18 days to go. So much to do, before our big launch at City Hall of the photoblogger’s touring Photo Exhibit.
Fun news: the Mayor of Toronto, David Miller will host the opening reception. The even-more-fun news: he’s agreed to meet with our group privately in his office for 45 minutes the week prior, to view the photoblog, and to meet the artists.
So its not just a photo-op, we’re hoping it’s a chance to really talk.
During our holiday party last week, the photobloggers brainstormed what they want to say to the mayor: the need for affordable housing, and the unique concerns of young parents at welfare, and access to health care.
Alice Gorman, our public health nurse guru told us Miller and City Council fought hard for Jordan’s Village, the 27-units of transitional housing for Young Parents, and that it’s finally got the go-ahead, despite a recent appeal at the Ontario Municipal Board.
Meanwhile, Associate-Producer-turned-curator Heather Frise has been scrambling to get the images printed large-format and mounted in minimalist plexi-glass frames, along with the blog entries. The exhibit will be huge. 29 pieces. Including gorgeous portraits by the master-portrait taker, Davida Nemeroff.
December 29th, 2006
I WAS HERE is a media workshop that puts digital cameras and photoblogging websites into the hands of young parents. Five women, all pregnant or parenting, have been documenting their lives in Toronto through their own eyes. All have had experience with homelessness.
This exhibit features large format prints and text from some of their blogs.
For the behind-the-scenes story, go to http://www.nfb.ca/filmmakerinresidence
We’ve come together as a group to have our voices heard.
“I guess I kind of liken it to voting” says Adrienne, “People say it’s just one vote, one small voice, it doesn’t count, but you do it anyway because it all adds up in the end.”
We want to show that we have many struggles in our lives, but that ultimately we are strong, we work really hard. Through photoblogging, “We are creating windows into our lives” says Jess, “And hopefully it will take the judgemental edge off and change people’s perceptions of us.”
We have been documenting our journeys, transitions, our homes, our families, our daily lives, exploring how and what we see. “Since I started using the camera, I look for beautiful things” says Meghan, “I analyze what I see. I think, where would be a nice place to go? I always keep my eyes open; alert to what inspires me.”
We hope, in the words of Keneisha, that “People will take time to look at our photographs and read our stories, not just look and go, ‘Oh, that’s nice’ and walk off. But really look at the work we’ve done and think about what it feels like to walk in our shoes.”
— I WAS HERE Photobloggers
January 10, 2007
TOURED IN EARLY 2007 ACROSS TORONTO, opening at CITY HALL with a reception hosted by Mayor David Miller.
Remounted in May 2007 at CONTACT PHOTO FESTIVAL.
Watch for future remounts here!
MEDIA COVERAGE FROM THE TOUR
Catherine Moravac, Alice Gorman, Merry Little and Davida Nemeroff. Jennifer Humphries, Branden Bratuhin, Christine Kleckner, Arthur Yeung, Patricia Garcia, Sue Mander, Susan Nosov, Donna Cowan and Tom Permlutter at the NFB. Lindsay Wright and Peggy Fotherhill at NFB Mediateque. Heather Haynes at Toronto Free Gallery. Orla Garriques, Michael Chambers, Petra, and Francesca Baldry. Ruth Ewert, Helen Makrikostas, Rosetta Racco for workshop space. Sophia, Shuba, Gladys and Sarah from Ontario Early Years. Tim Evans, Jim O’Neill, Sarah Vernon, Dr. Joel Ray, Dr. Katherine Rouleau and Gail Yardy at St. Michael’s Hospital. Mayor David Miller and Carmen Smith from the city. For connecting us: Margaret at Covenant House, Laura at Shout Clinic, Tammy at Pathways and all of YPNFA. And most of all: Adrienne, DJ, Jess, Keneisha, Meghan, Natalie, Linda and Taheira.
December 18th, 2006
“When I went without my glasses for two weeks, I nearly got beat-up and run over by cars simply because I couldn’t make-out what was coming at me,” Tony told us yesterday, in a new media project we’ve started up with our photoblogging group (see chapter 5 of the FIR website).
This week, we’ve joined forces with Street Health to find out what “health-care” means when you’re homeless in the streets of Toronto. We’re documenting the state of health and access to health-care amongst the homeless in our city.
It’s an update to a study Street Health did in 1992 (the first of its kind in North America) when they surveyed 450 homeless people about their health. Back then, Street Health came up with some harrowing stats. Take this one: 4.5% of the sample reported head injuries, and 20% reported seizures. Or this one: One in five of the women interviewed had been raped in the past year (21.2%). And access to health care stats were no better: 40% of those sampled had no health card at the time of the survey, and 6.7% had been refused health-care because they had no card.
So 14 years later, what’s changed and what hasn’t? Street Health, with St. Mike’s doc Stephen Hwang, have hired 15 peer researchers (people who’ve had experience with homelessness) to conduct the quantitative survey with 350 people who are currently homeless. The survey will yield the statistics so crucial to advocacy around improving health in the streets.
Meanwhile, we’ve hired four women in our photoblogging project as photographers and interviewers to put “human faces” to the study. Over the next few weeks, we’ll be asking about 20 people from the survey to have their portraits taken (we’re offering a polaroid pic as a keepsake), and to tell us their stories and their experiences about their health.
The portrait sittings are a blast. We’ve transformed the basement at Street Health into a professional photography studio (see pic above, Jess photographing Stephen and Brenda), thanks to our mentor Davida.
But during the interviews, we’ve been close to tears a few times already. One woman told us how she gave birth in an alleyway a few months ago. Another woman showed us her scarred forehead from a recent attack with a broken beer bottle.
“The shelters have become warehouses for the mentally ill,” says one man, “Since the massive de-institutionalization of the psychiatric wards during the Harris government.”
“It’s a constant threat,” says one woman, “because you never know when they will have an episode and get violent.”
Our joint report and a special chapter (featuring the portraits and audio interviews) in the FIR website will come out this spring.
December 18th, 2006
Katerina Cizek is a documentary-maker and the National Film Board of Canada’s Filmmaker-in-Residence at an inner-city hospital. She is teaming up with partners at the frontlines - doctors, nurses and patients - to create collaborative media. In this blog, she is writing about the day-to-day process, the ideas behind and the future of “interventionist media.” This blog is a companion to a media-rich online documentary: www.nfb.ca/filmmakerinresidence
Our website is the only Canadian win at the 2008 Webby Awards, (the Webbys have been dubbed the “Oscars of the Internet” by The New York Times); it was also a Webby Honoree in the Health category. We are also currently nominated for a 2008 Banff Rockie Award. Our URL won the 2007 Canadian New Media Award for excellence in news and information, a 2007 Flash Forward Big Orange Rubber Arrow and a 2007 Montreal Prix Boomerang. Nominated for an inaugural Grierson: Sheffield Innovation Award, UN World Summit Award, and a Canadian New Media Award for excellence in use of social media.
The Huffington Post says our Filmmaker-in-Residence: The Complete Collection DVD Box Set is “The new media equivalent of a book you can’t put down”.
The Globe and Mail calls our website “engrossing…” and Art Threat’s Ezra Winton says it’s “One of the most refreshing, engaging and political pieces I have seen on the internet.”The US-based Pulp-Portal says that the FIR website “Almost made us want to move to Canada.”
The National Post calls our Photoblogging project “Remarkable.”
Jim Creeggan of the Bare Naked Ladies says “The Bicycle puts a human face on a crisis that affects us all,” while The Toronto Sun calls the film “Emotional… dramatic…” Globe and Mail film critic, Liam Lacey says it’s “A sophisticated piece of short documentary film-making.”
The National Post says “Don’t Miss” The Interventionists and Evan Solomon of CBC News: Sunday calls it “An extraordinary documentary”. Film nominated for Best Director at the 2007 Gemini Awards.
Katerina Cizek, Filmmaker-in-Residence
Kat Cizek’s films have helped instigate criminal investigations, changed UN policies, and have screened as evidence at an International Criminal Tribunal. Her films have documented the Handicam Revolution, and have themselves become part of the movement.
Currently, she is developing an experimental program with the National Film Board of Canada called Filmmaker-in-Residence – a program that partners media with medicine in order to fuel social and political action. The project’s website is the winner of a Webby Award (dubbed “the Oscars of the internet” by th New York Times), a Canadian New Media Award, the US-based Flashforward award and a Montreal Prix Boomerang.
Cizek’s recent film about new technologies and human rights, Seeing Is Believing (co-directed with Peter Wintonick) won the prestigious Abraham Prize at the Hamptons International Film Festival, among other prizes and nominations. It showed on television in over 15 countries, and played at more than 70 international film festivals. The film also screened at MoMA in New York City as part of the Sundance Institute’s Illuminated Voices Series.
She wrote, edited and narrated the 1996 Dead Are Alive: Eyewitness in Rwanda, which was translated into 12 languages, and garnered prizes in New York , San Francisco Golden Gate, Biarritz, the European Echo Humanitarian Award and played at INPUT Mexico. She is a three-time Gemini nominee, and the co-recipient of a 2000 Montreal New Talent Award. Cizek also has made films on the Czech velvet revolution; worked in Aboriginal Gang Territory; investigated a global people-smuggling ring; and directed a series of reports about the battle over water in Central Asia.
While traveling to make films, she’s had a few odd experiences, including singing “Yesterday” in a Korean karaoke café in the Uzbek desert; conducting an interview in Czech with the Chief of Police in the African nation of Guinea-Conakry; and being screened for foot-and-mouth disease on a remote highway on Mindanao Island in the Philippines.
Cizek received a degree in anthropology from McGill University. Her work has appeared in print, TV, radio as well as New Media. She has produced and directed for CBC-radio and CBC-television, and her writing has been published in Walrus Magazine, THIS Magazine, Video For Change (a book published by Pluto Press in the U.K.), a textbook on film by McGraw-Hill in the USA , and a book on film in Germany. She also lectures widely. Cizek is both Czech and Canadian, and currently lives in Toronto.
Gerry Flahive, Producer
In his 25 years with the National Film Board of Canada, Gerry Flahive has distinguished himself in various capacities, most recently as producer of some of its most successful documentaries, including Just Watch Me: Trudeau and the ’70s Generation. This spirited account of Pierre Elliot Trudeau’s influence on a generation of Canadians was a critical and popular success, winning a Genie for Best Feature Documentary, and the Best First Feature Award at the Toronto International Film Festival, Onstage, Offstage: Inside the Stratford Festival (a look behind the scenes at one of the world’s greatest Shakespearean theatre companies), McLuhan’s Wake (a study of the great Canadian thinker), It’s A Girl’s World (a look at social bullying amongst girls), This Beggar’s Description, (about Montreal poet Phil Tetrault), The Bicycle (about an innovative approach to fighting AIDS in Africa) and House Calls (a Toronto doctor and portrait photographer and his relationship with three elderly, housebound patients.
Forthcoming films include a series based on the award-winning book Paris 1919, and The Dark Years, a three-part animated history of the Great Depression in Canada.
A humorist and writer on documentary filmmaking, Flahive has been published in Time, The New York Times, The International Herald Tribune, The Los Angeles Times, Montage, P.O.V., Playback, Take One, and The Toronto Star, and is a frequent contributor to The Globe and Mail.
Heather Frise, Associate Producer
Heather Frise has shot, directed, and edited more than 10 films and videos, including the Genie Award-winning Bones of the Forest (co-directed with Velcrow Ripper). Her subsequent documentary, Open Season won a Silver Spire at the Golden Gate Awards. In addition to her issue-based documentary practice, Frise makes experimental films and videos. She has worked extensively as a freelance editor, director and director of photography. She is one of the founding members of the Access to Media Education Society, where she has worked for more than 10 years with a broad range of marginalized communities as a video instructor, mentor and project director. Frise has taught at Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design and most recently at Toronto’s Ontario College of Art and Design OCAD).
Dawn Wilkinson, Associate Producer
Montreal born Dawn Wilkinson is a graduate of The University of Toronto Women’s Studies & African Studies Programmes and The Norman Jewsion Canadian Film Centre Director’s Lab and Short Dramatic Film Program. Wilkinson has directed music videos and four short films including Girls Who Say Yes (00), Instant Dread (98) and Dandelions (95). She was the apprentice to Norman Jewison on The Hurricane and to Ernest Dickerson on Showtime’s Our America. Wilkinson’s first feature film Devotion (05) won The Tony Stoltz Completion Award at the 2004 Reel World Film Festival;The Star! Audience Award at the 2005 Reel World Film Festival; and Best Feature at the San Francisco Urban Kids Film Festival. Devotion (05) recently had its US TV Premiere on Global Cinema TV, produced by Lead Dog Entertainment for the Black Family Channel and Colours TV. Wilkinson has taught film and video production workshops for the Toronto Film School, the NFB/United Way Action For Neighbourhood Change Summer Video Project, and the Toronto International Film Festival for Children’s Special Delivery Program. She recently wrote and produced a segment for BET’s HIV Testing Day Show.
Branden Bratuhin, Technical Co-ordinator
A former senior video editor of a national TV series and once an NFB student intern, Branden is now the Technical Coordinator for the NFB Ontario Centre. With his wide range of professional experience in editing, producing and directing short films, Branden enjoys the challenge presented by the various NFB Filmmaker-In-Residence projects: determining how to utilize new media for the purposes of outreach.
Silva Basmajian, Executive Producer.
Since 1976, Silva Basmajian’s more than 60 NFB films have garnered numerous awards, with many premiering at more than 200 international festivals including Berlin, Toronto and Sundance. As Executive Producer of the NFB Ontario Centre, Ms. Basmajian oversees English-language production in the province, fostering partnerships among broadcasters and other industry leaders. She works with established filmmakers and cultivates new and emerging talent while championing social issue documentaries. Since her appointment in 2004, she has explored innovative ways to tell Canadian and international stories. Her initiative to create short films downloadable onto cell phones has received international attention and she is currently in development with the Canadian Film Centre to create what may be Canada’s first interactive drama.
December 12th, 2006
Our film, THE BICYCLE recently co-screened with THE BLOOD OF YINGZHOU DISTRICT, at the Margaret Mead Film Festival in New York City. The Blood follows one year in the life of children orphaned after unsafe practices in a wide-scale blood trade in rural China left thousands of impoverished farmers vulnerable to HIV and other diseases through contaminated blood.
The joint screening and panel focused on how AIDS manifests in the developing world in many ways: epidemiologically, politically and socially.
Now, I’ve just learned that THE BLOOD OF YINGZHOU DISTRICT is on the Oscar short-list for short docs. Congratulations to Ruby Yang!
It’s actually a great year for women at the Oscars in the Feature Documentary category too. 8 of the 15 short-listed films are directed by women, notably Florence Ayisi and Kim Longinotto for Sisters in Law and 2-time Oscar winner Barbara Kopple with Cecilia Peck for Shut up and Sing!
The complete short-list for features is here, and the short-list for shorts here.
The nominations will be announced on January 23, 2007.
December 12th, 2006