----------------------------Original message----------------------------
>Date:    Sun, 30 Apr 1995 10:58:57 CDT
>From:    Tony Williams <[log in to unmask]>
>Subject: Film school search/?Why not Canada, eh?
>----------------------------Original message----------------------------
>From: Tony Williams
>The reply concerning the level of instruction in Cinema Studies within
>Canada is both highly insulting and ethnocentric. I would suggest the
>recipient conduct further research into this area and note the presence
>of scholars such as Peter Harcourt, Barry K. Grant, Richard Lippe, Kass
>Banning, Robin Wood (retired but still occasionally teaching), Peter Baxter,
>Caryl Flynn, Janine Marcessault, Kay Armatage, Florence Jacobwitz, Susan
>Morrison, Brian McFarland, Scott Irwin and MANY MANY MORE who are at least
>equal to (in several cases better than) many faculty teaching at these
>supposedly more prestigious institutions.
>  I would also suggest some knowledge of the developing area of Canadian
>Cinema taught at several of these institutions be mentioned in any future
>discussions.   Tony Williams.
The fact that Canada has a linguistic duality is a fact, and is recognized
in our Constitution.  Canadians, in general think about the "two solitudes"
almost everyday: look at all the debate and discussion in our media dealing
with the possibility of Quebec Separation.  To make a distinction between
English Canada and French Canada is an honest one.  If by your standards it
is ethnocentric, then fine caterogrize it that (hmm, classification, what
an interesting concept so one can't call someone by their nationality or
linguistic difference, yet it is fine to call someone facist,
ethnocentrist, sounds like a double standard to me), but that is the
current reality of Canada.  In fact, differentiating discourses are even
more specific in Canada's regions:  Western Canada, Central Canada
(Ontario/Quebec), Quebec, the Maritimes, and the Atlantic Provinces. A
discourse based on region has certainly been prominent since the 1960s and
even earlier than that (like try Confederation in 1867).
Not only will I stand by my earlier comments, I actually endorse Yves Lever
comments.  IMHO, Quebec or more specifically, Montreal is the place to
study, if you have a good command of the French Language (OOPS, there I go
again being ethnocentric,... naughty, naughty).  By endorsing French
schools, I hear the wails of condemnation now,  "God damn Cape Bretoner
{Maritimer} selling out to the French :-).  And if you understand the
subtilies of that comment than you know your Canadian regional-politics
quite well.  If you don't understand, don't worry, it'll take too long to
explain.  Suffice it to say that I am not a francophone.
As someone involved at the University of Toronto's Cinema Studies
Programme, and an independent Canadian Filmmaker, I know most of the people
you mentioned, or at least am aquatinted with the names.  Again, none of
them, with the exception of maybe Wood, has the same stature as Annette
Michelson or Robert Stam at NYU, or David Bordwell, and Kristin Thompson at
the University of Wisconsin, at Madison, for example.  Caryl Flinn and Kay
Armatage both teach at the University of Toronto, and I personally know
both of them, since I work with them and have taken courses with Kay in the
past.  Their work is not only not as well known as the American University
professors I just mentioned, IMHO, it not as significant.  Kay Armatage as
a filmmaker or as an administrator is important, but I won't go into the
how's or why's here.
As for Canadian Cinema, IMHO, unless one is studying the advant-avant-garde
(Bruce Elder, Michael Snow, Stan Brakhage when he lived in Toronto in the
late 1980s, Philip Hoffmann, Richard Kerr, etc.), or Quebecois Cinema, it
is really a boring, cinema, especially almost all of the work of the
National Film Board of Canada.  And I am not alone with this view at the
University of Toronto, many (of course not ALL) of the faculty , and
students would agree with this assumption.
B.T.W.  the "Cinema We Need" debate of the mid 1980s, which included
Harcourt, only proved in my mind how out-of-touch Harcourt and his
followers are with regards to Canadian Cinema.  His defense of NFB
propogandist  style "realist" filmmaking shows that he hasn't really
followed or understood the Canadian avant-garde movement of the
1960s-1980s.  The avant-garde has been in the past, more in touch with the
Canadian psyche as expressed by Harold Innis, Marshal McCluhan, and George
Grant:, then the NFB ever was or is.  The critique of technique, and its
impact on a society that is based on communications technology for its
existence (from the railroad in the 1800s to the Anik satellites of today),
is very much present in the avant-garde, and more "in-tune" with Canada as
a whole then say something like the NFB's "The Honour and the Valour".
To sum up:  Go to the states for Graduate level Cinema Studies, or else go
to Montreal.  Undergraduate studies are OK in English Canada (everywhere
other than Quebec), but not much more than that.  As for Canadian Cinema,
"Vive Quebec libre" (apologies to Chuck De Gaulle ;-
Joey Schwartz, Innis College Media Supervisor
University of Toronto |  Tel. (416) 966-0593
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         "Film is Reality at 24fps!"
            -- Jean-Luc Godard