2004 Fedcan Congress

University of Manitoba, Winnipeg

 

Scott, Brenda, Nadine and Nathan enjoy a post-panel freebie at the President's Reception..

Peter, Gene and Zuzanna respond to questions.

Scott, Nathan, Mike and Darrell celebrate "Day Two."

Jerry White, University of Alberta

This year's FSAC / ACEC conference offered a very odd mixutre of the local and the international.  We had panels on the prairie provinces, but we also had a Walsh lecture about the international wanderings of Brecht and Balazs ("Bertolt Brecht and Bela Balazs: Paradoxes of Exile" - Graham Petrie, McMaster University).  A paper on Japanese anime could be heard at the same time as a paper on "Graham McInnes, Forgotten Film Board Figure" (Gene Walz, University of Manitoba).

 

For me the most moving example of this combination was the Brakhage plenary, which memorialised a great American filmmaker ("Distinctively American" as J. Hoberman wrote) who was, at the same time, deeply connected to Canada and Canadian culture.

 

Brenda Austin-Smith, University of Manitoba

Despite the Biblical rains that pelted the city for most of the conference, FSACers gamely slogged through the puddles and faced the mysteries of the underground tunnels that connected U College to the Fletcher Argue building with remarkable cheer. The opening evening brought a few damp spectators out to see Fritz Lang's Hangmen Also Die (the only collaboration between Lang and Bertold Brecht) offered by Graham Petrie as background for his Martin Walsh lecture. It is a film remarkable for its unabashed propagandistic elements, and the astonishing sight of Walter Brennan as a Czech professor.

 

My view of the conference was a partial one, as I was most often running up and down the (back) stairs smuggling contraband muffins and juice (not allowed under the University's on-campus food contract) into presentation rooms. Two U of M film students, Kevin Andrechuk and Andrew Strutt, helped with equipment matters, directions, book sales, and everything else throughout the conference.

 

I had a chance to attend only a few papers: Elena del Rio's on Sally Potter's The Tango Lesson and Bill Beard's on Guy Maddin fed my melodramatic habit. Gerda Cammaer introduced me to the films of Louise Bourque, while Amelia Does reminded everyone of Arthur Lipsett's original vision. Zuzana Pick demonstrated that while "the revolution will not be televised," it was certainly filmed by the Mutual Film Company. Jo-Anne Stober, this year's Gerald Pratley winner, gave a fine, fine talk on the persistence of vaudeville. I wanted to see and hear more, but was off and running between sessions and between buildings all day.

 

At one point, standing outside a lecture theatre with a student assistant, waiting for the lights to come up so that we could deliver more forbidden food, I peered through a scratched-out place on the blackened window and caught a glimpse of a woman's bare buttocks being soundly whipped (on-screen - not in the room). "Ah," I thought, "How nice. Something for everyone."

 

Besides Jo-Anne's paper and the Graham Petrie's Martin Walsh lecture on Lang's Hangmen... and Brecht's Threepenny Opera --and on the tensions of their collaboration -- the screening of two films by Stan Brakhage, the panel on his work, and the presence of Marilyn Brakhage and their son Vaughan at both events was a highpoint of the conference for me. A more private crescendo was reached when, the next day, I talked briefly to Marilyn in my office, while Vaughan twirled back and forth in a swivel chair, and both listened to Stereolab's "Brakhage" playing on my computer.

 

It was, for me, an intimate conference, with lots of drives up and down Pembina highway, my van full of film-talkers heading out for beer and more talk. I slept in the day after it was over, and had muffins for breakfas

 

Michael Baker, McGill University

The annual FSAC / ACEC conference at the University of Manitoba was my second opportunity to attend the event and it reinforced my enthhusiastic feelings for the association's diverse membership and their individual research interests. As a graduate student, I was thrilled to see JoAnne Strober's Gerald Pratley Lecture cast such a brilliant light upon the work done by grad members within the association.

 

James Missen's programming of works from the Winnipeg Video Pool offered insight into the local filmmaking community and perfectly accented the previous night's exhibition of Brakhage's City Streaming (1990) and A Child's Garden and the Serious Sea (1991).

 

As usual, the FSAC / ACEC gang proved to be a social bunch - there was no shortage of good company and good cheer at the end of each day. Special thanks to Brenda Austin-Smith for not only serving as the on-site co-ordinator, but for making sure we all knew the best spots for food and drink on the Corydon strip.