Welcome to Archive/Counterarchive

Beyond the Narrative: Preserving and Mobilizing Canadian LGBT2Q Films from 1984 - 2000 in the CFMDC Collection

Canadian Filmmakers Distribution Centre
Representative Image

Film Still: I Will Not Think About Death Anymore (dir. Irene Buncel, 1994)


CFMDC Film Vault @ TMAC


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


CFMDC Come Down screening

The Canadian Filmmakers Distribution Centre (CFMDC) Case Study focuses on key Canadian LGBT2Q films made between 1984 and the early 2000s that lay dormant in our collection. We have identified this time period in the collection due to its current inaccessibility; seminal queer works in the collection from this period exist solely on celluloid or outdated video formats.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 in the 80s and 90s, however, the rapid obsolescence of these formats in the early 2000s has made this era of our LGBT2Q collection elusive to scholars, programmers and the public.

Our Case Study will help CFMDC assess the vulnerability of our collection, support research and artistic collaboration, and with the assistance of A/CA partnership organizations digitize seminal Canadian LGBT2Q films and related paper ephemera (documents, photographs, etc.).

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?

Priority Areas:

  • Safeguarding celluloid film for continued 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


  • 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


Established in 1967, CFMDC is a not-for-profit, non-commercial media arts distributor that specializes in independent, artist made moving images 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.

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 Anishanaabe, 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 Archives / Counter Archives 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
Profile Picture
Headshot of Genne Speers

Genne Speers

Deputy Director

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.

Read more
Profile Picture
Headshot of Jesse Brossoit

Jesse Brossoit

Distribution Coordinator

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.

Read more
Profile Picture
Headshot of Laura Horak

Laura Horak

Associate Professor
Carleton University

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.

Read more
Profile Picture
Headshot of Julianne Pidduck

Julianne Pidduck

Associate Professor
Université de Montréal

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.

Read more
Profile Picture
Headshot of Thomas Waugh

Thomas Waugh

Distinguished Professor Emeritus
Concordia University

Born 1948, London, Ontario. Graduate of Guelph Collegiate, Western University, and Columbia University. Teacher, programmer, writer, critic, activist, swimmer, cyclist, cook, pianist, and sauna aficionado. Retired in 2017 after 41 years teaching film studies and sexuality/queer studies at Concordia University.

Author, compiler, or editor of 14 books, the most recent being Confess: Constructing the Self in Media and the Arts within the Third Sexual Revolution (co-edited with Brandon Arroyo, McGill Queen's University Press, 2019).

Co-editor with Matthew Hays of 19-book series Queer Film Classics (Arsenal Pulp Press, Vancouver 2008-2019).

Winner of SCMS Katherine Singer Kovacs Book Award (Society for Cinema and Media Studies, 2017) for the monograph The Conscience of Cinema: The Work of Joris Ivens, 1912-1989 (Amsterdam University Press). Founder of Concordia AIDS Project/Community Lecture Series on HIV/AIDS (1993-2017), and of Queer Media Database Canada Quebec (2006+).

Visiting Professor, Film Studies, English and Foreign Languages University, Hyderabad (2018-19).

Read more