Skip to Content

Art Gallery of Ontario

Keyword Site Search

Art Matters Blog

One weekend only!

February 20th, 2017

Joyce Wieland in A and B in Ontario, from the book The Films of Joyce Wieland, Kathryn Elder, ed. Cinematheque Ontario.

The AGO presents the Toronto: Tributes + Tributaries Film and Video Festival with FREE screenings of works by Toronto’s pioneering film and video artists from the 1970s and ’80s

Unroll the red carpet! From March 9 to 12, the AGO is presenting Toronto: Tributes + Tributaries Film and Video Festival, a complement to the exhibition Toronto: Tributes + Tributaries, 1971–1989, running to May 4. Just as the exhibition pays tribute (get it?) to the innovative artists making an impact on Toronto’s visual arts scene at that time, the film festival gives you the chance to experience the equally impressive innovation produced by the city’s video and film artists. The festival is totally free of charge, so book your spot now! It is presented in conjunction with the Canadian Filmmakers Distribution Centre (CFMDC) and artist-run video art distributor Vtape.

Rodney Werden, Baby Dolls, (film still), 1978. 19 min., video, colour, sound.

We spoke with the AGO’s Kathleen McLean, Vtape’s Lisa Steele, and the CFMDC’s Aimée Mitchell to learn what went into putting on these special screenings.

  • Kathleen McLean, Adult Program Coordinator, Public Programming & Learning Coordinator:

“In the same way that a walk through the AGO’s Toronto: Tributes + Tributaries exhibition gives you a great sense of the concerns that were engaging artists in the 70s and 80s, the film festival highlights a number of pioneering artists who were active during that time – many of whom are still making important work today. CFMDC and Vtape have each contributed two programs of screenings to the festival, and Wanda Nanibush, the AGO’s Assistant Curator, Canadian and Indigenous Art, has crafted a mixture of shorts and some great spotlights on Vera Frenkel, Michael Snow, and Joyce Wieland. And best of all, it’s all free!”

  • Lisa Steele, Artistic Director of Vtape:

“To make this selection from the Vtape holdings*, I started with Toronto’s New Work Shows, the 1984 and 1986 events that were initiated and presented by local artists. It’s important to remember that this was the era just before the rise of the media arts festivals that are so much a part of our environment today. As artists we often had to organize screenings ourselves.”

Michael Snow, So Is This (film still), 1982. 43 min., 16 mm film, colour, silent.

*There are 780 individual titles listed in the Vtape database produced by artists living in Toronto during 1971–1989; most of these were reviewed to make this selection.

  • Aimée Mitchell, Distribution Manager/Educational Services for CFMDC:

“In 2017, the Canadian Filmmakers Distribution Centre (CFMDC) is proud to celebrate its 50th anniversary. CFMDC came out of the growing need in Canada’s underground film scene for an independent network that could represent the filmmaking happening on the margins – beyond the boundaries of the National Film Board. Filmmaker Stephen Broomer writes, ‘With the formation of the CFMDC, power was further shifting away from bureaucrats, and into the hands of artists, who were proving that they could organize themselves, that they could work selflessly toward a common cause.’ CFMDC’s programs for the Toronto: Tributes + Tributaries Film and Video Festival speak to the decades in which the Centre became a burgeoning gathering place for fringe cinema in Canada, and specifically Toronto. Here the social, political and practical issues that filmmakers faced had a place to commiserate and disseminate. These programs reflect the political concerns, formal experimentations, and personal experience of what it meant to be artmakers in a rapidly changing city during the 1970s and ’80s.”

Are you an AGOinsider yet? If not, sign up to have stories like these delivered straight to your inbox every week.

Toronto: Tributes + Tributaries, 1971-1989 Government Partners:

We acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts, which last year invested $153 million to bring the arts to Canadians throughout the country.

Nous remercions le Conseil des arts du Canada de son soutien. L’an dernier, le Conseil a investi 153 millions de dollars pour mettre de l’art dans la vie des Canadiennes et des Canadiens de tout le pays.

Comments are closed.