Prairie Tales 5

Tuesday, November 25, 2003


Written by Jacquelyn Brioux

Around 8pm this past Friday (November 21st), Ed Video Media Arts Centre held a screening of Prairie Tales 5, the third major screening of their fall season. The Prairie Tales production has been organized over the past five years by The Alberta Media Arts Alliance Society, whose main initiative is to promote Alberta’s emerging talent in the medium of independent film and video; a promising culture in Canada which has no doubt been seriously overlooked.

Upon reaching the top of the narrow and steep staircase that led to Ed Video’s 16 “A” downtown Guelph address, I was welcomed by Vish Khanna (Ed Video’s programming coordinator), who later offered that I help myself not to ‘/some chips/ and/or refreshments,’ but rather, ‘/a chip/ and/or refreshments.’ I looked down at the table, with its three small plates of various types of chips, and opted not to indulge myself in the potential tasty goodness of said chip, but leave it for the other guests. I had a laugh, as did the others (whom were offered the same) and surely we all appreciated and enjoyed the humour of Vish’s gesture and his attempt to ‘party-up’ the event.

A moderate group of people showed up for the screening – roughly eighteen or so, which was just less than enough to comfortably seat in Ed Video’s small modernized viewing room; equipped with a projector, screen, black padded fold-up chairs, and quality sounding speakers, it was the near-perfect setting for an intimate evening of independent Canadian film and video.

The screening of Prairie Tales 5 included a collection of twelve rather engaging short films and videos (see bottom of review for list). The screening lasted about an hour and a half, with films and videos ranging anywhere from two to eighteen minutes in length. The extremely diverse collection offered by Prairie Tales 5 provided an entertaining evening of scattered emotions, feelings, and thoughts; ultimately demonstrating just how talented and creative western Canada’s media artists can be. It is particularly this aspect which makes it hard for viewers to affix an all-encompassing label to Alberta based media art; but perhaps that’s where their greatness lies – in diversity.

The longest film of the screening was a silent film by John Kerr entitled, “The Emperor;” which told the unfortunate story of Emilio Picariello and Forence Losandro’s hanging during the early 1920’s. By using an antique hand wound camera, Kerr was effectively able to capture a realistic depiction of the time period, while also providing an adaptation of the story that resembled Charlie Chaplin’s signature silent film style of wit, humour, and relentless antics, but with Kerr’s own added dramatic twist.

I couldn’t help but laugh all throughout Amalie Atkins film, “Shoot the Duck;” as I sat there watching the Mr. Bean-like trials and tribulations of a young woman as she attempted to master the fine art of roller skating. With each pound of frustration as her fists hit the roller rink floor, the pulsating sound echoed throughout the room, producing an exaggerated effect that made it all the more humourous. In the end she did succeed, and a slow-mo of her rolling across the floor doing a ‘shoot the duck’ position reassured us that anything is possible; you just need to practice hard, go to sleep with your roller skates on, and wear a vibrant coloured matching outfit while you skate.

If you were looking for a more abstract medium, you might have enjoyed Richard Reeves film, “1:1;” which offered a fascinating two and a half minute collection of synchronized images and sounds. Or, if you were looking for an alternative musical great, my personal favourite, you might have preferred Dave Morgan’s mini-musical noir, “Black Angus.” I sat, watched, listened, and was musically entertained right from the beginning, as singer Wendy McNiell serenaded her way across the screen with her accordion and black canine friend (both of which happened to sporadically reappear throughout the five minute film).

There were also a number of dramatic pieces; one in particular – “Taking Flight,” a profound eleven and a half minute film by Lindsay McIntyre, which actually instilled feelings of pain and fear in me while I sat there observing the imagined rape of a woman’s young daughter. In addition to its compelling narrative and acting, as well as its complimentary musical score, the film applied some quality filming techniques; including ‘optical printing,’ and underwater ‘super 8’ footage, which certainly added to the film’s realism.

As a result of the diversity of the screening, some films and videos might have been perceived as greater than others; I felt that way about a few, but again, that’s the event’s beauty – it is able to uniquely appeal to such a large audience while assuring that one is still able go home with discourse and a smile.

It’s not everyday that you are given the opportunity to experience some of western Canada’s visionary media arts culture; so why not reconsider your weekly outing to Cineplex Odeon and go serve your night a dual purpose: indulge yourself in an intimate evening of superb entertainment and help support Canada’s promising independent media arts industry.

The following is the chronological order of the films and videos (and their artists) as they were presented in the screening of Prairie Tales 5:

1. “Girl’s Heart Explodes” – by: Rebecca Fairless (2.5 min. Video)
2. “Transit” – by: Annemarie Nakagawa (8.5 min. Video)
3. “The Emperor” – by: John Kerr (18 min. Film)
4. “1:1” – by: Richard Reeves (2.5 min. Film)
5. “Vacancy” – by: Jennifer Yates (10 min. Film)
6. “Shoot the Duck” – by: Amalie Atkins (7 min. Video)
7. “The Butterfly Effect” – by: Kay Burns (2 min. Video)
8. “Last Night” – by: Tim Folkmann (7 min. Film)
9. “Rolling” – by: Kelly Service (6 min. FILM)
10. “Torretta Eccellente (Super Tower)” – by: Tom Bernier (4.5 min. Film)
11. “Taking Flight” – by: Lindsay McIntyre (11.5 min. Film)
12. “Black Angus” – by: Dave Morgan (5 min. Film)

For further information about Ed Video Media Arts Centre and their upcoming events you can visit their website here

For further information about Prairie Tales 5 and The Alberta Media Arts Alliance Society you can visit their website here

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