(Being) Women in Canada
March 15 – April 26 2019

By Stephanie Berrington

 

The (BEING) WOMEN IN CANADA program recognizes and celebrates films from the Winnipeg Film Group’s history that are directed by women. While all of the four programs curated for the FOUND IN TRANSLATION project feature works by women, the films in this program in particular comment on gender or the experience of being a woman in Canada, a traditionally patriarchal western country. That commentary is made either explicitly or implicitly, individually or collectively through the dialogue created between them.
 

The film titles included in (BEING) WOMEN IN CANADA are available for FREE streaming for until APRIL 26th 2019.

To watch these films for FREE, you need to register for a FREE, Rental or Professional VUCAVU Account - you can sign up here. Once you have logged into your account, to watch a video just click on the video link you want to watch from this program page. If you want to watch another film in this program, please return back to this program page and and click on the next video link you want to watch.

Once the FREE streaming period has expired for this program, each title can be rented individually with a RENTAL ACCOUNT

 

(BEING) WOMEN IN CANADA

By: Stephanie Berrington
 

This program recognizes and celebrates films from the Winnipeg Film Group’s history that are directed by women. While all of the programs we’ve curated for this project feature works by women, the films in this program in particular comment on gender or the experience of being a woman in Canada, a traditionally patriarchal western country. That commentary is made either explicitly or implicitly, individually or collectively through the dialogue created between them.

Jessie Short’s Wake Up! explores Short’s identity as a Métis woman by filming her physical transformation, through makeup and costume (filmmaking roles traditionally occupied by women), into Louis Riel, a 19th-century Métis man and cultural hero (viewed historically by the white colonizers as a trouble-making rebel). Short’s film embraces the performative quality of gender expression, reminding us that gender is socially constructed and determined by cultural conventions and tradition instead of biology.

the films in this program in particular comment on gender or the experience of being a woman in Canada, a traditionally patriarchal western country.

Danielle Sturk’s Super 8 film, Clean (Propre), looks back on a personal memory (rather than a cultural or historical memory as Short does) from her childhood: an experience of sexual assault that marked for Sturk her loss of youthful innocence and entry into womanhood with all of its attendant hazards and anxieties.

Forever (Toujours) is also about memory, although Tricia Wasney focuses on a stream-of-consciousness series of memories of relationships from her childhood, rather than a singular, momentous memory as Sturk does. Wasney’s video focuses on the girlfriends she had growing up and their influence on her as a young woman coming of age.

Wasney’s emphasis on relationships between women leads us to Shawna Dempsey, Tracy Traeger and Lorri Millan’s collaborative music video, We’re Talking Vulva, which features a human-sized dancing vulva singing an informative song about female genitalia in front of a backing band of rocking women. The video is hilarious, endearing, and educational, offering a retro-style tour of “down there.

... features a human-sized dancing vulva singing an informative song about female genitalia in front of a backing band of rocking women.

Erica Eyres offers a darker vision of female relationships in her satirical video, Jenny Johnson. Eyres plays each of the characters in her film, including the young protagonist whose envy of Jenny Johnson’s pierced ears spirals out of control. Eyres’s dark comedy pokes fun at the competitiveness and vanity so often ascribed to women by society.

Eve Majzels introduces us to a broken-hearted songstress in her nouvelle vague-esque music video, une femme n’est pas une île. Like Eyres, Majzels comically reproduces gendered tropes in order to point out problems with conventional representations of lovelorn femininity.

The solitary woman is the subject of Michelle Elrick’s poetry film, SQUARE (CARRÉ). In it, we watch a woman going about her mundane morning routine, while the room she occupies undergoes dramatic and dreamy transformations, mimicking the way memory and place can be distorted and reimagined by the subconscious after the loss of intimacy and romantic love.

Caroline Monnet’s IKWÉ (“woman” in the Cree language) is, like Elrick’s film, a poetic interpretation of a woman’s interiority, but, unlike Elrick’s isolated protagonist, Monnet’s ikwé is connected to her grandmother, the Moon, who whispers her teachings to Monnet’s eponymous character. It is an intimate reflection on gender through the generations within the context of an Indigenous heritage and spirituality.

Eyres’s dark comedy pokes fun at the competitiveness and vanity so often ascribed to women by society.

Creative intimacy between Indigenous women is celebrated in Michif animator Amanda Strong’s collaboration with Nishnaabeg poet Leanne Betasamosake Simpson. Together they tell a story about recovering what’s been stolen from their peoples in the hauntingly beautiful film, How to Steal a Canoe.

Leslie Supnet’s animation, gains + losses (gains et pertes), is also about losing something (or someone) beloved. Addressed to an unnamed dead loved one, Supnet’s film is a goodbye letter, a reflection on grief and an expression of love. Each of these films is relational in either approach or theme.

Domus, the final film in this program, self-reflexively explores the relationship between cinema and architecture. In this experimental documentary, Rhayne Vermette considers her own filmmaking practice while constructing a portrait of the architect Carlo Mollino. Vermette’s film reaches beyond the interpersonal to the intertextual in this surreal film that is inspired by the work of Mollino and dedicated to experimental animators Ed Ackerman, Al Jarnow, and Takashi Ito.

Addressed to an unnamed dead loved one, Supnet’s film is a goodbye letter, a reflection on grief and an expression of love.

(BEING) WOMEN IN CANADA / (ÊTRE) UNE FEMME AU CANADA



Wake Up! (Réveille!)
Directed by Jessie Short, 5:58 | Experimental Documentary | 2015

A woman transforms into Louis Riel in an exploration of Métis identity.


Clean (Propre)
Directed by Danielle Sturk, 2:44 | Personal Documentary | 2015

A woman comes clean in a car wash.


Forever (Toujours)
Directed by Tricia Wasney, 4:47 | Experimental Documentary | 1992

An experimental short exploring the tenuous grasp the promises we make have on our lives.


We're Talking Vulva (On parle de vulve)
Directed by Shawna Dempsey and Tracy Traeger, Written by Shawna Dempsey and Lorri Millan, 5:00 | Comedy / music video | 1990

At long last, everything you've always wanted to know about "down there" but were afraid to ask. A tender tale wherein our heroine, Ms. V. soul-sisters her way into your heart with the hottest rap this side of the uterus.


Jenny Johnson
Directed by Erica Eyres, 5:33 | Experimental Narrative | 2006

The story of a girl whose only desire is to have her ears pierced just like her nemesis, Jenny Johnson. The character begs her mother relentlessly to let her pierce her ears. When this method fails again and again, it forces the girl to seek another path.


une femme n’est pas une île
Directed by Eve Majzels, 3:32 | Fiction / Narrative / Music Video | 2006

Jean-Luc Godard trips over her record player and falls down the stairs. 


SQUARE (CARRÉ)
Directed by Michelle Elrick, 3:37 | Narrative Poetry | 2015

SQUARE (CARRÉ) is the story of a room that undergoes a series of dream-like transformations during a woman's mundane morning routine. Throughout the film, objects are transformed, exaggerated, dismantled and re-imagined, addressing the transient nature of place and distorted perspective of memory.


IKWÉ
Directed by Caroline Monnet, 4:35 | Experimental Personal Documentary | 2009

The re-imagination of the generational passage of traditional knowledge between a woman and her grandmother moon.


How to Steal a Canoe (Comment voler un canoë)
Directed by Amanda Strong, 4:10 | Animation / Music Video | 2016

How to Steal a Canoe is a song that tells the story of a young Nishnaabeg woman and an old Nishnaabeg man rescuing a canoe from a museum and returning it to the lake it was meant to be with, a story of stealing back the precious parts of us, which were always ours in the first place. The spoken lyrics are by Nishnaabeg poet Leanne Betasamosake Simpson, and the original score is by Cree cellist Cris Derksen.


gains + losses (gains + pertes)
Directed by Leslie Supnet, 3:25 | Drama / Animation | 2011

Through situational vignettes, gains + losses (gains + pertes) illustrates Supnet’s thoughts on death and other personal, day-to-day anxieties. Made as a goodbye letter to a deceased beloved, the work touches on internal grief, tempered with a playful sense of humour and lo-fidelity charm.


Domus
Directed by Rhayne Vermette, 15:23 | Experimental Documentary / Animation | 2017

This is the story of the godlike architect, Carlo Mollino, animated within the desk space of failed architect, Rhayne Vermette. Made with love on 16mm, 35 and Super 8, this Pygmalion-esque tale investigates intersections between cinema and architecture.




We acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts.