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Beyond the Narrative: Preserving and Mobilizing Canadian LGBT2Q Films from 1970 - 2000 in the CFMDC Collection

Canadian Filmmakers Distribution Centre
Representative Image
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Film Still: I Will Not Think About Death Anymore (dir. Irene Buncel, 1994)

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CFMDC Film Vault @ TMAC

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Film Still: Keltie's Beard: A Woman's Story (dir. Sara Halprin, 1983)

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CFMDC Come Down screening

The Canadian Filmmakers Distribution Centre (CFMDC) case study focuses on key Canadian LGBT2Q films made between the mid-1970s and the early 2000s that lay dormant in our collection. We are exploring this time period due to its current inaccessibility; queer works in the collection from this period exist solely on celluloid or outdated video formats. This reflects the influx of affordable technology that became available to queer artists beginning with more economical film equipment, and then to a greater extent in the 80s and 90s with video technology. The rapid obsolescence of these formats in the early 2000s, however, has made this era of our LGBT2Q collection elusive to scholars, programmers and the public. Nearly 100 titles (over 30 hours) concentrated between 1984 - 2000 are being digitized from their original format for the first time through this case study.

With the assistance of A/CA partnership organizations and our in-house technical services, we have already digitized 32 titles comprising over 550 minutes of Canadian LGBT2Q films and related paper ephemera (correspondence, scripts, photographs, etc.). Ryerson’s Film Preservation and Collections Management MA program has been a key partnership in facilitating digitization of the case study films, with Research Assistants conducting film inspections, outreach, digitization, and evaluating film priority based on material obsolescence and historical value. CFMDC has co-presented a number of film screenings, including a year-long series with EMILIA-AMALIA, a curated program by performance and video artist Mikiki (co-presented with Queer Media Database), and annual screenings curated by Film Preservation students at Ryerson University. 

Going forward, the CFMDC case study will help support further research and artistic collaboration, digitize 20+ hours of at-risk content, create internal archival policy and guidelines regarding the digitization and cataloguing of LGBT2Q works, and program virtual screenings of newly digitized films from the collection (dates to be announced). We continue to collaborate with the Queer Media Database and the Transgender Media Portal, working with post-doctoral researchers to improve public documentation of LGBT2Q filmmakers and films in the CFMDC collection. 

Research Questions:

  1. How will these films open up the ways in which the LGBT2Q community historicizes themselves in the era of technology and retroviral drugs?
     
  2. What do these films reveal about LGBT2Q histories that extend beyond the narrative of HIV/AIDS memorialization or queer confessional films?
     
  3. How were female-identified filmmakers in Canada representing LGBTQ2S+ identities on-screen during this period?
     
  4. What do these films reveal about LGBT2Q resistance?

Priority Areas:

  • Safeguarding celluloid film for continued research, distribution and exhibition
     
  • Digitizing to reduce wear and tear, reduce barriers of access, and develop audiences 
     
  • Creating lasting partnerships with organizations, scholars, and future researchers
     
  • Participating in the development of policy and best practices for community archives and meta-data

Outcomes:

  • Policy development for the preservation of Canadian moving arts heritage
     
  • Educational programming and new audience development for Canadian LGBT2Q film and for works on celluloid
     
  • Expanding the history of LGBT2Q communities and the inclusion of voices through oral history interviews
     
  • The creation of new work by commissioned artists and researchers

About CFMDC

Established in 1967, CFMDC is a not-for-profit, non-commercial media arts distributor that specializes in independent, artist made work on film and video including works from historically underrepresented communities. We advocate for a holistic understanding of production, distribution and exhibition that prioritizes artist rights, accessibility and the creation of new audiences through education and critical thinking. We have one of the most important collections of artist-made moving image on film in Canada and have recently moved into a facility with a specially designed space for our 16mm, 35mm and (s)8mm collection. 
 

Values

  • Artists should be paid for their work 
     
  • Art drives change, challenges conventions and transforms lives
     
  • Advocate for critical space outside the mainstream for artists’ works
     
  • Advocate for voices rooted in community that disrupt dominant discourses
     
  • Explore opportunities to build community, encourage dialogue and reach new audiences 
     

Land Acknowledgement

Our territorial acknowledgment is meant to stand as a first step towards reflecting on our existence on stolen lands and our commitment to better understanding the complex and varied histories of this land, the territories of the Anishinaabe, the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Haudensosaunee, the Huron-Wendat, the Cree and any other Nation who cared for the land (acknowledged and unacknowledged, recorded and unrecorded).

We accept that acknowledgment in this way doesn’t end here and is a living statement open to discussion and change. We intend this Territorial Acknowledgement to demonstrate our commitment to continued awareness, reflection, and establishing reciprocal relations. Therefore, we do not intend this statement to signify closure and acceptance of the continued structural conditions of settler colonialism.

The daily work of CFMDC takes place in Toronto which is covered by Treaty 13, a treaty signed with the Mississaugas of the Credit, and the Williams Treaty signed with multiple Mississaugas and Chippewa bands. We also acknowledge the ‘Dish’ With One Spoon treaty that covers the land of what is now called southern Ontario and is between the Anishinaabe and Haudenosaunee. 

We also acknowledge the Treaty of Niagara as a founding moment of constitutional relations between Indigenous Nations and the colonial Nation as an important part of Canada’s history and should be respected as part of a Nation to Nation relationship 

We reference these recent treaties and agreements of this land that is today called Toronto to acknowledge the responsibility of settlers. Importantly, we remain cognizant that the history of Indigenous peoples on Turtle Island is thousands of years old and that communities and territories extend beyond colonial legal boundaries and that there were systems of sharing and negotiations between nations through their own diplomatic and legal systems.  

This acknowledgment is a first step in the ongoing process of decolonization. Compelling us, our settler colonial members and community members, to further understand our obligations to the Nations of these territories and the concrete treaties that are part of the long history on Turtle Island.

Today, the meeting place of Toronto is still the home to many Indigenous people from across Turtle Island and we are grateful to have the opportunity to work in the community and on this territory.

As part of CFMDC’s participation in the Archive/Counter-Archive project we will work in the spirit of the 94 Calls to Action from the Truth and Reconciliation Report; Particularly Recommendations for Museums and Archives and Recommendations for Media and Reconciliation. We also work with the knowledge of the importance of recognition of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. And as a media arts organization and member of the Independent Media Arts Alliance (IMAA) we would like to acknowledge and support the incredible work of National Indigenous Media Arts Coalition (NIMAC). 

Team Members
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Partner

Genne Speers

Interim Director
CFMDC
Pronouns
She/Her/Hers

Genne Speers is the Deputy Director of the CFMDC, one of Canada’s oldest artist run centres founded in 1967. The CFMDC is one of four member organizations of TMAC (Toronto Media Arts Centre). She is an advisory member of the TMAC board and serves on the boards of the Media Arts Network of Ontario and the Independent Media Arts Alliance. Genne holds a Masters of Cinema and Film Archiving from the University of East Anglia and is a PhD Candidate in Cinema and Media Studies at York University. Her current research concerns aerial images of violence and the interpretation and translation of instrumental aerial images within the context of the archive.

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Partner

Jesse Brossoit

Distribution Coordinator
CFMDC
Pronouns
He/Him/His

Jesse Brossoit holds a Master of Arts in Film Preservation and Collections Management from Ryerson University. He has previously worked on cataloguing and archiving film collections for the Art Gallery of Ontario and the Liaison of Independent Filmmakers of Toronto, and is currently the Distribution Coordinator for CFMDC.

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Collaborator

Laura Horak

Associate Professor
Carleton University
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She/Her/Hers

Laura Horak investigates the history of transgender and gender-nonconforming film and media in the United States and Canada, and the history of sexuality in U.S. and Scandinavian cinema. Supported by a SSHRC Insight Development Grant, Horak is researching the history of trans, Two-Spirit, and gender-nonconforming filmmaking in Canada and the United States, and creating a pilot online database to promote these filmmakers.

She is author of Girls Will Be Boys: Cross-Dressed Women, Lesbians, and American Cinema, 1908-1934 (Rutgers University Press, 2016), co-editor of Silent Cinema and the Politics of Space (Indiana University Press, 2014), and Unwatchable (Rutgers University Press, January 2019). She also co-edited a special issue of Somatechnics on trans cinematic bodies. She regularly curates film screenings in Canada, Europe, and the United States.

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Co-applicant

Julianne Pidduck

Associate Professor
Université de Montréal
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She/Her/Hers

Julianne Pidduck is associate professor in the Communication department at the Université de Montréal. Her research explores representations of gender and sexuality through the moving image, and more broadly across mediated public discourse. Author of Contemporary Costume Film (2004), she has published widely in Canadian and international academic journals. Her current project, Shadowplay and Afterimages, examines LGBTQ2+ produced film, video, and photography in Montréal from the 1950s until the 1990s as an archive of LGBTQ2+ lives and experience. As part of this project, she recently edited a special section of the online journal Jump Cut, returning to mythic Quebec filmmaker Claude Jutra in light of the 2016 allegations of pedophilia. Member of the core group of Queer Media Database Canada-Québec Project, she is presently co-curating an installation exploring 1970s Montréal lesbian bar culture and social life entitled, After Hours at Madame Arthur, to take place at Montréal’s Never Apart Centre from June-September 2019.

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Co-applicant

Alanna Thain

Associate Professor
English and IGSF, McGill University
Pronouns
She/Her/Hers

Alanna Thain is a professor of Cultural Studies and World Cinemas at McGill University, where she directs the Moving Image Research Laboratory and the Institute for Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies. She is the author of Bodies in Suspense: Time and Affect in Cinema (University of Minnesota Press, 2017). Her current research includes Anarchival Outbursts on dance and the movement practices of post-digital cinema, and Cinema Out of the Box, a research-creation project around a mobile, bike powered cinema, and the global trend of outdoor cinemas.

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Postdoctoral Researcher

Antoine Damiens

Postdoctoral Fellow
McGill University
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He/Him/His

Antoine Damiens is a FRQSC Postdoctoral Fellow at McGill University. In 2018, he obtained a PhD in Film and Moving Image Studies from Concordia University. His first book, "LGBTQ Film Festivals: Curating Queerness," was recently published with Amsterdam University Press (2020). He is currently working on a short book on Cyril Collard's 1992 HIV/AIDS film Les nuits fauves (with McGill Queen's University Press). Antoine acts as co-chair for the Feminist and Queer Research Workgroup within the European Network for Cinema and Media Studies (NECS) and as co-editor for the Film Festivals Reviews section of the journal NECSUS.

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Student Researcher

Genevieve Flavelle

PhD Student
Queen's University
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Genevieve Flavelle is an independent curator and PhD student in the Art History program at Queen’s University. She is a white settler of Scottish and French ancestry raised and currently living in Tkaronto/Toronto. Her doctoral research investigates the work of contemporary visual artists who are challenging traditional forms of historical research to give voice to underrepresented, forgotten, or imagined histories. Her broader research and curatorial interests include queer theory, queer feminist art histories, contemporary art, archives, public art, and feminist curatorial strategies. She holds an MA from Western University and a BA from NSCAD University, both in Art History. She has curated exhibitions at Modern Fuel Artist-Run Centre (Kingston, ON), Younger Than Beyonce Gallery (Toronto, ON), The Khyber (Halifax, NS), and the Anna Leonowens Gallery (Halifax, NS). She has also held the positions of Operation Director at Modern Fuel Artist-Run Centre and Programming Assistant at Eyelevel Gallery. Her writing has appeared in C Magazine, BlackFlash, Esse, and various exhibition catalogues.

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Student Researcher

Shannon Gagnon

MA Student, Film Preservation and Collections Management
Ryerson University
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She/Her/Hers

Shannon is a second year student studying Film Preservation and Collections Management at Ryerson University. Her background in Art History has shaped her current research interests in the preservation of performance art, and will be focusing her research on documentation practices conducted at the Western Front in Vancouver. Most recently, Shannon worked with the Regent Park Film Festival's project Home Made Visible, and has previously interned at VTape and the Canadian Filmmakers Distribution Centre.

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Student Researcher

deneige nadeau

PhD Student, Cultural Studies
Queen's University

deneige nadeau is a gutter philosopher, an angry dyke and an ivory tower terrorist. s_he recently returned to being an unruly university student in the Cultural Studies Program at Queen's University. As a first generation scholar/activist, s_he is a reluctant product of the academy: a proud dropout of the social justice institute at the University of British Columbia; holding at a distance an MA in Philosophy, Art and Critical Thought from the European Graduate School; and a BFA in Visual Art from Emily Carr University of Art + Design.

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