Volume 21 Issue 7 / July 2017
20 Years and Counting
In this issue
Talking About Poetry, Life, Death, Art and Politics
This is an Anniversary issue. It is hard to imagine but this July, 2017, marks the 20th anniversary of Offscreen. A lot has happened since then in my life. I completed a doctorate, began teaching, fathered a (wonderful!) child, and lost both my parents. But through it all, Offscreen was a constant. Irregular at times, late often but always eventually caught up. I marvel at this sometimes. None of this could have been possible without the contributions of so many wonderful writers, some who have been with Offscreen for a long time, others new, some with many entries, some with only a few. Undoubtedly, life has changed for many of my contributors too. Just as it has for the medium and art we write about, film. Once called the ‘flicks’, and since then the movies, the cinema, film, celluloid, and now, what, the “illuminating pixels”? I decided to commemorate this 20th anniversary as I did my 10th Anniversary (Volume 11, Issue 7, July 2007) by asking my contributors, friends and like-minded to respond to a survey of questions that touch on the changes that have shaped how we view, read, write and talk about cinema across the past 20 years. July 2017 also marks the one year anniversary of a filmmaker dear to Offscreen, Abbas Kiarostami. To commemorate the passing of this cinema giant Offscreen is excited to present, for the first time in English, a fascinating interview conducted by the Iranian newspaper Shargh between artist friends Kiarostami and Adyin Aghdashlu. These two old friends discuss everything from art, life, poetry, politics and death. Credit for this interview goes entirely to my dear collaborator Najmeh Khalili Mahani, who brought it to my attention after Kiarostami’s death, and graciously translated it to English and offered it to me. It is a major find for English-speaking fans of Iranian film. Thank you Naj! Finally, with Fantasia 2017 wrapping up in early August, July 2017 also marks the one year anniversary of Fantasia 2016. OK I know I am stretching the justification factor here, but there are two films that impressed in 2016 but that could not make it into the 2016 Fantasia coverage because of the focus on 20 years of Takashi Miike at Fantasia, so these are essentially stand-alone articles (one a review, one an interview) of films that just happened to have played at Fantasia. Writer Teresa Lobos must be in a melancholic mood, as she is just about to leave our great city Montreal for Scotland. Which might explain the film she chose to write on, Embers, and her focus: “Embers: Meditations on Memory”. The final piece is an interview with the director of Agonie (2016), David Clay Diaz. Agonie fits in nicely with the trend I note in my own survey response about recent films that focus on youth and alienation.
I would also like to draw attention to a new column that was launched during the month of July 2017, “Buck a Review”, written by Montreal-based filmmaker and dedicated cinephile Douglas Buck. (July was a busy month here!). These reviews started back in 2014 as entries on Buck’s Facebook page, as a way for Buck to keep track of his viewing patterns. I enjoyed their sharp, personal, honest and sometimes irreverent tone. As the reviews became longer and showed more investment I lamented that they would only be available to Buck’s Facebook friends (largely) and suggested hosting them on Offscreen in an easy-to-search archived column. Doug agreed and has begun sending me his old review posts. In keeping with the original Facebook entries, there is a comments field at the end of each review for readers to chime in with their own thoughts. Going forward Doug’s new reviews will be published first on Offscreen, and then on his Facebook page. These reviews will be posted independently of Offscreen‘s monthly issue schedule. Each new entry will be announced on our Facebook page. The entries are coming fast and furious, so please keep coming back to check out the column archive listing to the right of each page. (Donato Totaro,ed.)
In the Anniversary spirit, Offscreen (and Hors Champ) would also like to thank “The Canada Council for the Arts” for their continued support.