Deepa Mehta, Avi Lewis and more choose their favourite frames
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"Jordan, Welcome to F.L.'s protagonist, told me he likes to be on rooftops because it makes him feel unreachable and from there, he can observe the world without being seen. It also makes him feel proud to be able to get there by himself. For me, these confidences reflect the feelings of adolescence."
— Geneviève Dulude-De Celles, director of Welcome To F.L., a documentary about life in a Quebec high school.
"This was the image that started it all, the one that I couldn't shake. In the script I wrote, 'The young woman [Alyx Melone] is sitting legs over the side of the bed with her back to him [Steven McCarthy]. She has taken the tube out of her mouth but holds it in her hand. They are still connected via the tubes running out of each side of the dialysis-like machine. She gives him a look and takes a deep breath.' It's also the very first thing we shot and it was about a six minute take each time."
— Steven McCarthy, writer/director/producer of the short film o negative, a love story about addiction and dependency. Photo: Cabot McNenly.
"This is a typewriter with Cree syllabics on the keys. It has become an artifact and there are probably only a few lurking around. Although I believe it was originally invented to control and indoctrinate Indigenous communities, I think keyboards with syllabics should be commonly used in today's educational and administrative systems. Can you imagine if all the kids were to text and Facebook in syllabics?"
– Caroline Monnet, director of the short film Mobilize, a celebration of the resourcefulness of Indigenous people.
"I love this image of Indo-Canadian moms in a sauna. Mummyji (the character staring straight at the camera) exemplifies the anguish the moms of hardcore gangsters feel, knowing their sons kill people. They meet in a sauna so that 'if we cry, nobody will know if it's tears or the steam.'"
— Deepa Mehta, director of Beeba Boys, a film about a Sikh mobster starting a turf war in Vancouver. Photo courtesy of Hamilton Mehta.
"In The Chickening, Jack takes a new job as Senior Chief Night Manager at Charbay's Chicken World, the world's largest chicken themed fast food restaurant and resort. He decides to drink some experimental radioactive volcanic BBQ sauce and begins to transform into a deranged chicken monster.
This is a scene in which Jack is being confronted by his man-boy son, Danny about his odd transformation. I think I chose it because it is one of the scenes that seems to make everyone laugh. The juxtaposition of the older actor's face superimposed on the young boy's head is quite visually striking and ridiculous. This kind of weird visual manipulation was key in turning a horror film into a comedy and this frame is a great example of this augmentation."
— Nick DenBoer, co-director with Davy Force of The Chickening, an "artful visual remix of Stanley Kubrick's classic film The Shining."
"I chose this image because, even though it's a small moment in the film, it highlights so much of what is really special about Wabigoon Lake First nation, where we shot much of the exteriors for Fire Song. The characters in the film are dealing with a lot of hard stuff in their lives, but they are surrounded by this incredible place. It really gets at the heart of Shane's conflict in the film — whether to leave the place he loves, or give up on his dreams of the future."
— Adam Garnet Jones, director of Fire Song, a film about a young Anishinaabe man who is forced to choose between staying in his community or exploring the world outside.
"We chose this still of Rachel Wilson because it represents a turning point in the film, and you can see it on her face. Here she comes to the realization that she's crossed a line and said too much, but still has to defend herself in case the situation is salvageable. It's her confronting her position as an accidental antagonist, and her difficulty accepting that only makes things worse from this moment forward."
— Grayson Moore and Aidan Shipley, co-directors of Boxing, a short film about tension between two women in a boxing class.
"All of my work consists of long, single, uninterrupted shots (or appear to look as if they are). I don't think any is more important than another. I just chose this one because it was the first one that came to mind. Probably I thought of it because I wished I had filmed more of this amazing building in São Paulo."
— Mark Lewis, director of Invention, a cinematic tour through Toronto, São Paolo, and Paris' Musée du Louvre.
"I chose this image of an animated pair of hands reaching for a photo of two young Jewish girls, because it terrifies me a little bit. The drawings are gross, the characters are ugly, and their community is even worse."
"The day we shot this scene will stay with me forever. We were in Sompeta, India, learning about a community movement's struggle against a proposed coal-fired power plant. We set out at dawn. By 9am, it was over 40 degrees celsius and 'it's just a 10 minute walk past the rice paddies' had turned into a 4 hour marathon barefoot slog, schlepping 25 kilogram Pelican cases through razor sharp reeds, interspersed with hair-raising stretches in dugout canoes with hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of equipment in muddy, wet laps. Stress and discomfort were out in force, the documentary's constant companions.
And yet, when we finally started our interview with Rathnakar, all of that evaporated. He was incendiary, articulate, clarion. One of the best interviews we shot for the entire film. Fast forward to early September, 2015. On the eve of the world premiere of the film, the fisherfolk and townspeople of Sompeta just finally won their long struggle."
— Avi Lewis, director of This Changes Everything, a documentary about climate change and the systems that created it, produced in conjunction with Naomi Klein's bestselling book of the same name.