Volume 16, Issue 2 / February 2012

Colin Low Special

In this issue

For this issue Offscreen joins in celebration with its French sister journal Hors Champ, who are programming a three-day homage to the career of the great Canadian filmmaker Colin Low. Over these three days (April 12-14, 2012) Hors Champ will be presenting a selection of his works at the Cinémathèque Québécoise, with Colin Low (who now lives in Montreal) in attendance. For a list of the films being screened see below, but for description and detail, I urge you to go Hors Champ (link below) for more coverage of the event (with career overviews by former Cinémathèque director Robert Daudelin and Nicolas Renaud, co-editor of Hors Champ). In honor of this event, Offscreen is proud to present the first English translation of Pierre Pageau’s excellent overview of Low’s career, from a Quebec film culture point of view, “Colin Low, an Anglophone in Quebec,” written originally in French (original citation can be found at the end of the essay). The second essay as part of the Low tribute is my own modest appreciation of this cinema legend, “Colin Low: Canadian Renaissance Artist.” Here and elsewhere in this issue I enthusiastically urge readers to visit the NFB website (link below) for their free streaming archive of many Low films, and a new initiative called “African Film Library” (link below) which, for a small fee, makes available for viewing and downloading a rich heritage of African Cinema, including fourteen key works of Ousmene Sembene. In Mike Archibald’s report on the 2012 Vancouver International Film Festival, he laments the difficulty in seeing popular (as opposed to art house) foreign cinema in his local Vancouver theatres. The theme of foreign films is front and center in the concluding piece of this issue, Daniel Garrett’s “Teaching the World: World Affairs in Foreign Films: Getting the Global Picture: Seeing History and Society in Osama, Tsotsi, and the Counterfeiters.” Garrett’s piece reviews Wayne Wang’s film Snow Flower and the Secret Fan (among other films), as well as a recent book World Affairs in Foreign Films: Getting the Global Picture which covers thirteen films. Garrett, who acknowledges that one of the attractions of foreign cinema for himself has always been the chance to learn about other cultures, also notes a shift away from the cliché of foreign films meaning “sophistication and sex,” to ‘foreign’ meaning films about the struggle for “dignity, liberty…survival,” and the point of origin shifting from European to African, Asian, Latin American and Middle Eastern. In the first part of his review, Garrett analyzes Snow Flower and the Secret Fan as a film about changing female relationships in contemporary China. The rest of the films discussed stem from those selected by author Roberta Seret in her partly praiseful and partly instructional book World Affairs in Foreign Films: Getting the Global Picture. Capping the issue is Mark Penny’s review of Kevin Smith’s change of pace film, Red State.

Back to Colin Low. Here is a list of the film beings screened as part of Hors Champ homage:

April 12 2012 – 18h30

Corral (Colin Low, Canada 1954, b&w, without dialogue, 35 mm, 11 min)
Universe (Roman Kroitor, Colin Low, Canada 1960, n&b, Original English version, 16 mm, 29 min)
Circle of The Sun (Colin Low, Canada 1960, color, Original English version 16 mm, 30 min)

April 13 2012 – 20h30

The Children of Fogo Island (Colin Low, Canada 1967, b&w, Original English version , Betacam num., 17 min)
Hector and Reuben (Colin Low, Etats-Unis 1969, b&w, Original English version Betacam num., 17 min)
The Hutterites (Colin Low, Canada 1964, b&w, Original English version 35 mm, 28 min)

April 14 2012 – 17h00

City Out of Time (Colin Low, Canada 1959, color, Original English version Betacam SP, 16 min)
City of Gold (Wolf Koenig, Colin Low, Canada 1957, b&w, Original English version 35 mm, 22 min)
Moving Pictures (Colin Low, Canada 2000, color, Original English version 35 mm, 47 min)

PS: As a whole-hearted plug for the NFB‘s impressive and generous website, I want to shout out that many of Low’s film are available for live stream viewing for free, and can also be purchased for very cheap as digital downloads (many in high definition). After seeing the films at the Cinémathèque (or of course those of you who do not live in Montreal) please visit the NFB website, search for Colin Low or under individual film titles, and enjoy! (Donato Totaro, ed.)

Other online streaming sources for foreign & esoteric cinema

African Film Library

Moving Image Archive


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