’s first feature film.

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Director Guylaine Dionne in Person at February 23rd Screening
February 23 (Saturday) 7 pm
February 26 (Tuesday) 9 pm

The Three Madeleines (Les Fantômes des troit Madeleines)

Directed by Guylaine Dionne
Canada 2000, 35mm, b/w, 90 min.
With Sylvie Drapeau, France Arbour, Isadora Galwey
French with English subtitles

On a road trip through French Canada, three generations of women--all named Madeleine--get to know one another as a host of familial and societal themes unfold, full of poetry and hope. The grandmother, Mado, meets the daughter whom she had given up for adoption years earlier, unleashing a passionate recollection of her own youth and a long-lost love. The daughter, Marie-Madeleine, is a thoroughly modern and strong-minded woman; the encounter with her mother allows her to face unacknowledged fears and embrace new possibilities. Madeleine, the seventeen-year-old granddaughter in love for the first time, finds strength and comfort in thinking about her German father, whom she has never met but whose voice she imagines. Dionne’s first feature film, The Three Madeleines premiered at the prestigious Directors’ Fortnight at the 2000 Cannes Film Festival. 

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