Images Festival screened three films by York faculty and graduate students

True to York’s reputation for innovation, film faculty and students again demonstrated their ability to push the boundaries of avant-garde film at this year’s Images Festival, Canada’s premier venue for film from the fringes.

York entries at the festival, which wrapped up April 22 in Toronto, came from master’s film student Mary Daniel; Izabella Pruska-Oldenhof, a contract faculty member who teaches film and is working toward a doctoral degree in the Communication & Culture Program; and Alex Rogalski, a teaching assistant in film who is completing his master’s in the Communication & Culture Program.

Daniel’s six-minute video, Two Hummingbirds (2006), was screened April 15 in the international shorts category, Willing Spirit, which featured films about loss, expectation and simple joys. In Daniel’s production, two hummingbirds return every evening before dusk to a tree which used to have a birdfeeder.

Right: A scene from Mary Daniel’s Two Hummingbirds

A long-standing member of Vancouver’s alternative film community, Daniel has been making films for 15 years. She has also written several documentaries, including a six-part series on alternative filmmaking in western Canada. She produced the award-winning Coming to Her Senses, a compilation of six films by six women on the six senses. Her productions have been shown at festivals worldwide, including gay and lesbian festivals in Milan and London, and the Toronto International Film Festival.

Pruska-Oldenhof’s Fugitive l(i)ght (2005), a nine-minute 16mm film, was screened April 16 in the international shorts category, Light Comes through my Kitchen Window, which showcased films about ephemeral moments of beauty.

Left: An image from Izabella Pruska-Oldenhof’s Fugitive l(i)ght

Inspired by American dance pioneer Loie Fuller’s Serpentine Dance, a concoction of visual patterns created by the vaudeville skirt dance performed under incandescent electric lights, Pruska-Oldenhof reworked Fuller’s Edison-era dance footage, drawing the viewer’s gaze into a maze of skirt folds of coloured patterns that constantly move, change and shift.

Fugitive l(i)ght aims to evoke a charge of energy that might have been experienced by the audience of the1890s in the presence of Fuller’s light performances,” explains Pruska-Oldenhof.

Pruska-Oldenhof is co-founder of the Loop Collective, an interdisciplinary film collective in Toronto. Her films and videos have been screened at the Toronto, New York and Rotterdam international film festivals; Sundance Film Festival; Cinematheque Ontario and San Francisco Cinematheque; Ottawa’s Museum of Civilization; New York Kunsthalle; and filmwerkplaats, Rotterdam.

Rogalski’s three-minute Super 8 production, which incorporates text with image, was screened April 19. Titled near a landmark and other passed identities* (2005), the film draws its inspiration from travel photographs and memory loss.

Right: A shot from Alex Rogalski’s near a landmark and other passed identities*

“Through the text, the film challenges the audience to read between the lines, to decipher another’s memories through recollections and image,” explains Rogalski. “The idea comes from photo albums of the many places I’ve traveled to: Europe, Indonesia, Japan and the Philippines. The older I become, the more difficult it is to recall the memories or reasons for taking these photos. The notes written on the backs of the pictures provide only a hint as to how I felt at that moment, and over time the details are disappearing.”

Rogalski has been creating Super 8 films for about eight years, and his productions have been showcased at festivals across Canada, the United States and Japan. Since its premiere in Regina in 2005 as part of the One Take Super 8 Event, near a landmark and other passed identities* has been shown at festivals in Montreal and Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Now in its 19th year, Images is Canada’s largest annual event devoted exclusively to independent and experimental film, video, installation, performance and new media. This year’s festival showed more than 120 new productions by artists from Canada and 24 countries worldwide.

This article was submitted to YFile by Mary-Lou Schagena in the Faculty of Fine Arts.