ED, Sept-Oct 2005

Message from the Executive Director (Film Print Volume 25 Issue 5, September 2005)

Three important developments will occur this September, and they will all have a profound effect on the independent film community in Toronto.

FIrst and foremost, Shine it On!, LIFT’s annual celebration of filmmaking, will take place, for the first time, at the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art (MOCCA), a venue all too appropriate given our continued emphasis on filmmaking as an artistic practice. This year’s fundraises will feature our largest silent auction to date, and we will be auctioning off everything (and we mean everything) that one could need to make a film. For filmmakers and non-filmmakers alike, a wide variety of services (massages, yoga lessons, dinners for two from fine restaurants) will also be up for auction.

Of course, the jewel of the evening will be the 12th Salon de Refuses – our annual showcase for all the loveable losers who had the misfortune of getting their short films rejected by the Toronto International Film Festival. LIFT will continue its tradition of reimbursing the TIFF entry fees for all participants in the salon. All films screened at the salon are chosen randomly – we draw the rejection letters from a hat – and then shown in the order selected. This anti-curatorial festival is always filled with great surprises. The festivities take place Tuesday, September 6 at MOCCA.

The second notable event this month – it is my pleasure to announce – is that Sammi van Ingen will be LIFT’s 2005 Artist in Residence. Sami will be arriving in late September to create a new 35mm film on our optical printer. Sami’s most recent film Fokus was one of the highlights of the Images Festival last April. With Fokus, Sami demonstrated the remarkable ability to create a wonderfully meditative film from archival super-8 footage shot in India. Under the auspices of our popular exhibition series New Directions in Cinema, LIFT will co-present, with Pleasure Dome, a retrospective of Sami’s incredible films in early October.

Now for the bad news. It is with much sadness that I acknowledge the departure of Susan Oxtoby as Director of Programming at Cinematheque Ontario. Susan has been named new Senior Film Curator at the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive. Their gain is our loss. Back in the day – we’re talking ten years ago – there were only a few places one could go to watch non-commercial films in Toronto. The Cinematheque Ontario played an integral part in the independent/avant-garde/experimental community in Toronto. As a programmer, Susan invited artists from all over the world as well as working directly with local filmmakers. Susan created such wonderful programs as The Independents, a free weekly forum devoted to alternative film (typically bringing artists in to speak about their work), and Wavelengths, TIFF’s experimental film showcase. The Cinematheque is by far the best cinema in the city for showing 16mm film.

Most importantly, Susan raised the curatorial bar for film in the city. Her passion for programming and her ability to seek out and expose new artists set a standard that will be hard to match. Although there are certainly many more film festivals in Toronto than there were ten years ago, Susan’s departure will leave an immense void; we’re losing one of film art’s greatest and most knowledgeable advocates. Susan, you will be missed. We wish you well.

Roberto Ariganello