Archive for March, 2011

25 Mar 2011

Chambers: Tracks and Gestures (Excerpt)

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Here is a clip from an award winning film I produced in 1981-82:  a biography of the Canadian painter Jack Chambers.  I worked with director/cinematographer John Walker and Altantis Films.  

“… a fascinating and invaluable portrait.”
J. Hoberman, THE VILLAGE VOICE (New York)

“One of Canada’s most
important artists… a painter
of fierce dedication and uncompromising vision.”

Shot on location in Spain and Canada, this visually lyrical film provides a carefully constructed narrative of the artist’s complex, inspired life. As a young art student Chambers left the provincial town of London, Ontario in the early 1950’s and sailed to Naples. In Spain he broke into Picasso’s house to ask him for advice, and ended up enrolling at the Academy of Fine Arts in Madrid. He lived in Spain for nine years, and when he came back to Canada he brought with him an artistic discipline as sharp as Spanish steel, a sophisticated Argentinean wife, and a new religion—Catholicism. The film includes the full range of Chambers’ work up until his death at the age of 47 including oil paintings, drawings and experimental films. His effort to integrate the influences of photography and to reconcile abstract art with the conservative technical tradition that he embraced in Spain reflects the central conflicts that have defined artistic expression in the 20th century. For the last nine years of his life, Chambers struggled with leukemia, traveling as far as India in search of a cure, yet during his last years he produced much of his most radiant work.

“…reveals the heightened perception and transcendence
that comes after terrible inner struggle. Exquisite…”

“Strong, precise, romantic and real…
a moving picture of Jack Chambers… an acknowledged art hero.”

Tracks and Gestures includes penetrating interviews with Jungian analyst and writer Marion Woodman, critic and scholar Ross Woodman, multimedia artist and co-founder of Canadian Artists Representation (CAR) Kim Ondaatje, and the great Spanish realist painter Antonio Lopez. It also includes original footage of masterpieces by Goya, El Greco, Velazquez, and Rembrandt from the Prado Museum in Madrid. The film has a delightful original musical score, and is narrated by two of Canada’s finest actors, Ted Johns and Cedric Smith.

I also wrote about a short review essay about the 2012 Jack Chambers exhibit at the Art Gallery of Ontario in The Mark News.


BEST DOCUMENTARY over 30 minutes,
CFTA (GENIE) Awards, 1982
Canadian Society of Cinematographers Awards, 1983
Canadian Film Editors Awards, 1983
BEST FILM OF THE FESTIVAL, Yorkton Film Festival, 1983
BEST HUMAN CONDITION FILM, Yorkton Film Festival, 1983
BRONZE MEDAL, Houston International Film Festival, 1983
BLUE RIBBON for Best Documentary,
American Film Festival, New York 1984

The 56 minute film can be purchased on DVD at the Art Gallery of Ontario, or directly from Ecotone.

24 Mar 2011

Camping On Walden Pond

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This fresh look at Thoreau’s life in the woods may surprise you.

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24 Mar 2011

The Last Humanitarian

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After I left Médecins Sans Frontières in 2002, it took me some time to sort out my thoughts and feelings about that extraordinary organization. This work, the major paper for my Masters degree at U of T, provided me with the needed catharsis. I was invited to publish an abridged version in Disasters Journal (UK), a leading publication in the international relief field, but other work drew my attention away from these issues.

What if greater transparency and consistency of words and deeds leads to greater effectiveness, or at least greater moral authority in difficult situations?

Pakistani gun merchant (Photo by Chris Lowry)

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