Dir. by Marty O’Brien
Peter Mather is a math teacher by day and photographer by passion. In the film we are witness to his enduring the harshest of conditions and most taxing of journeys to capture the perfect photograph of a spectacular, centuries-old Porcupine Caribou migration. The terrain is not easy, but it is beautiful… and so is are the caribou.
Mather is quite likeable, and his good intentions as well as his passion come across clearly in the film. O’Brien and the production team have highlighted this really important story in a personal and accessible way. The story is important especially because since last fall, the Trump administration decided to open up the birthing grounds to the Porcupine Caribou herd. This means the land may be used for oil and gas drilling, which affects not only the caribou but also the land itself and nearby Indigenous communities.
Dir. by Valentin Riedl & Frédéric Schuld
Carlotta was born with a condition that made her unable to recognize faces because she cannot remember them. She also cannot recognize her own face; she is faceblind. As a kid, she struggled a lot — she was bullied by children and adults alike. Over time she learned she could draw herself by touching her face. She can discern herself by touching the dips and valleys of her face. To date, she has painted over a thousand self portraits. They all make her proud…
Riedl and Schuld’s beautiful film with grainy black and white animation is an excellent complement to Carlotta’s story. She is depicted in red to show her strength. The film casts a light on this rare neurological condition, which in a way, has allowed Carlotta to find her artistic self. It is a beautiful testament to the artist and her life.
Dir. by Ed Perkins
Cornelius Walker and his family move out of Peckham in London to Essex to avoid the deadly violence encountered by young black men in their neighbourhood. Their new neighbourhood however is less diverse, and Cornelius encounters racism and violence there first hand. In order to feel accepted and fit in, he quickly decides he must become friends with the same ‘monsters’ that have inflicted racist violence against him.
Perkins uses reenacted scenes along with Cornelius talking straight to the camera. There are no holds bar for Cornelius; he is honest and vulnerable. We learn all that Cornelius was craving was love… he wanted “to feel loved.” Perkins captures some pretty heavy topics but it is done well…not over the top at all. This very personal, first-person account hits you in the gut and heart.
Dir. by Paloma Martinez
When eight-year-old Geovany receives a video camera as a gift, he sets to record his home and life. He and his family have been living on Crisanto Street in a trailer by the train tracks. As they are set to move into a low income apartment soon, Geovany captures his family: mother, sister, and brother. He also captures his friends, neighbours, and the energy of the community.
The film includes video recordings by Geovany, and Paloma Martinez’s own work as well. Although charming, Crisanto Street reminds us of the housing crisis that affects so many families. Through Geovany’s eyes, we get a close look at the reality of many families trying to survive given their circumstances. Nonetheless, this is a story about hope, familial love, and resilience.
My Dead Dad’s Porno Tapes
Dir. by Charlie Tyrell
After his father’s death, director Charlie Tyrell decides to take a closer look at the life and history of this emotionally-distant father. When parents die, they often leave their offspring with many unanswered questions. This film is an effort on Tyrell’s part to make sense of who his father really was. In the process, he must learn about his father’s upbringing, and that of his father’s own parents.
Family relationships are complex. Tyrell’s creatively combines family home videos, photographs, voice recordings of his mother and siblings, and stop-motion animation to try to connect the dots, if you will. Of note is Tyrell’s use of synth music, which works well with the retro feel of the film. Tyrell’s humorous and artistic take to his father’s possessions and the family’s own commentary help weave the story of this man they called father and husband.