You know that spring is in the air when the clocks skip ahead, flowers start blooming, and the Images Festival returns to liven up Toronto.
Image Festival’s 2020 edition runs from April 16th to 22nd and celebrates independent film and media culture in dialogue with contemporary art. The Toronto-based event features “approximately 17 in-cinema programs, 14 gallery exhibitions, 23 public program events, and four live performances.”
Images Festival 2020 Press Release
Images Festival invites audiences to experience new and independent voices from Canada and across the globe at its 33rd edition, taking place from 16–22 April, 2020.
As one of the most enduring and respected platforms in the world for the exhibition and discourse of independent film and media art, Images continues to explore how moving image works are created, exhibited, and received in the current socio-political moment. The festival invites connections between established artistic practices and vivid new perspectives, with 17 screenings, 14 gallery exhibitions, and four live performances across Toronto.
The 2020 festival is bookended by two feature-length debuts. Our April 16 OPENING NIGHT FILM is the widely anticipated first feature by Sky Hopinka, entitled maɬni — towards the ocean, towards the shore (2020). Making its Canadian premiere, Hopinka’s hybrid documentary offers a poetic portrait of two Indigenous protagonists and their relationships to ritual, community, language, and nature in the Pacific Northwest. The festival’s CLOSING NIGHT FILM on April 22 is a presentation of Nimtoh (Invitation) (2020). This mesmerizing debut of Mumbai-based filmmaker Saurav Rai explores the social dynamics in a remote mountain village through tender cinematography and earnest performances by a non-professional cast, including many of Rai’s own family members.
Expanding the moving image to spaces outside of the cinema, this year’s dynamic LIVE line-up features artist, writer, astrologer, and musician Joanna Hedva. Their performance Black Moon Lilith in Pisces in the 4th House—an ode to their mother— is part mystical grief ritual, part droned-out metal concert. In her ongoing project entitled Red, Berlin-based Indigenous artist Tiara Roxanne will use performance to illustrate the colonial implications in the relationship between Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Indigeneity. UK sound artist Justin Barton will present On Vanishing Land, an audio-essay composed with Mark Fisher, which combines narrative, philosophy, and music to explore human existence. Barton’s event will be presented with an artist talk titled We only have a lifetime to escape: exteriority, terrains, dreamings.
This year’s annual KEYNOTE LECTURE will be delivered by Buffalo-based film critic and scholar Girish Shambu, who will expand on the principles introduced in his influential essay Manifesto for a New Cinephelia.
This year’s CANADIAN SPOTLIGHT features Mohawk multimedia artist Skawennati’s work TimeTraveller™ (2008-2013), a nine-episode web-based work of machinima that follows a time-travelling Mohawk man who tours through key historical moments of his people’s past and present, and witnesses possibilities for their future.
Throughout the festival, audiences will be invited to experience works and be part of conversations with artists that engage a wide range of political topics, from climate change and sex work to tenant rights and incarceration. UK artist and filmmaker Ayo Akingbade will present her recently completed social housing trilogy No News Today at Vtape. Across three short films, the artist examines the contemporary housing landscape in London, UK, while exploring the role of film in stimulating political consciousness. The shorts program Good Look Now features works that centre the natural world, and the things that live within it: Ishu Patel’s 1977 animated short Bead Game suggests how political patterns since time immemorial impose a limitation on our planetary moment, while Ben River’s Now, At Last! (2018) is a durational portrait of a loveable sloth named Cherry. Los Angeles and London-based artist Patrick Staff’s The Prince of Homburg (2019) examines the exhausting effects of state oppression as reflected in America’s prison system and gender discrimination, while our Student program in support of sex work, guest-curated by Almond Lindenbach, celebrates a cross-section of contemporary works by and for sex workers, in direct response to recent internet legislations that have impacted sex workers’ safety and restricted online discourses around pornography, consent, and genitalia.
Works that re-envision the nature of documentary also feature prominently in the 2020 festival’s line-up. Two recent mid-length works from London-based filmmaker, artist, musician, and curator Morgan Quaintance—South (2020) and Letter from Dakar (2019)—make use of documentary techniques to explore the power of individual and collective voices in anti-authoritarian and cultural spaces in South London, Chicago, and Dakar. The Counter-Image is a program that combines short works by the singular German filmmaker Harun Farocki with a series of video essays by filmmaker and video-essayist Kevin B. Lee. Lee—the first artist-in-residence of the newly formed Harun Farocki Institut in Berlin—produced these works on Farocki for the Goethe-Institut, applying novel strategies to unpack how images can be used to study each other. Yashaswini Raghunandan’s That Cloud Never Left (2019) is a lyrical rumination on fact and fiction, picture and sound, and the unusual lifespan of Bollywood, Tollywood, and B-grade films in a small rural village in Bengal, India.
In Chloé Galibert-Laîné’s Watching the Pain of Others (2019), the artist unpacks Penny Lane’s The Pain of Others (2016), a self-referential desktop documentary that compiles footage from YouTube channels operated by three women affected by Morgellons.
Images Festival continues to program historical works that create intergenerational dialogue, and reinforce the significance of artistic practices beyond the contemporary moment. This edition of the festival includes a program of early experimental animations by Evelyn Lambart—the first woman animator to join the National Film Board of Canada. A selection of her groundbreaking works in dialogue with her collaborator Norman McLaren will also be screened on loop at Museum of Contemporary Art Toronto (MOCA) over the festival’s opening weekend. Some of Lambart’s works in this program are also present throughout Images’ ON Screen programs. A collection of shorts entitled People on Sunday focuses on the act of filmmaking itself, and situates the late Robert Frank’s playful Beat classic Pull My Daisy alongside new works by Nazlı Dinçel, Thirza Cuthand, and Tulapop Saenjaroen. Our 2020 Student Program grounds experimental new media works by emerging artists with an in-cinema presentation of Annie Sprinkle’s performance for video, Post-Porn Modernist: My 25 Years as a Multimedia Whore (1993).
The festival is pleased to be co-presenting 14 original exhibitions across the GTA, including Galia Eibenschutz (Red. Blue. Orange. Yellow. Linescapes) at YYZ Artists’ Outlet, Beck G-Osborne, Maddie Alexander, Nala Ismacil and Dana Buzzee (behind the curtain) at Xpace Cultural Centre; Ayo Akingbade (No News Today: The Social Housing Trilogy) at Vtape; Tiara Roxanne (Into the Red) at Trinity Square Video; Luther Konadu (Camerawork) at Hamilton Artists Inc.; Jess Dobkin (Wetrospective) at the Art Gallery of York University (AGYU); Silvia Kolbowski (A Few Howls Again, guest-curated by Magdalyn Asimakis, Jared Quinton, and Alexandra Symons Sutcliffe) at Gallery 44; Aleesa Cohene (Kathy) at shell; Ricarda Roggan (KINO) at Goethe Media Space at the Goethe-Institut Toronto; Danielle Hyde, Jaene F. Castrillon, Kate Meawasige, Louis Esmé (Thaumaturgy) at Tangled Art Gallery, co-presented with Charles Street Video; Johanna Hedva, Black Quantum Futurism (Rasheedah Phillips + Camae Ayewa / Moor Mother), Susan Blight, Justin Barton + Mark Fisher, Midi Onodera, Shattered Moon Alliance (Christina Battle + Serena Lee), Andy Slater, Simon M. Benedict and Vera Frenkel (Postcards from the Antipodes) at Toronto Media Arts Centre (TMAC); Charlotte Zhang (Pine Street); Native Art Department International (Bureau of Aesthetics) at Mercer Union; and Evelyn Lambart (Begone Dull Care: Nine Fables and Abstractions) at the MOCA.
Images Festival runs from April 16 – 22, 2020.