Major film retrospective celebrates York prof

A production still from 'Green Laser'

It’s already turning into another stellar year for York film Professor John Greyson. His latest short, Green Laser, premiered with sold-out screenings at the Berlin International Film Festival last month, and this week brings the launch John Greysonof a major retrospective in Toronto celebrating his work.

John Greyson

Greyson is no stranger to the Berlinale. Green Laser is his eighth production (three of which earned the acclaimed Teddy Award) to screen there. The film explores civil disobedience, queer activism and solidarity, using documentary-style footage combined with Green Hornet lore and rewritten excerpts from Exodus to document Greyson’s experience with a ‘freedom flotilla’ attempting to sail to Gaza.

He was on-hand to introduce his film which, he said, elicited “terrific questions and great responses” in Berlin, and has since been invited to a dozen other festivals.

Back on home turf, John Greyson: Impatient, a week-long, multimedia, multi-venue retrospective co-presented by three leading cultural organizations, the Toronto International Film Festival, the Art Gallery of Ontario and VTape, debuts on Friday. The retrospective, running March 30 to April 5, showcases Greyson’s extensive body of work, ranging from shorts and feature films, documentary and historical fiction, filmed operas and experimental video art.  It also marks the release of a DVD box set of Greyson’s productions and a new monograph on his provocative 1993 AIDS musical, Zero Patience.

A production still from 'Green Laser'A production still from ‘Green Laser’

“John’s work has consistently pushed cinema to communicate his overlying themes of liberation and activism, crafting some of Canadian cinema’s most indelible moments,” said CBC radio contributor Jesse Wente, head of film programs at TIFF Bell Lightbox

“I’m really looking forward to the opportunity to engage a whole new audience,” Greyson said. “And it’ll be so exciting to see some of my films again on 35mm.”

Colleagues and collaborators of Greyson, among them Canada Research Chair Janine Marchessault and film studies Professor Sharon Hayashi from York’s Department of Film, will introduce each screening and facilitate Q&A sessions to follow.

What’s next for the filmmaker whom TIFF’s artistic director Noah Cowan hails as “one of Canada’s most singular cinematic voices”?

An opera-documentary, says Greyson. “I’m currently in pre-production on Jericho-Baghdad, concerning queers, solidarity and wars in the Middle East.” He begins shooting this week.