Right now the name Michael Snow is on the lips of every film lover in Winnipeg. He's the featured guest of the eighth annual WNDX Festival of Moving Image, running September 26 to 29.
SCENE asked Irene Bindi, curator of the Michael Snow special feature, to fill us in on why he is such a cultural icon:
I came to know Michael Snow’s films after going to a screening of his once partner Joyce Wieland’s film Reason Over Passion. This led me to, among others, Snow’s <---> (Back and Forth), a film that rocketed me to another reality.
While the rest of the world continues to remake the same film over and over in different (but not too different) ways, Snow is one of the few who continues to explore the outside, inside, underside, and b-side of what a film can be.
Not to put too fine a point on it, but once you’ve seen a few of Snow’s films, the idea of filmmakers like Lars Von Trier being lauded as cinematic rule breakers becomes laughable.
1. Structuralism is sexy!
And visceral. And thought-provoking. And enlightening. Snow’s structuralism (cinema that in a variety of ways explores its own construction), is concept-laden and visually fascinating. Nowhere else is the difference between the intention to make a film and the intention to explore something with film so delightfully obvious.
2. Comic strip or cosmic trip?
In his writing and interviews, the well-spoken Snow (whose work has been known to contain visual punning and plays on words) loops language around as if he knows that there’s an internally humorous element to everything. In one description he refers to his monolithic film La Région Centrale as a “cosmic strip”.
3. Never outputs mediocre work.
As a programmer I can attest to the fact that it’s a hideous task to select films from Snow’s output because they all offer something unique and they are ALL excellent. Some evidence? Two films that I truly wish I could have included in the WNDX programs: So is This (1982), and Presents (1981).
4. Sometimes a film nerd is also a music nerd.
And sometimes Snow’s massive success as a visual artist and filmmaker overshadows the fact that he is a hugely accomplished improvisational musician. Seek out his work in the long-standing CCMC and you’ll see what I mean.
5. He’s ours.
He became famous in the 70s at the height of a fascination with Canadian nationalism and today Snow is a point of Canadian pride, celebrated internationally in the worlds of visual art, experimental music, and experimental film, where his work still ignites the spirit of the moving image.
The WNDX Festival runs at various venues until Sept. 29.
Irene Bindi is a Winnipeg-based artist and programmer for the WNDX Festival of Moving Image.
This content is provided by Irene Bindi. The views expressed do not express the views of CBC. CBC is not responsible for this content.