The art scene is busy this weekend. Here are a few Winnipeg film events to check out:
● On November 1 and 2, the eleventh annual Global Justice Film Festival screens more than 20 films at the University of Winnipeg. Organized by a coalition of social justice organizations (Amnesty International, development agencies and faith groups), the fest covers topics from sustainable agriculture in India to clean energy in the Navajo territories of the American Southwest, from literacy programs in Cuba to anarchist chocolate-making in Grenada.
One local component is the 30-minute documentary Life on Victor Street by Winnipeg filmmaker Kirby Hammond. Shot in the West End over a period of two years, the film goes beyond the usual news headlines of poverty and gang violence by introducing us to a family that is just working hard to make the best life they can.
Hammond basically steps back and lets Brent, a gifted high school football player who’s trying to keep his life on track, and his father, Fred, tell their own stories. The filmmaking may be barebones, but the message really comes through.
● Making its big-screen hometown debut at Cinematheque (Friday, November 1, 9:00 p.m., Sunday, November 3, 7:00 p.m., Thursday, November 7, 7:00 p.m.), Euphoria is a beautifully shot, powerfully performed drama from Paula Kelly, a Winnipeg filmmaker who’s known mostly for evocative historical documentaries.
Kelly’s story is based on a common true-life situation—a child who is abducted by a parent. After years of moving from town to town with her mother (Sarah Constible), teenager Michelle (Brooke Palsson) runs off to find the father she thought was dead in a Manitoba town she barely remembers.
Constible (the Royal Lichtenstein Comedy Theatre) and Palsson (Less Than Kind) are well-matched as mother and daughter, deftly exploring the depths and complexities of a painfully intense relationship.
Michelle’s road trip back to her father is intertwined with flashbacks to the road trip she and her mother took away from that home a decade ago. Kelly seamlessly weaves together past and present, showing us a series of anonymous motel rooms, emotional evasions and changing identities on Michelle`s long journey of self-discovery.
● As part of its thirtieth anniversary celebrations, Cinematheque is also offering a special one-night screening of Caelum Vatnsdal’s Black as Hell, Strong as Death, Sweet as Love (Friday, November 1, 7:00 p.m.).
With a title taken from a Turkish proverb about the perfect cup of java, this is a dryly funny, deadpan entry into the cigarettes-and-coffee slacker genre, following Sig (Sean Carney), a twenty-something cafe intellectual, and his friends through a low-key round of talk, sex, random urban encounters and coffee. Lots and lots of coffee.
It’s interesting to see this film now, when it has become a black-and-white elegy for a lost time, for those days when you could smoke in restaurants and Osborne Village was both smaller and seedier. Not much happens—this is, after all, a slacker film—but the aimless hanging out can’t be beat.