Close Up

3 - 4 December 2018: Up North & Underground: Canadian Alternative Film


Andrew Gutman presents the second half of a programme of under-screened classics of the Canadian underground film scene of the 1990s. Canadian cinema is one that is all too often lost in the shadow of its neighbour to the south, consumed into a single monolithic "North American Cinema" and granted little in the way of distinguishing qualities. But upon closer inspection, Canada's national cinema reveals distinctive and decidedly weird edges and barbs that suggest an original and unreproducible identity. In these early films by acclaimed directors Guy Maddin and Atom Egoyan, the formally and narratively adventurous side of this national cinema is revealed, offering two inventive tales of Canadians sent to the far-flung corners of the globe.

Guy Maddin
1990 | 83 min | B/W | 35mm

During a frequently overlooked period of military history, Canadian soldiers were sent to remote corners of Russia to resist German aggression in World War I and stave off the Bolshevik revolution. One such soldier, Lt. John Boles, is sent to the isolated northern region of Archangel, where he is surprised to find Veronkha, a woman that so resembles his late wife that he forgets she has died at all. What follows is a web of amnesia, mistaken identity, and misplaced passion that threatens to upstage the war being fought in the background. read more

Atom Egoyan
1993 | 73 min | Colour | Digital

A photographer travels to Armenia to capture images of churches for a calendar shoot, accompanied by his wife, who speaks the language. While there, he sees her grow closer and closer to their local guide, as he watches from afar, always behind the camera and out of view. Later, at home in Toronto, he engages in a series of strange, ritualistic dates with women with some connection, direct or strained, with the country he just left. read more