Volume 2 | Issue 9 | Autumn-Winter 2005


Volume 2 - Issue 9 - Editorial

This issue of Vertigo marks a number of significant changes in the magazine. First off, we are very pleased to dedicate over half of the publication to an exploration of contemporary Canadian film and video-making. Prompted by curiosity as to where the singular preoccupations of that territory’s moving image culture might be heading, it was decided to source the words, images, opinions and provocations of a number of the country’s most  interesting film-makers, artists, writers and cultural advocates.
read more



Lost Landscapes, Found Paintings

By Ian Haydn Smith

Described by Jonathan Rosenbaum as the 'master framer of landscapes', James Benning has produced a body of work over three decades that highlights society’s relationship with the environment it inhabits.

Transatlantic Drift

By Holly Aylett

In June this year the British Government signed up to the final draft document for the UNESCO Convention for Cultural Diversity. Few will have ever heard of it since neither the government, nor the press it seems, are interested in publicising the fact.

High Artic, High Definition

By SF Said

From March to May this year, I was in the Canadian Arctic with the makers of Atanarjuat, The Fast Runner, as they shot their new feature, The Journals Of Knud Rasmussen (www.sila.nu). These are some extracts from my production blog...

Film as Subversive Art

By Scott MacDonald

In a sense, Amos Vogel’s Film As a Subversive Art (1974) was a final report on his efforts on behalf of independent cinema at Cinema 16, the film society he and his wife Marcia founded in 1947.

How the Mummy Came out of its Tomb

By Peter Lennon

By the mid ’90s, my documentary The Rocky Road to Dublin (1968) was in danger of disappearing forever. This was not just because, after thirty years, Ireland had still not relented on its hostility towards a film which had attacked its clergy, educational system, censorship and patriotic sportsmen.

A Statement by Peter Watkins on the Background to the Release in the U.K. of Punishment Park, 2005

By Peter Watkins

In late 1965, at the height of a public crisis over The War Game, the BBC increased its attempt to marginalise my name by announcing on the evening news that I had caused the actors in my earlier BBC film, Culloden, to fall in the battle scenes by hiding trip wires in the heather.

Whose Side Are you on?

By Gaylene Gould

Examining the difference in temperature between national cinemas is a little like observing the differences in national dress – much is revealed about culture, how life is lived, expressions, dreams, particularities in love and laughter. Sometimes this is too subtle for translation.

Seeking the Other

By George Clark

The tone of Oberhausen’s 51st gathering in May was set by artistic director Lars Henrik Gass in his opening speech. His critical attack focused on the increasing pressure for Eurocentrism in festivals.  Certain EU funding stipulates that 70% of work shown must be of European origin.

Unrequited in Leipzig

By Gregory Dart

My little book on unrequited love and stalking was all about obsessive passions, unfinished stories, and the peculiar combination of alienation and intrusiveness at the heart of modern romance.

Signal Fires at the Crossroads

By Jem Cohen

New York, 1991: on the day the Gulf War is expected to start, I hear about a protest, a candlelight vigil to take place in front of the United Nations if they start to bomb. I take the train from Brooklyn and get there late. Turning the corner onto the U.N. plaza, I see that out of eight million New Yorkers...

Raul Ruiz and the Book of Disappearances/the Book of Tractions

By Paul Buck

Few film-makers are able to produce work at a fairly prodigious rate, year after year. Many gain brief attention and then, although they continue to work, are barely recognized. Raul Ruiz does not fit this latter pattern.

A Body of Work

By David Rudkin

Carl Dreyer died in the early Spring of 1968, from pneumonia he had contracted while recuperating from a broken hip. Death was peaceful. He lies in the Copenhagen Frederiksberg Cemetery. He had already begun to haunt the cinema that comes after him.

Rai of Hope

By James Norton

It is a little-known fact that Italian television is the finest in the world. In most respects, Italian shows are the most moronic and atrocious to be found anywhere, but amongst this glittering morass one sole programme makes up for all the rest.

Geoffrey Jones: The Rhythm of Film

By Dai Vaughan

One of the founding myths of cinema, now largely forgotten, has the young René Clair emerging from some silent film show and exclaiming, “I have seen a cadence!”...

Don’t Forget the Motor City

By Pepe Petos

Detroit: Ruin of a City is a journey through time and space. Called a documentary road movie by the filmmakers, it takes you in and out of the city and its history, chronicling how the metropolis grew with the car and the automobile industry.

Mapping Difficult Ground

By Sophie Mayer

This September, the first Golden Minbar for Muslim film will be awarded in Kazan, Tatarstan, to one of the 72 competing films from Muslim countries and the Muslim Diaspora.

Subtitles: On the Foreignness of Film

By Chris Darke

The subtitled film is a celluloid curse, a box-office hex. Cinemagoers stay away, firmly believing that cinema should be about seeing a story being told, not about having to read it.

Fault Lines, Changing States

By Lucy Reynolds

The impressive and profusely illustrated Changing States marks the tenth anniversary of Iniva (the Institute of International Visual Arts) and celebrates the remarkable breadth of its achievement over that decade.

John Berger In Silence

By Tereza Stehlikova

He comes to this forest for the same reason that one might visit a church. Here, in the dark temple built of tall spruces and dappled light, he gives himself to stillness. The wood is like a pause in a long heated conversation, a space where one takes a deep breath...

Three Nations Cinema?

By Jerry White

Writing the introduction to an anthology on Canadian cinema is a treacherous undertaking. The notion of what constitutes ‘Canada,’ or ‘Canadian cinema,’ is a particularly contentious area.

From Scene 10 of Stone, Time, Touch by Gariné Torossian

By Arsinée Khanjian

I had never been there, believe it or not; there was absolutely no one on that day. It was a grey and cold day. I was again told that, you know, it’s very impressive when you walk in there. Something happens to you.

The Daniel Langlois Foundation: Where Art Meets Science in the New Technologies

By Holly Aylett

Eight years ago, Daniel Langlois sold Softimage  the software package behind the revolutionary, computer-generated imagery of films such as Jurassic Park, Men in Black and The Matrix  to Microsoft. He then set up The Daniel Langlois Foundation for Art, Science and Technology in Montreal.

Diversity of the Maple

By Richard Mowe

Trying to define Canadian and Quebecois cinema leaves most of the nation’s filmmakers and actors floundering for words. They acknowledge readily a debt to the country’s great documentary tradition as epitomised by John Grierson...

The Brand upon the Brain

By Guy Maddin

Little Guy loves his Winnipeg and everything on it: He loves the bumps in the plaster wall by his bed and traces his fingers over them like a blind man reading Braille love letters; he loves the butter tarts that sit in a plate at the foot of his bed; he loves the patterns of the kitchen wallpaper...

Guy Maddin’s History of Cinema

By Fergal Byrne

Guy Maddin is one of contemporary cinema’s most provocative and idiosyncratic talents. A self-declared cinematic ‘primitivist’, Maddin’s five features and numerous shorts, including the award-winning Heart of the World, ‘the world’s first subliminal melodrama’, resurrect the images and codes of the sielnt era...

Canadian Multiculturalism

By Pierre Anctil

A specifically Canadian variety of multiculturalism appeared in the late 1960s, in a very precise fashion, which tended to reflect the linguistic and cultural sensibilities of the country.

City of Angeles

By Tom Charity

In June 1913, the British Columbia Moving Pictures Act established a provincial censor for the first time. By October, the American studios were issuing complaints about his severity. A particular bone of contention was the depiction of the Stars and Stripes, anathema to the censor.

Quebec Cinema 2005

By Bill Marshall

Quebec cinema is currently on a roll. For the third consecutive year, domestic box-office share for Quebec films will exceed 12%, having reached 13.8% in 2004. Even the figure of 8.8% in 2002 represented a then summit, far above the average 3.8% that obtained during the 1990s.

The Condition of Love

By Peter Mettler

Often I’m asked what it is that I do, or how I do what I do, and often the simplicity of the question takes me aback. I do what most people do – try to survive while at the same time attempting to see clearly, learning and sharing insights that hopefully are useful to the positive growth of others myself.

And our Bodies Will Grow Transparent

By Janet Harbord

The recurring, obsessive thematic of Mike Hoolboom’s work is the question of what images can do for us and what we choose to do with them. His mode of interrogation is not an abstract musing on the subject but an urgent demand to understand the implications of quotidian life...

Fascination (1942-2005)

By Mike Hoolboom

For the past two years I have been living in a ghost story. I had come to the end of a new stretch, three features in three years, a long relationship had foundered, and I knew only that the next project (there was always a next project) had to come from outside.

Performance Indicators

By Richard Mowe

Canadian actress Sarah Polley’s first came to prominence internationally when she appeared in Atom Egoyan’s The Sweet Hereafter. Despite gaining rave reviews and receiving numerous Hollywood offers in the wake of this film, Polley has generally spurned the trappings of mainstream stardom...

Save and Burn in Singapore

By Vinita Ramani

Montral-based film artist Julian Samuel's 2004 work Save and Burn, on democracy and libraries and the current destruction of archives in Palestine and Iraq, could not more timely.

Everything and Nothing and Other Works from the Ongoing Project, Untitled 1988-2005

By Jayce Salloum

I was a couple of days into the week when I realized that my plans to get lots of work done, and get lots of rest were essentially incompatible. I opted for rest, with a little work. Now, I can't imagine walking back into the classroom tomorrow.

A Canadian in London

By Catherine Elwes

Human nature dictates and the media exploit our fascination with extreme behaviours, crimes, misdemeanours and natural disasters of every kind.

Pils Slip

By John Greyson

For a couple of decades, I’ve worked in a bunch of modes: agit-prop video, a bit of doc, 35mm narrative, experimental digi-features, installations. Beyond a common base of queer content, and a healthy dose of humour, the works have often included some overt musical element, often in the form of song...

Moonstruck: Robert Lepage Floats in Space

By Jason Anderson

Robert Lepage has always been very keen to free himself from the shackles of gravity. In Needles and Opium, one of the productions that confirmed his status among theatre’s most vanguard conceptualists, he spent much of the show suspended in a harness far above the stage.

Video Confidential

By Catherine Elwes

Video has long acted as both travelling companion and confidante in the work of Canadian artists. The travelling derives from the experiences of recent arrivals or the family myths of arrival inherited by the children of migrants.

A Whole Wild World

Mark Lewis’ latest project is a film installation for galleries. By focusing on the changing meaning and value of ‘the portrait’, The Whole Wide World explores the relationship between film, on the one hand, and painting and photography on the other.

Mapping the Human Heart

By Metin Alsanjak

For nearly 20 years, French film-maker Claire Denis has been creating disarming, alluring cinema. Her minimal narratives have more in common with poetry than prose, her near-silent visuals seeming sometimes more photographic than filmic.

Citadel of Good

By Cameron Bailey

Atom Egoyan completed two feature-length works this year. Where The Truth Lies is a $24 million production starring Kevin Bacon, Colin Firth and Alison Lohman. It premiered in competition at Cannes and will launch theatrically this autumn with massive commercial expectations.

Song of Innocence and Experience

By Jason Wood

Shown to thunderous acclaim at last year’s London Film Festival, Innocence is the astonishing debut feature of hotly tipped young director Lucile Hadzihalilovic. Previously best known for her association with Gaspar Noé, Hadzihalilovic edited Seul Contre Tous whilst Noé shot her La Bouche de Jean-Pierre.

Desire, loneliness, the wind flowering almond…

By Louise Gluck

Desire, loneliness, the wind in the flowering almond...

Volume 2 – Issue 9 – Autumn/Winter 2005

“Truly, I live in dark times!
…The man who laughs
Has simply not yet had
The Terrible News.  
What kind of times are these, when
To talk about trees is almost a crime
Because it implies silence about so many horrors?”  

Bertolt Brecht, from To Those Born Later  

Managing Editor: Holly Aylett
Editor: Gareth Evans
Editorial/Marketing Coordinator: Metin Alsanjak
Publishing Coordinator: Eleanor Brown
Distribution: Melissa Miners
Sponsorship and Development: Nancy Harrison
Student Rep Coordinator: Jose Pepe
Events Producer: Di Robson  

Editorial Board: Holly Aylett, Michael Chanan, Gareth Evans, Gaylene Gould, James Leahy, Thessa Mooij, Hannah Patterson, Julian Petley.  

Advisory Network: John Akomfrah, Asu Aksoy, Yossi Bal, Gill Branston, Robert Chilcott, Kieron Corlss, Don Coutts, David Curtis, Margaret Dickinson, Catherine Elwes, Alain Fountain, Catherine Fowler, Lina Gopaul, Keith Griffiths, Sylvia Harvey, Judith Higginbottom, Asif Kapadia, Ruth Lingford, Sarah McCarthy, Martin McLoone, Robin Macpherson, William Raban, Kevin Rockett, Keith Shiri, Sarah Turner.  

Original Print Design: Stephen Chard, Thinkfarm 0207439439 with Neil Taylor, Inkubate 07732295851  

Printed in the UK by: Fox Print Services Ltd.  

With Special Thanks to: Maggie Warwick, Colin Hicks, Celine Gagnon, Rose Cupit, Maggie Ellis, Pinky Ghundale, Joan Leese, Hinchee, Chris Lane, Verena Stackelberg, Philip Ilson, Chris Chandler, Tina McFarlingPeter Chappell, Emma Sangster, Jem Cohen, Kate Forde, Sarah Bemand, Yoram Allon, Janet Garland, Michael Wayne, Chris Lane, Charles Helliwell, Iain Bennett, Robin Priestley, Rob McCrae, Eve Gabereau, Desiree Banugo, Mark Chilvers, Ben Cook, Jill Reading, Jason Anderson, John Greyson, Sabine Niewalde, Mike Warry, Menelik Shabazz and Artificial Eye.  

Original Printed Edition published with financial assistance from: Arts Councile England, UK Film Council