While documentary is in itself an art form, often called “informational art,” documentaries that focus on other art forms or artists working in various art milieus are uniquely positioned as works that examine art via art.
In recent years many such “art docs” have been produced in Canada, yet these films and videos remain mostly relegated to specialized festivals or special sections within festivals – ultimately diminishing their audience reach and their impact toward an understanding, appreciation and support of independent media arts and visual arts in Canada and elsewhere.
Outside of a short-lived festival circuit and inclusion within the academic spaces of cinema and art classes, a film like Marielle Nitoslawska’s Breaking the Frame, for instance, has a limited public presence. Other works that celebrate “activist artists” like ART IN ACTION (Magnus Isacsson and Simon Bujold) do not even enjoy much of a festival run, and outside of grassroots and activist screening initiatives, face equal limitations when making their presence felt in the social imaginary.
Yet Canada is also bestowed with a vibrant and robust network of art galleries, artist-run centres and art spaces that exhibit every kind of art all year round, from coast to coast to coast. While some of these spaces do show film and video installations, experience suggests that there is a disconnect where documentary is concerned.
Documentary was traditionally thought to only have resonance on television, but feature-length documentaries at commercial cinemas and film festivals have shown that there is a demand outside of broadcast media for the genre. Cinema Politica strives to offer an alternative network to commercial, broadcast and festival dissemination models, by showing film and video outside of this system, usually at campuses and at alternative community venues. One option we have only recently considered and that we have determined is an overlooked space for the genre, is galleries and art spaces in Canada.
To grow appreciation and support for non-fiction media arts, through our ArtDox program we work with several galleries across Canada to both screen and collaborate on community screenings of documentaries about art or artists. We are also enlisting the support of campus art and cinema departments in order to help publicize the screenings, and to help get arts students out to attend events.
Finally, we are working with galleries and art space organizers as well as artists to organize artists talks around the screenings.
Stay tuned for upcoming screenings!
The ArtDox program is supported by the Canada Council for the Arts and Conseil des arts et des lettres Québec.