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MFA - DOCUMENTARY MEDIA

Students in the Documentary Media MFA program create both a visual thesis project and a support paper for the project.  The following abstracts are from the support papers and provide a concise summary of the concerns addressed in the thesis project.

Class 2016

Alexandra Simpson

Alyssa Bistonath

Angie Ready

Anureet Caur

Cyrus Sundar Singh

Ebti Nabag

Elyse Bouvier

Frances Juriansz

Golzar Taravati

Grayson Richards

Lynne Fox

Mark Tremblay

Martin Franchi

Michaela Colville

Philip Skoczkowski

Shivanya Mulekar

Shounak Ganguly

Sophie Sabet

Tamar Mankassarian

Stephanie Power

 

Alexandra Simpson

Alexandra Simpson is an interdisciplinary theatre artist with a background in dance, music, play writing and directing. She has created and produced a number of audience-immersive and site-specific shows that focus on the role of the individual within collective society. She is interested in how artistic practice and activism converge and how degrowth environmentalism can be applied to consumer cultures.

Terra Incognita = unknown or unexplored territory. We live in a world in which economic and personal growth is a prerequisite to being human. The alternative lies in what has yet to be explored. Confined by what we are told and know as the good life, we must choose, will we degrow on our own initiative or will we continue until the biosphere forces us to stop? This is a performance documentary work that involves collective creation and theatre mask technique to explore our complicity within growth culture and the potential degrowth alternative. The work uses interviews from researchers at Research & Degrowth, the collective’s own experiences creating the piece, documentation of pop-up performances around the city of Toronto and community partnerships.

Alyssa Bistonath

Alyssa Bistonath is a Toronto-based photographer and filmmaker whose work investigates memory, intimacy, and diaspora. The daughter of Guyanese immigrants, Bistonath offers a new nostalgia – images that are simultaneously fresh and evocative of family mementos. Alongside Bistonath’s commercial practice she has exhibited in Canada, the United States, and Europe.

Why We Fight is a love letter to the country of Bistonath’s parents’ birth – Guyana, a place with little visibility internationally despite its talent, and startling statistics like being the “suicide capital” of the world. The film juxtaposes the memories of the diaspora with the lives of four individuals living in Guyana.

Angie Ready

Angie Ready is a filmmaker and photographer based in Toronto. She holds a BA in English from the University of Victoria. She is interested in experimental and poetic means of expression, engaging in both small-gauge (Super 8) film and DSLR video.

Perforations is a personal, experimental film that explores the residue and layers of memory through the emotional landscape of the artist’s entrance into middle age; the project navigates the ephemeral nature of memory, loss, absence, frailty, complexity and, ultimately, renewal in life through the interconnections and legacies over three generations.

Anureet Caur

Anureet Caur is a Toronto-based filmmaker from India. She believes that art can contribute to social change, which is reflected in her films. Her debut documentary film, Why Are We Killing Our Daughters? (2007), focused on the issue of female foeticide in India and earned her the United Nations Population Funds Laadli Media Award. Her documentary Farmicide highlighted the issue of agrarian crises in Punjab, India. She continues to nourish her skills in documentary filmmaking through Ryerson’s MFA program.

Cyrus Sundar Singh


Ebti Nabag

Ebti Nabag is a Sudanese-Canadian photographer and installation artist. Her current work is influenced by her Sudanese culture; her past projects have investigated stories from the average individual that speak to the collective human experience. Nabag’s previous exhibits include Vitiligo at the AGO (2015) and I Am Not My Hair at the Beaver Hall Gallery (2012).

Movement In Tradition:Tobe is an installation that explores the traditional Sudanese garment the tobe, which is usually worn by Sudanese women after marriage. The project set out to explore the longevity of the tobe in Canada, but ultimately resulted in a comprehensive look at its past, present and future. The many layers and implications of the tradition of the tobe become apparent through mother-and- daughter interviews, which also elicit contrasting views about the garment.

Elyse Bouvier

Elyse Bouvier is a Western-Canadian photographer based in Toronto. Since completing a B.Comm at Mount Royal University, Bouvier spent time in London, UK, where her fascination with the intersections of food, culture and identity grew. She has presented her food-based research in Canada and the UK.

Royal Cafe is a journey through rural Alberta’s landscape, streets, and small town Chinese-Western restaurants. A collage-like installation of photos, sound, food, and material, the work seeks to invite wonder while exploring the complex relationship between food, place, and Canadian cultural hybridity.    

Frances Juriansz

Born in Bangkok, Frances Juriansz is a Toronto-based photographer and video artist who works on both commercial and personal projects. Her clients include Time, Travel + Leisure, Ski, enRoute, Fairmont Hotels, TD Bank and Acura, among others. Her latest project focuses on her three favourite things: people, lush landscape and movement to portray an invisible state of wonder. Juriansz’s work has been recognized by the Eddie & Ozzie Awards, the North American Travel Journalist Association and the Advertising & Design Club of Canada.

Gravity is Quiet is a three-channel video installation that explores the possibility of creating a portrait of a state of mind. The optimal state of consciousness, called flow, reveals a subtle and hidden world of true presence and untapped potential. Can immersive art create an embodied experience?

Grayson Richards

Grayson Richards is an interdisciplinary artist from Vancouver, currently living and working in Toronto. His work aims to complicate globalist narratives by identifying (or constructing) points of overlap and friction as they vie for influence. He holds a BFA from Emily Carr University of Art + Design and his MFA research was supported by the Ontario Graduate Scholarship in both 2014 and 2015.

An Impeccable State is an installation drawing on found and constructed archives in a meditation on histories of social deviancy within the context of an imperial, homogenizing globalism. Through thoughtful juxtaposition, Richards traces a narrative thread, drawing connections across time and between the myriad institutions and infrastructures that have developed in response to the sometimes “undesirable” plurality of the human condition.

Lynne Fox

Lynne Fox is a UK-born artist. With over two decades of experience within the visual arts, she has developed a practice that continuously reflects her interest in the representation of truth. She has a BA (Hons) in Editorial Photography from the University of Brighton, UK, and has studied under renowned British photographers Mark Power and Paul Reas. In 2015, she was recognized with the Gary Cwitco and Fern Valin Social Justice Award and earned first place in Ryerson’s GRAD Snapshot Awards. In 2016, she was awarded first place in the GRAD 60-second video award.

Our Steve is Fox’s personal quest to find out exactly what happened at what is now known as the Hillsborough Disaster. On April 15, 1989, at the FA Cup semi-final football match at Hillsborough Stadium in Sheffield, UK, ninety-six men, women and children were crushed to death. The artist’s brother, Thomas Steven Fox, was one of those who died that day. Twenty-six years after the worst sporting disaster in British history, the fight for justice and peace finally has an arena. With new inquests into the deaths opened in April 2014, Our Steve looks at the process of having twenty-six-year-old questions answered and the effects the inquests have had on the artist and her family members.

Mark Tremblay

Mark Tremblay’s love of metal music and culture began when he first listened to Megadeth’s “Rust in Peace” at the rebellious age of thirteen. Since then, he has been educating people on Canadian metal music with his radio show, Metal on Metal, previously on the CFRC in Kingston, Ontario, and now at Ryerson’s The Scope.

Heavy Metal Thunder is a documentary film that explores Canada’s heavy metal scene and what drives artists to create its songs. This film demonstrates the impact of metal on Canada and on those who make the music.

Martin Franchi

Martin Franchi spent his formative years in Toronto’s Parkdale neighbourhood and continues to reside there. His wanderings around High Park and Toronto’s surrounding industrial areas developed his curiosity in the altered environment and motivated him to photograph his backyard and beyond.

Are public spaces really designed for public use? Public Space is an exhibition utilizing photography and video that investigates privately-owned public spaces that have become more prevalent in our urban environment. Are they spaces that invite public use or discourage it?

Michaela Colville

Mikaela Colville is a recent graduate from McMaster University with a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) in Anthropology and Multimedia. She is currently completing Ryerson University’s Masters of Fine Arts in Documentary Media, a field that combines her interest in cultural anthropology with her love for film production.

The Flight examines the Canadian operation that evacuated a group of Vietnamese children from Saigon during the final days of the Vietnam War. These children were flown from Saigon to Hong Kong and, eventually, to Toronto, Canada. Many of these children were adopted by local families, and came with no records; however, approximately thirty years later, they were reunited with each other.

Philip Skoczkowski

Philip Skoczkowski is a multidisciplinary researcher/ practitioner whose work revolves around contemporary citizen engagement, culture and development. Motivated by his background in international development and politically charged work, Philip is currently exploring the relationship between space, sound, and the importance of music culture as social capital.

Sonic City is photo-based a/v documentary which explores the relationships between urban development and music culture. With places and spaces at the core of the project, Sonic City aims to shed light onto music production, consumption, and its dissemination across Toronto and beyond.

Shivanya Mulekar

Shivanya Mulekar is a researcher, talent scout and content developer for lifestyle and reality television shows. Mulekar worked in the Indian broadcasting industry for more than seven years, creating award-winning drama series and children’s shows.

Sanctuary, a virtual reality documentary uses 360-camera technique, it raises questions about undocumented immigrants, the concept of sanctuaries in Canada and the conditions of refugee families waiting for their hearings and for a second chance to live freely in Canada. The film explores the undocumented Juhasz family and their limited space inside a church, the space that they call home. The audience is offered an opportunity to share this same space virtually and be with the family, witnessing the hope and the positive spirit that keeps them fighting the system with limited means and with tremendous support from the local community. Merging documentary storytelling with virtual reality, Sanctuary will be presented in the form of an exhibit using Google cardboard and iPhones.

Shounak Ganguly

Shounak Ganguly is a filmmaker, specialized in video editing and cinematography, based in Toronto, Canada. His work explores the themes of urban conservation along with the histories of the South Asian Diaspora. Shounak holds a Master of Fine Arts in Documentary Media from Ryerson University and a BA Honors in Communication, Media, and Film from the University of Windsor.

Chalamaan (চলমান) is a documentary film that journeys aboard the last remaining tram (streetcar) service in the Indian subcontinent: the Kolkata tram system, which has survived a century of upheavals and continues to remain operational despite the threats of vested interests and administrative apathy.

Sophie Sabet

Sophie Sabet is an emerging media artist working predominantly in video. As an Iranian-born woman raised in Canada, her work focuses on exploring identity and the influences of the diasporic experience within the domestic sphere. She holds a BA in Art History from Queen’s University.

Since We Last Spoke is an autobiographical three-channel video installation that explores the intricacies and tribulations of a modern Iranian-Canadian home. Sabet invites the viewer to witness the impact of the migration experience through an intimate portrait of her own family. Employing personal video footage and recorded conversations between family members, the installation reveals a family coping with interpersonal and cultural frictions caused by displacement.

Tamar Mankassarian

Tamar Mankassarian is a Toronto-based filmmaker who was raised in the United Arab Emirates. With a background in theatre, her engagement with storytelling has evolved into a passion for non-fiction filmmaking. Her own hybridized and multicultural experience fuels her interest in exploring diaspora, global perspectives and identity construction.

Hyphen is a conversational, impressionistic film that follows the lives and perspectives of three culturally hybridized individuals living in different cities around the world. Each is trying to negotiate being a constant outsider while also trying to connect with people and transcend gaps in cultural understanding in their different fields. The film examines the changing nature in which we define ourselves in a global era and points to the shift away from a single national identity.

Stephanie Power

Stephanie Power is an accomplished illustrator, photographer, art director and educator. Her street photography is inspired by the hidden narratives, details and juxtapositions she discovers through walking and contemplating the city around her. Her work has been honoured by the AIGA, The Art Directors Club of New York, Applied Arts, The National Magazine Awards and the ADCC. She teaches illustration at OCADU.

MY NY // DELUXE PICTURE BOOK is a photo collage scrapbook of New York City. The act of walking through New York with a camera is an act of reflecting: the artist also reflects upon her family’s relationship with the city, using her father’s photographs as a counterpoint to her own. Power’s walks through the city are both aspirational and aesthetic, bound by the inescapable extremes that it presents. New York looms large in the collective imagination, resulting in a myriad of versions. MY NY // DELUXE PICTURE BOOK is the artist’s interpretation of the city.

 

Class 2015

Miya Akiyama

Katherine Anderson

Kathryn Atkinson

Gesilayefa Azorbo

Vivian Belik

Siobhan Brannigan

Giulia Ciampini

Michèle Pearson Clarke

Karin Culliton

Chantal Dignard

Briar Gorton

John Higgins

Zile Liepins

Anna Mclean

Vincenzo Pietropaolo

Juan Pablo Pinto Mendoza

Kelly Showker

Miya Akiyama

Miya Akiyama is an interdisciplinary artist based in Toronto. A graduate from the University of Toronto in Equity Studies and Diaspora and Transnational Studies, her work explores themes of cultural dissonance, remnants and remains. She is interested in bridging lived realities, imagination and the fantastical.

Aos Si is a documentary video-based installation that illuminates the presence of unseen agencies that influence life out on Ireland’s most south-westerly point – Mizen Head. Mizen Head has done its best to keep the old ways alive, but times are changing and the rural lifestyle the peninsula once offered is becoming lost in the name of modernity and development. Rituals and folklore that once prevailed with the belief of the mystical, magical and supernatural are lost in Mizen Head and Aos Si immerses the audience in the sites and scenarios that once nurtured this lost way of thinking. Playing with elements of the fantastical, the installation asks the audience to extend its imagination, letting go of adherence to reality, fact and truth.

Katherine Anderson

Katie Anderson is a Toronto-based filmmaker and new media artist. Blending traditional film practices with elements of digital media, her work interrogates topics related to history, technology and identity. Anderson holds a Bachelor of Journalism and History from Carleton University.

Text to Play is a portrait of emerging video game artist Kara Stone, an aspiring digital media artist striving to make a name for herself in a predominantly masculine videogame industry. Stone, and game designers like her, are revealing the potential for games to create unique experiences and speak to otherwise marginalized audiences.  As independent games like Stone’s become more common, the question of what defines a videogame will be more contentious. Text to Play explores this question as it follows Stone to California where she shows her text-based game, Sext Adventure, at a gaming festival.

Text to Play draws on familiar arcade aesthetics while challenging expectations about videogames and highlighting issues of gender and sexuality in videogames and in the gaming industry more broadly.

Kathryn Atkinson

Kathryn Atkinson is a Toronto-based documentary filmmaker. Atkinson received a BA in Anthropology and Global Studies from the Wilfred Laurier University. Her work is influenced by her activism in social justice and her background in visual anthropology. She is interested in the links between capitalism, media and beauty ideals and explores these connections through blending collage, animation and video.

Don't Fix It is a short documentary that reveals physical insecurities and body image struggles between female family members of a family. It beings with a simple question from a daughter to a mother, "When you look at your daughters and they're never happy with the way they look, ever, none of us are, what do you think about that?"  To which she replies, "To me they're all just beautiful."  Her own physical insecurities and denials are reflected upon alongside two of her daughters.  

 

Gesilayefa Azorbo

Gesilayefa Azorbo is a Toronto-based writer, photographer and filmmaker. She writes about music, film and pop culture. Her films explore themes related to music, creativity and compelling personalities. She is also inspired by cinema verité and direct cinema, immersing herself in her subjects' worlds to understand the person behind the larger-than-life persona.

Indie Womyn is a documentary film that examines the experiences and challenges of being an independent female performer in the music industry. Alysha Brilla is a young, award-winning singer/songwriter and self-identifying feminist who left her record label to work independently, and subsequently released a debut album that met with critical acclaim. The film follows Brilla's progress as she crafts her follow-up album WOMYN - which focuses on issues of empowerment, feminism and human rights - and engages with the artist's political views as expressed through her song-writing and in interviews.

 

Vivian Belik

Vivian Belik has been creating media since 2009, first for newspapers and magazines and then as a journalist for CBC.  She has worked as a researcher on several documentaries and is currently developing a feature documentary about guaranteed income in Canada. Her work often focuses on social justice issues and is influenced by the time she spent living in the North.

Tracing Lillian is a personal quest to understand Lillian Alling, who spent three years walking from New York to Siberia. Through the filmmaker’s narration of a modern-day hike along the Yukon Telegraph Trail, Tracing Lillian searches for remnants of Lillian’s journey. This short documentary uses animated sequences, archival footage and the filmmaker’s present-day footage of the Telegraph trail.

 

Siobhan Brannigan

Siobhan Brannigan holds a BFA in Photography Studies from Ryerson University. Her work explores identity and mental health awareness. In 2014 Brannigan won the Social Justice Documentary Award from Ryerson University for A Positive From A Negative: Coping with Mental Illness. She intends to continue using her photography to engage her audience and promote change and discussion.

 

A Positive from a Negative: Coping with Mental Illness is a multi-media documentary about the resilience of people coping with mental illness in Canada. The project consists of interviews with individuals in each province and showcases the power of art and storytelling. The documentary contributes to a vital discussion about mental health by creating a space for people to observe, listen and talk about their own personal experiences. It becomes a safe space for people to learn and for people to teach about mental illness. Through photography, audio and online presence, the documentary provides some understanding of living successfully with mental illness and acknowledges the ongoing hardships involved in the process.

 www.apositivefromanegative.org

Giulia Ciampini

Giulia Ciampini is a photographer from Toronto. Since 2009 she has been running her own wedding and portrait photography business, Giulia Ciampini Photography. She is an Ontario Certified Teacher with a Bachelor of Science and a Master of Science in Education. She lives her life with a camera in hand and finds it allows her access to discussions and understanding that would not be possible otherwise.

Senza Parole is a multimedia installation using film, interviews, photographs and objects to tell the story of a young Italian family who emigrate from their small rural town in Italy to build a better life in Canada in 1958. Less than two decades after they arrive, the family’s youngest daughter Rosie, who is Ciampini’s great aunt, dies tragically at the age of 22, leaving behind a five-year-old daughter and two-year-old son. Through interviews, archival photographs, official documents, police records, newspaper clippings and family heirlooms, Ciampini attempts to reconstruct her family’s past and uncover the truth behind Rosie’s death. Senza Parole speaks to the poetic but elusive nature of memory, so inherently fragmented an flawed and attempts to give words to what was left unsaid.

    

 

Michèle Pearson Clarke

Michèle Pearson Clarke is a Trinidad-born artist who works in photography, film, video and installation. Using archival, performative and process-oriented strategies, her work explores queer and black diasporic longing and loss.

Parade of Champions is a three-channel video installation that explores grief experiences of three black queer people following the deaths of their mothers. Employing still video portraits and audio interviews, this immersive three-channel installation invites viewers to bear witness to this black queer grief.

 

Karin Culliton

Karin Culliton is a Toronto-based filmmaker, art director and photographer. She earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Visual Arts from York University, winning numerous awards for her photography. While at Ryerson University, Culliton has been pursuing filmmaking as her medium in order to shine light on issues that might otherwise remain in the dark.

Moving Still Life is a short documentary film about the plight of homeless youth in Toronto. On any given night, 1,500 - 2,000 youth are homeless in Toronto, but the current shelters can house only 418. Often misunderstood as rebellious, the primary reason for their homelessness is, in fact, family conflict. Moving Still Life follows two youth, Joel and Brandon, each in a different stage of the shelter experience, and shows how a connection to the arts can play a positive and dramatic role in helping one to thrive, not just survive.  The research conducted on this film expands on the serious issues homeless youth face, as well as how the arts can be a crucial tool in their search for independence.

 

Chantal Dignard

Chantel Dignard is a Toronto-based documentary filmmaker with an interest in social justice and political issues. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Stage and Screen Studies from Queen's University in 2013. Her work focusses on Canadian medical marijuana policy.  Dignard is especially interested in using compelling personal stories to expose greater injustice.

Growing Pains examines how changes in Canadian policy would impact medical marijuana patients. The proposed new regulations would prohibit approved medical patients from continuing to produce their own medication, forcing them to buy it from government-approved facilities at a drastically higher cost. For many patients, especially those who rely on disability support programs as a source of income, this is not a financially viable option.

 

Briar Gorton

Briar Gorton was born in Vancouver and is a Toronto-based filmmaker and entrepreneur. Gorton holds a BA from the University of British Columbia and a postgraduate diploma in Design Management from Ryerson University. She previously worked the photography company Lomography before venturing into documentary filmmaking. Her appreciation for minimalist aesthetics is evident in her storytelling style. 

 Parallel Lines is a story about Gorton’s decision to actively search for her biological parents with the hope of resolving historical questions and satisfy curiosities that come with adulthood. Her adoption was never kept secret, and she grew up in a loving home that always affirmed her decision to look for her natural parents. Discussions about her adoption however, take an unexpected turn when her parents reveal their discomfort at the thought of someone else being present in her lift. Gorton is faced with gently balancing concerns of the family she knows and loves with preparing for unknown consequences of her search and what will happen when Parallel Lines meet.

Jon Higgins

Jon Higgins is an independent filmmaker. In 2005, he won the best documentary award at the University of Western Ontario's Film Festival and, as a result, had his film premiere at the year's London International Film Festival. In 2008, he was the recipient of the National Film Board of Canada's Filmmaker Assistance Program grant. In 2011, he won a scholarship for a narrative feature-length screenplay.

The Unspoken Known is an interview-based documentary that explores the presence, or lack thereof, of individuals who have physical disabilities within the Canadian workforce. The documentary focuses on the depiction of such issues as social stigma, corporate outlook and myths and miscomprehensions of physical disabilities.

 

Zile Liepins

Zile Liepins is a photographer and graphic artist whose documentary work tells stories through the combination of photography, text and design. Liepins was recognized with the 2014 SF Graduate Thesis Production Award in Documentary Media and was selected for a 2015 Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival featured exhibition for her work in No One Says Anything, Everyone Remembers Everything.

 No One Says Anything, Everyone Remembers Everything is a documentary photo and text essay that examines everyday life in the transitory political present of Latvia, a country emerging from the remnants of the Soviet Union and adapting to a new European identity, with one eye uneasily fixed on its Russian neighbour. Shot in Latvia over two years, the work functions as a coded visual language of cultural symbols and personal references that create a rich portrait of a place and time.

Anna MacLean

Anna MacLean hails from the blustery shored of Nova Scotia and spent her formative years relentlessly exploring the arts. She is a graduate of Capilano University's Documentary Filmmaking program, and her work has since won her a variety of awards and accolades, and landed her with a number of rewarding opportunities with the NFB, Showcase and YTV.

Boom, Baby, Boom is a short documentary that explores the meaning of mortality and creativity in a time of crisis. In Boom, Baby, Boom we meet Banuta, a highly successful and eclectic theatre director, writer and performer. Two years previously, Banuta and her husband Nic – a saxophonist and composer – were informed that Nic had terminal cancer and would not live for more than a year. During his last 12 months, in an effort to blur the lines between life and death with the power of art, Nic and Banuta created more than they ever thought imaginable. In this film, Banuta reflects on the very last day of Nic’s life, and the surprising lessons she has learned since.

Vincenzo Pietropaolo

Vincenzo Pietropaolo is a social documentary photographer whose lifelong mission is to document Canada's immigrant communities, working-class culture and social justice issues. Pietropaolo has distinguished himself as a photographic book-maker, combining photographs with his own original writing. He has exhibited internationally and his work is currently featured in the Canadian Museum for Human Rights.

Ritual: Good Friday in Toronto’s Italian Immigrant Community 1969-2015 is a book of some 100 photographs and texts, as well as an accompanying exhibition that document the Good Friday procession – an elaborate event that takes place annually in the streets of the historic Italian community in Toronto. Consisting of multiple re-enactments with amateur actors and statues of Biblical tableaux depicting the “Via Crucis” (the Way of the Cross), the event commemorates the passion and death of Jesus Christ, one of the most fundamental rituals of Christianity. Tens of thousands of people attend each year to walk in reverence or to stand on the sidelines as observers.  Since 1969, year after year, Vincenzo Pietropaolo is there drifting among the crowds, interacting with the participants, and photographing the event in this annual pilgrimage which has become his own personal ritual as a documentary photo artist.

 

Juan Pablo Pinto Mendoza

Juan Pablo Pinto Mendoza is a Colombian-born digital storyteller who utilizes photography and film to explore identity, culture, memory and discourse. He draws on poetic and experimental approaches as well as magical realism and through his work, challenges his audience to question notions of nationhood and belonging in their everyday interactions.

 A Stranger’s Winter Tale brings together narratives and myths about winter in Canada as well as archival and recent footage highlighting the centrality of winter in everyday Canadian life.  Particular attention is paid to discourses that create a collective identity based on winter experiences how these relate to people’s perceptions of belonging and national identity. By capturing visual snowscapes and soundscapes of winter, the filmmaker seeks to contrast idealized and everyday accounts of snow. Overall, this film aims to help the audience see the very well-defined Canadian elements of snow and winter from the point of view of the other – one who has adapted to the weather but remains estranged from it. 

 

Kelly Showker

Kelly Showker is a filmmaker from Weyer's Cave, Virginia. Prior to pursuing her MFA, Shower worked for the US Government for eight years in Uganda, Cameroon and Canada. She is committed to expanding normative conceptions in visual media. Shower holds a Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies from Virginia Commonwealth University and the University of California, Berkeley.

Etima is an autobiographical film in which a single mother attempts to build a new life with her seven-year-old daughter as the pair travel from their previous life in Uganda and Cameroon to their current life in Canada. The film reflects on the impact of sexual assault and family violence on parenting a young, mixed-race child.  Using home movies and footage shot over the span of a decade, Etima explores the complexities of family life before and after the director’s husband is accused of rape and sexual assault. Under the shadow of the father’s actions, the mother must decide what her daughter will know about their family’s past and how she will interact with her father in the future.

 

Class 2014


Saman Aghvami

Francesca Dasso

Jamie Day Fleck

Caitlin Durlak

Simone Estrin

Zeinab Fattahi

Sarah Foy

Julie Gemuend

Fraser Hogarth

Jonas Jacobs

 

 

Thamilini Jothilingam

Jordan Kawai

Michael Kim

Daniel Laurin

Natalie Logan

Nadia Marzouk

Natasha Nuhanovic

Emily Read

Bindu Shah

Ali Weinstein

Saman Aghvami

Saman Aghvami received his bachelor’s degree in photography in Iran while pursuing photojournalism professionally in Iranian media for eight years. After moving to Canada in 2011 and away from the world of journalism, Aghvami started experiencing different realms of photography and documentary, hence his thesis project which is temporarily called “Home”.

Home constitutes of portraits of a number of Iranians among the diaspora living in Toronto and the presence of particular places in the shape of memory in their lives. By using projected images in the photographs, Home aims to marry documentary and staged photography in depicting the bitter nostalgia its subjects’ and many more are experiencing.

www.samanaghvami.net

Saman Afgvami thesis Picture

Francesca Dasso

Francesca Dasso is an emerging multi-media artist from Lima, Peru. Her work incorporates new technologies into documentary practice as she explores new ways of representing reality.  She holds a BA in Development Studies from Brown University and a Diploma in New Media Studies from the University of British Columbia.

When she arrived to Toronto she realized people never had conversations about Lake Ontario despite being such an important natural resource. She sees indifference as the worst threat to the environment so now she is working to change this situation.

www.beautifulwaters.ca

 www.francescadasso.com

Beautiful Waters, Francesca Dasso

Jamie Day Fleck

Jamie Day Fleck was born in Florida and moved to Toronto, Canada at an early age. Her early photographic interests were fostered by her step-father who acted as her mentor. She received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Photography from Parsons School of Design in New York City. Her thesis project consisted of a series of staged night portraits that focused on the beauty and isolation of urban existence, which has remained an ongoing project. This series was exhibited in solo and group shows in Toronto and New York. Jamie Day Fleck continues to work as a freelance photographer in Toronto while directing the documentary Photos by Kirk as her Master’s thesis work at Ryerson University.

Thesis: Photos by Kirk

Photos by Kirk tells the story of an Armenian Genocide survivor who immigrated to America in 1920 and worked as a photographer in the Bronx from the 1920’s to 1970’s. Kourken Hovsepian (professionally known as Kirk) photographed weddings, bar mitzvahs, confirmations and local events. His photographs document a unique period in New York City’s history and the ethnically diverse inhabitants. Though he lost his whole family in the tragic events of 1915 in Turkey, Kirk’s story revives the American Dream and what it means to document generations of celebratory events in other people’s lives and families.

www.fleckfactory.com

 

 

Jaimie Day Fleck

Caitlin Durlak

Inspired by the people she meets, Caitlin works to tell the stories of others. Her collection this far includes a dancer, a painter, a musician, business owner’s, photographer, and filmmaker. Working in video under the title of “documentary” Caitlin’s interest in fiction and experimentation are often present in her narratives.

www.wetellourselvesstories.com           

Thesis:

A nonfiction film that will look into the past life of artist Lorne Marin, who left behind his experimental film practice at age 30 after finding out he was going blind. 

Caitlin Durlak

Simone Estrin

Simone Estrin is a documentary filmmaker from Toronto whose current work deals with questioning the role of art in our society. 

Her thesis film investigates the battle to protect Shift (1970-1972), world-renowned artist Richard Serra’s monumental sculpture that has sat untouched in a remote Canadian farming field for over forty years and is now under threat by housing development. Watching other documentaries about art such as The Mystery of Picasso (1956) by Henri-Georges Clouzot and the Maysles brothers’ masterpieces like Running Fence (1977) have inspired her own work by making her aware that a great film can speak to not only art appreciators but as well, any viewer who engages with the film. Ultimately, her desire is that by exploring the politics surrounding Shift, this documentary will force audiences to question their own understanding of art and the role of art in public spaces. 

Short explorative film about Shift:

http://youtu.be/NHpl0Yyr9tY

Simone Estrin

Zeinab Fattahi

 

Zeinab Fattahi holds a BA and MA in Photography from Art University in Tehran, and has dedicated the past ten years of her life to photography. Her area of interest is the relationship between the photographic image and its referent. The experience that has had the most influence on her photographic perception is neither her exhibitions nor her publications, but rather the insight she gained while teaching and working with visually impaired/blind youth where she used photography as a means of communication and therapy. For her second major in Fine Arts, she attended Ryerson to work on a documentary film about the condition of blind youth in Iran.

 

Light of My Eyes creates a portrait of Zahra, an 11-year-old Iranian girl who was born blind. The film focuses on how Zahra’s identity is shaped through the social and corporeal challenges she faces daily. Despite being talented and outgoing, Zahra does not have a lot of friends. Instead, she spends most of her time playing with her dolls and listening to TV series, which imbues her with a vivid imagination and strong performance abilities.

lightofmyeyesdoc.com

 

 

Zeinab Fattahi

Sarah Foy

Sarah Foy is an American photographer now living in Toronto. After graduating from Dartmouth College in 2001, Sarah spent a decade working for political and public interest organizations in the U.S. She got her start in professional photography while working for Hillary Clinton's 2007-2008 campaign for president, where she photographed campaign events and activities for use on HillaryClinton.com. Sarah soon came to realize that her passions lie in photography and in telling stories through images. She believes that good photography and good storytelling can lead to positive change in the world.  

Sarah is working on a web-based documentary project about same-sex couples living in exile in Canada.  

www.sarahfoyphotography.com

Sarah Foy

Julie Gemuend

Julie Gemuend completed her undergraduate in visual arts at Brock University. She is a former resident of Niagara Falls, a city that unites the powers of natural wonder and artificial awe. Her work explores the gap between the surreal and the real, a testament to the spectacle and beauty of this city she calls home. Julie is an installation and performance artist working within a variety of disciplines (photo, video, sound) to create sensory experiences and environments for the viewer.

Thesis:

The work explores the mystique and the material of the Sonoran Desert; surreal, otherworldly elements juxtaposed with the very real and relentless nature of the landscape. All of the world's biomes occur in the Sonoran Desert region. It is for this very reason that the vast and open space radiates a special collective energy. Through performance and installation, the work will address what it means to be human in such an environment. The purpose of the work is to build a bridge between the gallery space and the desert, to bring the sweep of the desert back to human scale, to connect people with their mortality, with the land, with the energy, to bring the sky down to earth.

www.juliegemuend.com

Fraser Hogarth

Fraser is interested in photographing everyday built and lived in landscapes. A Toronto native, he has a background in geography and is currently completing an MFA in Documentary Media at Ryerson University.

Thesis:

Space is not simply a container for human activities; it is produced by human activities. The spaces we produce can then constrain or support subsequent activities.  My project will be a photography-based project which examines the production of space by exploring the physical and cultural landscapes of three diverse Toronto neighborhoods.

www.fraserhogarth.com

Fraser Hogarth

Jonas Jacobs

Jonas Jacobs is from Chicago and Los Angles. His first film, No Way to Say Goodbye, chronicled the dying Jewish community in Cochabamba, Bolivia and the director’s own search for a more meaningful secular Judaism. With his thesis film, What it’s All About (or My Wandering Roots), Jacobs explores mysterious family roots, recovers lost personal memories and falls in love with his girlfriend on a road trip from Toronto to Glens Falls, New York. 

 https://vimeo.com/jonasmjacobs

Jonas Jacobs

Thamilini Jothilingam 

Thamilini Jothilingam is a Sri Lankan born, Toronto-based visual artist with a social anthropology background. Born into and grown up in the shadows of a civil war, art for her is a conscience, a raw soil on which to stand, breathe and resist. Academically, her research interests stem from the contested spheres of gender, subaltern identities, visual anthropology, forced migration and transnational communities. In general, Thamilini is interested in exploring the poetics and politics of human behaviour, life and cultures.  

Thesis: Between Here and Nowhere

Between Here and Nowhere (work in progress) is a transmedia oral history documentary that aims to explore multi-layered visual discourses relating to the experiences of forced displacement, cultural memory and permanent rootlessness. Through stories of three immigrant women artists/poets from three different transnational communities (Former Yugoslavia/ Sri Lanka/ Palestine), it will attempt to demystify the rhetoric of war and conflict. Between Here and Nowhere is about reclaiming our voices from the margins, about complex layers of life, and about how being denied the right to belong - to a place, to a culture, to a language – has ruptured the lives and suspended people between borders/markets/polities, between here and nowhere. Yet amidst all, making art/ poetry becomes a refusal to forget and resilience to live - nomadic, in exile, always moving, always a migrant. 

 http://thamij.com/

Thamilini Jothigalimi

Jordan Kawai

Jordan Kawai graduated from the University of Ottawa focusing in communications and film studies. Kawai’s practice is in observational storytelling, while his research favors an audial analysis of film. His interests in documentary media combine aspirations in both practitioner and academic pursuits.

Thesis: As Brothers We Grow

As Brothers We Grow is but a glimpse of an unusually complicated coming of age tale inside the mind of a single autistic individual. Tommy Des Brisay is a person with autism now reaching adulthood, and Paul is Tommy’s older brother, alive with the spirit of independence and travel. Tommy’s favourite teachers are Disney and Seuss. Paul learns about life differently, favouring Darwin and Mendel.

 

As Brothers We Grow follows two wandering brothers through a fantasia of home video and a series of backcountry trips where they find themselves together once a season in an ongoing exploration of brotherhood, autism, independence, and future.

www.jordankawai.com

 

Jordan Kawai

Michael Kim

Michael Kim has been working as a commercial photographer since 2006. He completed his BFA at Ryerson University. His current thesis project is a series of metaphorical photographs that deconstruct anthropogenic impacts on the environment to question whether we have made progress in reducing pollution. The ultimate goal is to spread awareness and change the perceptions of the public. Rather than simply beautifying the environmental issues, my goal is to look at the documented archive of past concerns and compare that with contemporary issues to distinguish whether we have moved forward or backward in our quest to protect the environment. 

www.michaelkimphotography.com

Consumption Overload, Michael Kim

Daniel Laurin

Originally from Montreal, Daniel graduated with Honours from Communication Studies at Concordia University.  It was there, in a course taught by Tom Waugh, that he was first introduced to porn theory and the seeds were planted for his current project - Straight Guys. 

Thesis: Straight Guys

Straight Guys follows Daniel on a personal journey to explore the hidden desire many gay men feel towards straight men – through the curious genre of online pornography known as ‘Straight-Guy Porn’ - a subgenre of online amateur pornography that features supposedly heterosexual men having sex with other men for a gay male audience.  Where does this desire for straight men come from?  Is it innate or is it learned? How does it affect us as we grow from teenagers to adults?  Straight Guys is a lighthearted look at a very real and pressing set of questions.  As kids and teenagers are getting more and more of their information from the internet, pornography is an increasingly prevalent source of sexual education.  This is even more true for gay/bisexual/questioning teens, who have very few examples in mainstream media.  This film uses Straight-Guy Porn as an entry point into deeper questions about gay desire and the education of this desire in a very straight world.

www.straightguysdoc.com

Daniel Laurin

Natalie Logan

For the past six years, Natalie Logan has been exhibiting and working as a photographer and videographer. A graduate of the University of Toronto in Middle Eastern Studies and Religion, she has also acquired an alternative education from notable artists and collectives such as Paolo Soleri (Arcosanti), Werner Herzog (The Rogue Film School), the Photon League Holography Lab and The Light Foundry Holography Lab. She has been working for the past three years as an assistant researcher at OCAD-U as their holographer and has just begun a paid-internship in a commercial holography lab this summer.

Thesis : Phosnoema [from the Greek words 'phos' (which means light) and 'noema' (which means perception or judgement). It works as a play off of the term holography, which combines the Greek words 'holo' for whole and 'graphy' for writing]

Posnoema, is comprised of a body of holographic artwork that explore our relationship to light, space and human perception. The holograms are made of an ammonium dichromate gelatin emulsion on glass. The subject of the works are light reflected off of compositional glass structures to emphasize that we only ever see light not its physical forms. The holograms can be described as abstract, but they also contain an indexical relationship between the reflected light off the objects which is molecularly coded inside the emulsion. The holograms are an analogue recording of light in space during a moment in time, but because of the process, the works are more interpretational than an exact recording of reality. If anything we ever encounter visually is either reflected light or its absence, than with these holograms we can meditate on just the light, the object without physical form. This provides us an opportunity to think differently about the link between recording and representation and it allows us to consider all objects that are visually perceived as light in space.

www.natagraphy.com

Natalie Logan

Nadia Marzouk

Nadia Marzoukis an Egyptian-Canadian documentary filmmaker. She completed her undergraduate education at Pitzer College, one of the unique Claremont Colleges. At Pitzer she majored in film/video production and sociology to begin paving the road for her future in documentary film. Nadia's more recent work is driven by her interest in activism and has focused on women's rights in Egypt since the revolution of 2011 to date. 

One of her recent films, Egyptian Expression Post Mubarak, explored the outburst of freedom of expression Egyptian artists gained as a result of the revolution of 2011. Her current documentary/thesis film, Il Setat (The Women) examines the continued struggle towards liberal occupation and peace in Egypt through the eyes of Egyptian woman. Il Setat will travel through time to reveal the role of women throughout the years, as well as the joys and obstacles they regularly encounter, their role in the revolution, and the impact it has had on their everyday lives. 

www.nadiamarzouk.com

Nadia Marzouk

Natasha Nuhanovic

Natasa Nuhanovic is a published poet, has completed her B.A. in English and German Literature at the University of Waterloo and her M.A. in Comparative Literature at the University of Toronto. She was born in former Yugoslavia, moved to Germany at the age of nine due to the war, and to Canada at the age of fourteen. The frequent changes in her every-day reality have made her aware of the vulnerability and impermanence of life. This has instilled in her a desire to try and preserve moments and experiences that uncover our common humanity. She does this by combining her literary and poetic background with the medium of film.

Thesis: Close The Door

Close The Door is a poetic, magic-realist film about the space between an ending and a beginning as told through the story of a grandfather in possibly his last moments of life and a grandmother in constant waiting, juxtaposed with images of their house in Bosnia damaged by war. Time moves forwards and backwards in an unpredictable manner determined by memory, loss, longing, sorrow and love. How can we move forward when the past has such a strong hold on us? 

http://www.natashanuhanovic.com

Natasha Nuhanovic

Emily Read

Emily Read is a self-taught photographer from Cambridge, Ontario. She holds a BA in Art History from the University of Guelph, and enrolled in an Arts and Design Program at George Brown before being accepted into the Documentary Media Program. Past experience working in the museum field with access to large archives of photographic images spurred an interest in documentary photography.

As an artist, her interest lies in everyday characters, and their everyday lives that reflect our society today.

Thesis: Year One

Year One is a photographic and auditory investigation into the first year of parenthood and how a couple faces the changing dynamics of their family. It explores not only their relationship with the new baby, but also their relationship with each other and the trials of early parenthood. On a larger scale, Year One examines how the family fits into a more ‘traditional’ family model in a modern day world

Emily Read

Bindu Shah

Bindu Shah was born in Kenya and lived there until immigrating to Canada in 1991.  Although a latecomer to the world of filmmaking, story telling has always been her passion.  Being a teacher, running an educational bookstore, and creating Indian dance dramas – all contributed to this passion.    She came into the MFA program at Ryerson with an intention to make films but now her interest has branched out to digital and photographic forms too.  She is especially interested in the healing properties of the performing arts and hopes to research and document these processes further beyond the program itself. 

Every Story has a Twist is a film about the healing process of a circus artist who went through the Scoliosis journey as a teenager. Scoliosis is a debilitating condition affecting 3% of the population, where a curved spine can have devastating effect on a person if not corrected.  The artist’s story will be told through her performance.  

Bindu Shah

Ali Weinstein

Ali Weinstein previously attended law school for five weeks, taught English in Japan, and was a competitive synchronized swimmer for several years before that. She is currently working on a documentary about making commitments. 

Thesis abstract:

Devoted asks the question, “why dedicate one’s life to god?”, and brings together the voices of several young, deeply religious people of varying faiths in an attempt to answer it. It is a short documentary about commitment, and why we make the choices we do.

Ali Weinstein

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
 
   
   
Class 2013

Rob Allen

Chris Beaver

Maegan Broadhurst

Corinne Dunphy

Dan Epstein

Cass Gardiner

Sarah Gladki

Ben Goloff

Gillian Greenfeld

Zoë Heyn-Jones

Serene Husni

Marcia Iglesias

Lara Johnston

Larisa Kurzemnieks

Chenxing Liu

Mina Momeni

 

 

Jason O’Hara

Robinder Uppal and Marc Serpa Francoeur

Lisa Rideout

Judy Ruzylo

Rebekah Reiko

Lakhbir Sodhi

Catharine Tamas

Gabi Veras

Ryan Walker

Andrew Waller

Ken Woroner

Julie Yan

Mariam Zaidi

Laine Zisman Newman

Rob Allen

Rob Allen is a photographic artist and educator working in Toronto. He holds a BFA from the School of Image Arts at Ryerson University. Allen’s work has been shown in juried group exhibitions for 25 years. His work in this year’s DOC NOW Festival will mark his seventh solo effort with venues as diverse as Toronto’s Korean Consulate and Ryerson’s School of Graphic Communications Management. While fully immersed in new technologies, Allen simultaneously explores the disappearing camera crafts of the twentieth century. Recently, Allen has branched out into motion-picture production, still attentive to the rewards of patient observation.

Thesis: Extended Portraits

The notion of the “extended portrait” has a long history in photography and implies capturing a multitude of revealing moments as well as the possibility of certain moments lasting longer than others.

The exhibition, Extended Portraits: Bringing Artists Into Focus attempts to push the conventional boundaries of portraiture, documenting individual artists’ lives; utilizing still photography, motion picture, video and the hybrid “still-video.”

Two of the artists Allen has documented are Québecois: legendary cineaste Michel Brault and sculptor Claire Brunet. Another sculptor, Catherine Heard, the poet Paul Dutton, and photo-based museologist Vid Ingelevics round out the list.   The artists’ own works were taken into account as Allen considered the best approach to create their extended portrait. 

Allen痴 interaction with Catherine Heard was somewhat typical of his time with his other subjects. After an initial meeting to establish goals and comfort levels, Allen returned to photograph and videotape Heard in her studio on three occasions; first to make long-exposure 8x10 photographs that imply movement, again with the 8x10 to freeze her with flash, and finally with a smaller digital camera to capture more spontaneous, fleeting moments and details of her surroundings that give the viewer more awareness of Heard as a creative artist.

Roballen.ca

Rob Allen

Chris Beaver

Chris Beaver is an emerging artist in writing, filmmaking, and storytelling. Beaver was born and raised in Alderville First Nation and now lives nearby in Toronto. After obtaining a BA (with distinction) in the humanities from St. Stephen’s University in New Brunswick, Beaver enrolled  in a post-production program at The Edit Center in Manhattan, where he worked as an associate  editor on Gregory Crewdson: Brief Encounters. This experience inspired Beaver’s interest in the creative and social impact of documentary filmmaking. In On Reserve, Beaver explores themes of First Nations identity and the repercussions of the Indian Act.Thesis: On Reserve

The relationship between First Nations people and broader Canadian society is hindered by a  perpetual lack of understanding. Starting from this premise, On Reserve is a film imbued with  belief in the transformative powers of storytelling. Influenced by the style of Allen King’s  actuality dramas, On Reserve invites the viewer into an experience of reserve life. The film, set  in Alderville First Nation, Ontario, home of Canada’s first industrial school (precursor of the  residential school), explores the consequences of Canada’s aggressive assimilation policy. By  following elder Carl Beaver, the film takes viewers through the life rhythms of the community,  showing various characters along the way. Though directly affected by First Nations politics,  it is curious how little Carl (like many others) knows about the history of aboriginal people in  Canada. This begins to change as Carl’s curiosity is provoked by talk of the growing Idle No  More movement. Carl begins to see that while Idle No More began as a First Nations effort, the  issues at stake affect all Canadians. Our democracy and our environment are on the line. If there  was ever a time for people to set aside their differences and unite, this is it.

Chris Beaver

Maegan Broadhurst

Maegan Broadhurst is a Montreal-born artist with a research interest in emotional geography—  the emergent study of the emotional and imaginary in relation to geography—in public and  private spaces. In addition to her individual practice, Broadhurst works with Canadian artist  Immony Men to foster collaborative engagements with citizens exploring the emotional  landscape of their cities. Broadhurst has exhibited at the Art Gallery of Mississauga, aceartinc  (Winnipeg) and has spoken at the My City’s Still Breathing Symposium (Winnipeg) and the Pop  Montreal Symposium. Broadhurst completed her BA, specializing in Communication Studies at  Concordia University, and has worked with Canadian non-profit organizations that engage in  community collaboration

Thesis: 97 Percival

“We shape our buildings, and afterwards our buildings shape us.” —Winston Churchill 

87 Percival investigates notions of space, identity, memory, and loss in relation to the childhood home. The work contemplates the dualistic nature of our domestic spaces as places of belonging,  but also as sites of unresolved histories. It does this using the theoretical framework of the  German concepts of heimlich and unheimlich, identifying the domestic as homely but  simultaneously un-homely.

Five years after Broadhurst’s parents’ divorce, her childhood home was hastily renovated and  sold, marking the fracture of over 60 years of family heritage in this location. The installation  questions the role of art as a method of coming to terms with loss, informed by Broadhurst’s  experience mediating on loss through her artistic process. 87 Percival holds out the hope that acts  of family reconciliation may be multi-generational and cumulative in nature.

The work also reflects on the childhood home as a significant site for the formation of our adult  identities, acknowledging that dwellings have a role in manifesting personal histories. 87  Percival attempts to raise universal questions regarding what it means for an ageing house to be  cleansed of the markers of its past, asking whether it is ever possible to return home.

 

Maegan Broadhurst

Corinne Dunphy

Corinne Dunphy was born and raised in Antigonish, Nova Scotia. She  earned a BFA in photography and art history at NSCAD University. Art  has played a prominent role in Dunphy’s life, and Nova Scotia has  provided examples of poignant landscapes and curious folk to inspire  her. Dunphy is interested in using film and photography as her primary  tools, but seeks opportunities to incorporate other messy mediums into  her work as well. As a visual storyteller, Dunphy gravitates towards  everyday characters and land-driven themes, being aware of how the  land and its history continuously shape its people.

Thesis: Well-fished

Grace and Fallon are no “shore captains.” They favour the salt, wind,  and wet tresses of the sea to working ashore. Well-fished is a  documentary film exploring the lives of two young women who, unlike  other girls their age, have big dreams of living a life working on the  Atlantic. The film portrays Grace and Fallon’s connection to the older  and disappearing fishing traditions of Nova Scotia.

Nova Scotia’s population and landscape have drastically changed  throughout the decades. The role of women was also transformed with  the passing of traditional gender roles and the decline of the male dominated  fishing industry. Women have always participated in the  ever-important shore work, but today it is becoming more common for  women to be stepping onto boats as well. The film speaks to the  rapidly changing society of Nova Scotia and the pride associated with  working on the sea.

The film was shot during the two-month lobster-fishing season in 2012.  Through an intimate approach and point-of-view perspectives, the film  follows the women’s daily work routines while drawing on anecdotes  and scenes of maritime life. Well-fished champions the preservation of  a way of life for younger generations who call the province of Nova  Scotia their home.

Corinne Dunphy

Dan Epstein

Dan Epstein has been photographing professionally since 2008, while he was at the University of Toronto, and exhibiting work since 2009. Since coming to Ryerson, Epstein has focused on legal and social justice themes. In 2012, he was recognized with Ryerson’s Award for Social Justice in Documentary Photography  and selected for a 2013 Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival featured exhibition for his work in Defenders.

Thesis: Defenders

Dan Epstein's Defenders employs multimedia installation to paint a living ethnographic portrait of Canadian and American criminal defence lawyers in three cities: Detroit, New York, and Toronto. The project addresses the personal experience of criminal justice by focusing on the individuals who defend the accused.

After more than a year of conducting interviews with his subjects, Epstein assembled a database of recorded video and still portraiture that depict lawyers in their work spaces. The stories that inform this work are diverse and engaging, ranging from firm indictments of the criminal justice system, to staunch defences of a lawyer’s work, to sad stories of justice gone sour.

While Defenders seeks to address larger, systemic questions about criminal justice in the 21st century, it does so by offering an intimate window into the personalities and quirks of the people it portrays. As a portrait of a profession, Defenders hopes to provide an in-depth and informative look at an under-examined aspect of the complex world of crime and justice.

danepsteinphotography.com

Dan Epstein

Cass Gardiner

Filmmaker and photographer Cass Gardiner was raised a First Nation's Italian-Scotswoman in Tranquility, New Jersey. While an NYU undergraduate, she studied in Argentina, working and travelling amongst indigenous communities in the Salta province, and completed an independent research study at the National Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian Institute. She has an honors degree in documentary film, photography and First Nation's cultural studies. 

Gardiner’s work emphasizes telling stories of characters on the cultural periphery. A passionate advocate of First Nation’s inclusion in contemporary culture, Gardiner strives to create a filmmaking style akin to oral history.  

Thesis: The Edible Indian

The Edible Indian is a short documentary film that takes an intimate look at the issues of First Nation’s identity in Canada through the lens of food. Three aboriginal chefs of different backgrounds are asked the same question, “What is your favourite meal?” and asked to prepare that meal in their kitchens. The Edible Indian re-examines the traditional role of the kitchen as not only a space for cooking but also a place of storytelling and cultural exploration. While cooking, these chefs share stories of their personal relationship to their cultural heritage, their culinary passions, and what being First Nation’s in the twenty-first century means to them.

Cass Gardiner

Sarah Gladki

Sarah Gladki is a self-taught photographer and video artist from Toronto. Gladki received her BA in 2008 from McGill University, majoring in art history and world religions. After graduating, Gladki lived in New York for two years where she expanded her photographic practice to include analogue work. Gladki’s photography focuses on scenes of the banal, the everyday, and the overlooked areas of the city and city architecture. Since moving back to Toronto, Gladki has expanded her art practice to include film and video, as she now works with 16 mm, Super 8, Regular 8, and Mini DV.

Thesis: Navigating, Fences

Navigating, Fences is an installation comprised of photographs, video, and hand-drawn maps. The subject matter of the installation is the everyday, overlooked fences that exist everywhere in the city of Toronto. What began as an exploration into artist Sarah Gladki’s obsession with looking at fences has evolved into a project that considers how seeing and studying elements of the overlooked can reveal new insights about the city and the self. To communicate this, the installation Navigating, Fences expresses Gladki’s experience as she travelled through the streets of Toronto in search of fences to photograph, while it also shows how Gladki sees fences: Each possesses its own unique character.

Gladki’s focus on fences explores the emotive aspects of architectural structures and their innate connection to their geographical locations. This way of seeing introduces a new or unrealized experience of the city, bringing attention to a structure that is often overlooked, and commonly perceived of as an obstruction—limiting and barring. The interplay between architecture and individual perception is at work here, where both act to shape and influence the other.  

Sarah Gladki

Ben Goloff

Ben Goloff is a Montreal-born filmmaker residing in Toronto. Before co-founding Black Box Productions in 2008, Goloff was a film editor by trade. His passion lies in the art of documentary filmmaking. He has produced, and collaborated on, several short and feature-length docs, along with fiction and experimental works. These have screened in festivals such as Cannes and the Atlantic Film Festival. Goloff’s approach to filmmaking focuses on storytelling, isolating the essence of a narrative and translating it to the screen. Combining in-depth character studies with cinéma vérité aesthetics, Goloff strives to create immersive portraits of both the mundane and the fantastic

Thesis: Open Water

Open Water  follows endurance swimmer and coach Kim Lumsdon’s quest to swim 52 km across Lake Ontario. At age 56, in the twilight of her career, when most are making plans for retirement, Kim has planned to undertake one the most grueling physical endeavours. The daughter of famed Canadian swimmer, the late Cliff Lumsdon, Kim has been involved in swimming since youth but is no typical athlete. Born with a congenital condition that turned her knees inward, even walking can challenge her. Water, on the other hand, sets her free.

With an initial attempt scheduled for summer 2012, Kim was sidelined by a kneecap infection requiring emergency surgery. With shattered plans, questionable health, and her glory days long past, Kim faces immense obstacles in steeling herself for another attempt at Lake Ontario—and to become the oldest woman to swim across it.

Following Kim over a two-year period from the start of her training in 2011, Open Water portrays a woman searching for meaning and defying expectations when confronted by seemingly impossible odds. In probing further into Kim痴 personal life, Open Water touches on universal truths about the strength of dreams, the power of will, and the harsh lessons of reality.

Blackboxproductions.tv

Ben Goloff

Gillian Greenfeld

Gillian Greenfeld completed her honours BA in anthropology at the University of British Columbia and has studied  avant-garde filmmaking with renowned filmmakers at FAMU in the Czech Republic and at Simon Fraser University  in British Columbia. Born and raised in Canada where she currently lives, Greenfeld has also lived in Israel,  Mexico, Thailand, and the Czech Republic. She has shot films in Russia, Mexico, and Canada that have been   screened in universities and cinema clubs in several countries. Her filmic themes explore issues of women’s rights and identity.

Thesis: Going Beyond Myself

Going Beyond Myself links the stories of two women from post-industrial European  societies with that of a woman from rural Mexico. Lucy Cherrington of London, England  and Izaskun Cassanova of the Basque country of northern Spain travel to the small  Mexican town of Zipolite in La Costa Chica on the Pacific. They set out to shed their  preconceived identities as single working women and to build new, different lives. We  also meet Miriam del Angel Garcia, a Zipolite local who finds strength in her  independence as a tamale vendor. From different worlds, with different opportunities in  life, these women share similar stories of the struggle to redefine themselves in a rugged  environment.

Going Beyond Myself  questions why women from post-industrial societies chose to  leave their families, histories, and lives to settle in a remote area with few modern  comforts and overt violence against women. It documents the possibility of “being at  home anywhere” and exposes the difficulties this choice brings. How these three women  deal with the local macho culture underlines their similarity. Their testimonies reveal  how this struggle has brought more meaning to their existence, raising questions about  exceeding limitations no matter where one is. 

Gillian Greenfeld

Zoë Heyn-Jones

Zoë Heyn-Jones is a researcher and visual artist whose films have screened at LIFT (Toronto),  Pleasure Dome (Toronto), the Independent Imaging Retreat (Mount Forest), the Film Studies  Association of Canada’s Scholars’ Screening Series (Waterloo), and the 8 Fest (Toronto). Heyn-Jones studied cinema and anthropology at the University of Toronto, and she holds an MA in  film studies from Concordia University. Heyn-Jones’ work focuses on ideas of experimental  ethnography, expanded cinema, and small-gauge filmmaking practices.

Domestic Product examines the border zones between art and anthropology, questioning  the possibility of representing cultural differences and contiguities through landscape, routes, and kinetic motion. Regarding highland Guatemala—with its legacy of civil war, indigenous  genocide, and land rights struggles—through the lens of domestic ethnography allows for a consideration of image ethics, privilege, proximity, and the codes of documentary representation, positing film-based visual art as a tool of decolonization.

 

Zoe Heyn-Jones

Serene Husni

Serene Husni is a filmmaker and multimedia journalist. Before moving to Toronto to join Ryerson’s MFA Documentary Media program, she was based in Amman, Jordan, where she was a founding member of Aramram Web television. Husni is keen on  exploring how media forms affect storytelling. Before producing video content for the  Web, she worked in television, radio, and print. Zinco is her first documentary film.

Husni is  most interested in people and the cultures that bind them in urban environments. She is  just as happy seeing the world through her camera eye as she is asking random questions  to strangers.

Thesis: Zinco

Zinco   is a portrait of Al Talbieh (Zizya), a Palestinian refugee camp in Jordan established in the  wake of the June War of 1967. Decades later, the camp has become less of a temporary  solution and more of a permanent “zone.” By retracing the development of the camp,  from the canvas that once made up refugee tents to freshly painted cement roofs, the film  looks for visual manifestations of Palestinian displacement, taking the slowly changing  construction material of Palestinian refugee shelters as a signifier for exile.

“Zinco” is an  Arabic slang word that refers to the corrugated tin rooftops that still cover most of the  camp’s habitats today. The film relies on anecdotes and personal narratives in telling the  story of the camp, and explores new ways of representing oppressed peoples and  histories.

 

Zinco, Serene Husni

Marcia Iglesias

Marcia Iglesias  is an emerging Toronto filmmaker who focuses on magical realism and narrative  storytelling, with a passion for global causes and political issues. In 2011 she was funded by the Hart House New Filmmakers Fund at the University of Toronto to make the short documentary  entitled Project 39. Iglesias also launched the First Annual Latin American Youth Film Festival at the University of Toronto. In addition to being a filmmaker she has taught numerous  documentary workshops to youth in Toronto. She is an advocate of the Latin American   community and volunteers for grassroots organizations.

Thesis: Astudillo: A Voice of Hope

Astudillo: A Voice of Hope is a documentary that follows the journey of a Latin American political refugee  who became an Anglican Priest in Toronto. After escaping prosecution in Ecuador because of his  political ideals of socialism and liberation theology, Padre Hernan Astudillo settled in downtown  Toronto in the early 1990s, singing in subway stations and hoping to create a church that preaches solidarity, love, and social justice. Once he became a priest in Canada he made it his mission to help those in need. This commitment would lead him to his biggest initiative, the Caravan of   Hope.

The Caravan of Hope project was a response to the 2001 earthquake in El Salvador that left   100,000 people homeless. Padre Astudillo’s church, San Lorenzo Parish, began to drive ambulances from Toronto to El Salvador in support of its underfunded public health system. The   film follows the journey of the caravan as it traverses 6,000 km of different countries and   cultures with their own stories of social movements and their leaders. The stories encountered   along the way exemplify Padre Astudillo’s vision of solidarity and social justice. Astudillo: A Voice of   Hope explores Latin American immigrant storytelling by connecting Latin American myths and history with the experiences of Padre Astudillo.  

Marcia Iglesias

Lara Johnston

Lara Johnston holds a BA in cinema studies from the University of Toronto. She has worked for several years as an assistant editor and editor on feature films—for filmmakers such as Brian De Palma, Patricia Rozema, and Cary Fukunaga. She also teaches film editing at Humber College. Johnston’s experimental Super 8 films have screened at Pleasure Dome and the Splice This! Super 8 festival in Toronto, The Blinding Light Cinema in Vancouver, and the MicroCineFest in Baltimore.

Thesis: The (Real) Mean Girls

The (Real) Mean Girls  explores female bullying among teenage girls. Audio interviews of  women recounting their experiences of being bullied as adolescents are woven with  recollections from the artist’s memory of being a bystander during a bullying incident as a  teenager. The work employs visual collage– incorporating live-action re-enactments, animation,  archival footage, and images from an old high school yearbook- representing that time in a  girl’s adolescence when she cobbles together a cohesive identity from the many forces trying to  shape her. The work addresses themes of memory, guilt, trauma, and girlhood.

Lara Johston

Larisa Kurzemnieks

Larisa Kurzemnieks (born 1989 in Toronto, Ontario) began studying photography at the University of Western Ontario, where she graduated in 2011 with a BFA, honours specialization in studio arts and a minor in history. Her graduating project was selected to compete in the BMO 1st Art! Annual Invitational Student Art Competition and was exhibited throughout London, Ontario. She has received the Jenny Donald Memorial Award in Visual Arts (2010), the Gray Creative Arts Award in Visual Arts (2010), and the Ryerson Graduate Award (2011 and 2012). As an artist, she is interested in exploring the effects of human intervention on places of natural beauty. 

Thesis: This Way to the Beach

Travelling north along Highway 400 and west on 26 is a route familiar to thousands of Torontonians seeking to escape the city on weekends. A major point of interest is Wasaga Beach, Ontario – the longest freshwater beach in the world. Situated between the gentle Nottawasaga River and the ocean-like Georgian Bay, Wasaga Beach is a narrow stretch of shoreline offering shallow water, firm sand, and a spectacular view of the distant Blue Mountains.

Its popularity peaked in the 1950s when a hodgepodge of amusements, accommodations, and snack bars sprung up along the shore. With the influx of weekenders and construction, the natural beachfront property quickly became overrun with traffic congestion, rowdy behaviour and poorly maintained operations. As the November 2007 fire has destroyed the famous beachfront strip, and the remaining operations require more amenities and higher standards, the future of Wasaga Beach as an iconic summer holiday destination has become uncertain.

This Way to the Beach is a photographic exploration into this delicate microclimate where tourists, residents, and cottagers coexist, and where promises and failures are as frequent as the coming and going of weekend visitors. Photographs of the beachfront, the adjacent built environment, and the seasonally travelled pedestrian mall make up the series, in an examination of the collision of built and natural worlds

larisakurzemnieks.com/ 

Larisa Kurzemnieks

Chenxing Liu

Chenxing Liu is a Toronto-based filmmaker and photographer with a background in anthropology and philosophy from the University of Waterloo. Born and raised in southern China, Liu has mixed feelings about the country’s rapidly developing, ultra-materialistic, and politically and spiritually apathetic society. After feeling quite lost, Liu is now interested in exploring the philosophical notion of finding deeper life meaning and the effects it has on family and social roles.

Thesis: To Live as One

To Live as One is a self-reflexive documentary film that traces the changes of Liu’s perspective on Buddhism. Growing up in a Buddhist family gave the agnostic Liu extensive experience visiting temples and attending religious ceremonies. In those early years Liu was very skeptical about Buddhist beliefs because at first glance they appeared superstitious. In his early 20s, searching for the purpose of life, Liu rediscovered Buddhism and studied its tenets in more depth. He was impressed by some of the core ideas of its teachings, such as the notions of Impermanence, Dukkha, and Causality, which are self-justifiable without requiring blind faith.

To Live as One employs a narrative driven by Liu’s inner change. The film addresses some often misinterpreted aspects in Buddhism, such as “worshipping,” burning incense, chanting, and “aversion to materialism.” Liu’s story is interwoven with footage shot in the Fo Guang Shan Temple (Mississauga, Ontario), including Buddhist ceremonies and daily practices. The film presents discussions with senior practitioners regarding some of the more confusing Buddhist concepts and also shows aspects of their secular life. 

chenxingliu.com

Chenxing Liu

Mina Momeni

Mina Momeni is an Iranian-born photographer and educator based in Toronto. She obtained her BA in Photography from the Azad University of Tehran in 2000. Momeni has participated in various group and individual exhibitions in North America, Europe, and the Middle East. She has taught photography and developed curriculums for college, undergraduate university, and private courses. Most of Momeni’s photographs explore the relationship between ancient culture, symbology, monuments, and memories.

Thesis: The Silent War

The Silent War is a photography and video installation inspired by the cemetery for martyrs of the Iran-Iraq War, one of the bloodiest wars of the twentieth century. Momeni recreates a cemetery by simulation, to illustrate the effects of the war and its subsequent memorialization.

As a metaphoric translation of this unique space, Momeni’s installation presents gravestones made of the pictures of the cemetery, video projections, soldiers’ letters, and the wills written for their families. This material was collected from actual graves and the Iran War Museum archives or obtained directly from the families of martyrs. The installation is mounted in a dark space to create an unsettling experience for the viewers, to evoke respect, and provide a contemplative atmosphere.

The Iran-Iraq War was an armed conflict between the armed forces of Iraq and Iran, lasting from September 1980 to August 1988. In this conflict, the estimated casualties were 1,000,000 for Iran and 500,000 for Iraq. It was the intercession of the United States in1988 that was crucial in bringing the war to an end.

Minamomeni.com

Mina Momeni

Jason O’Hara

Jason O'Hara sees media as tools for advocacy and social change. O’Hara has filmed in  over 25 countries, his footage having been featured on the CBC’s Nature of Things and  The Fifth Estate, TVO’s Why Poverty Series, in two theatrical documentaries, and on  television news in Brazil, Venezuela, and the USA. O’Hara created the participatory  photography component of a youth engagement project that won Brazil’s UN MDG Award.

O’Hara  is currently directing a feature documentary in collaboration with EyeSteel Film, funded  by the Toronto and Ontario Arts Councils, about forced community evictions before the  2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics. O’Hara’s MFA is supported by Canada’s Social  Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC).

Thesis: Rhythms of Resistance

The criminalization of poverty in Rio de Janeiro emerges from a history that began  with slavery, continued via the economic servitude of the oppressed classes after  emancipation, and culminated in the explosive growth of favelas (urban slums) in the  second half of the twentieth century.

Rhythms of Resistance explores the controversial new community policing program  (UPP) in Rio, which purports to “pacify” communities previously dominated  by drug traffickers.

The film presents musicians living in recently “pacified” favelas who compose freedom  songs recounting their experiences as victims of police violence and social exclusion.  Internationally acclaimed samba composer Cathola is shot by police shortly after UPP  forces arrive in his community of Cantagalo. Inspired by his near-death experience,  Cathola posits a better future through his lyrics of resistance. Cathola’s story is woven  together with a series of colourful vignettes in which politicized street artists unravel the  rhetoric of the pacification program, charging that the UPP is exacerbating the  criminalization of poverty in Rio. Imagining a more peaceful society promised by  pacification, the film’s cast of characters has given up waiting for basic rights to be  guaranteed by the state and is instead asserting those rights through music and  performance art.

Jason Ohara


Robinder Uppal and Marc Serpa Francoeur

Robinder Uppal and Marc Serpa Francoeur were born and raised in Calgary and have been friends since childhood. After studying screenwriting at Langara College in Vancouver, they completed BA degrees in Interdisciplinary Studies at the University of British Columbia.  Longtime creative collaborators, Uppal and Serpa Francoeur have been making documentary films for several years, covering subjects as varied as agriculture in Punjab and gold mining in  Nicaragua. The children of immigrants, their joint thesis work builds on lifelong interests in issues surrounding diversity and multiculturalism.

Thesis: The World in Ten Blocks: Stories From Bloor Street 

The World in Ten Blocks: Stories From Bloor Street   is a documentary film (in interactive and theatrical versions) that presents the experiences of immigrant entrepreneurs who own and  operate small businesses along the 10 blocks of Bloor Street West between Dufferin and  Crawford Streets. Hailing from all over the world, the film’s participants share their stories in detail, relating why and how they came to Canada, the difficulties they faced along the way, and  the transformations they’ve experienced as a result. In the interactive version, users can choose  to hear from various participants as they progress through themes that trace a rough chronology  through the immigration experience. The World in Ten Blocks creates a mosaic of personal narratives that explores the challenges and rewards of immigration to Canada.

The World in Ten Blocks, Stories from Bloor Street, Robinder Uppal and Marc Serpa Francoeur



Lisa Rideout

Lisa Rideout is a documentary photographer interested in engaging with social issues through her work. After graduating with a MA in Critical Media and Cultural Studies from the School of Oriental and African Studies in London, England, Rideout decided to pursue her creative ambitions. In 2010 she became a founding board member of Good Evidence, a Toronto-based non-profit organization that creates short documentary films, which showcase the stories behind community-based work. In her personal work, Rideout attempts to create photographs that simultaneously benefit her subjects, audience, and herself. She brings her critical academic background into her practice as she attempts to illustrate the complexities underlying various social issues.

Thesis: While We Wait 

“The meaning of life is that it stops” -Franz Kafka

We are all going to die. Our bodies will cease to exist in their current form, and what will follow is uncertain. Regardless of the unavoidability, common understandings emphasize the prevention of death.  The foods we eat, activities we participate in, and lifestyle choices we make are driven by a desire to extend life as long as possible. When we fall ill,  those in the medical field assist in battling the disease in a steadfast evasion of death. We actively avoid its imminence. 

While We Wait  is a film that navigates through three experiences with terminal illness and death. Edwardo, Augustina, and Donna, recall their personal encounters with the death of their loved ones, terminal diagnosis, and medical treatment. Their varied experiences paint a complex portrait of what it means to face loss, surrender control, and come to terms with the inevitability of death.  While We Wait  presents a poetic narrative that encourages its viewers to confront their own mortality.

Lisa Rideout

Judy Ruzylo

Judy Ruzylo has a  peripatetic art education and extensive background in documentary film. In her artistic practice she is drawn to the human: the complexities of form, condition, and individuality. She lives and works in Toronto. 

Thesis: The Order of Thing

Gender plays a central role in the creation of social identity. It is fundamental to how we see ourselves and how we order the world around us. We learn to read and decode gender from a young age. Conventional wisdom holds that sex, as designated at birth, determines gender but in fact gender is a construct. It is learned, idealized, and reinvented.

The transgender exist outside the binary of man or woman and, consequently, are often relegated to the periphery of mainstream society. The changes they undergo emphasize how gender is a continuum. However, having moved along this continuum, the transgender are in a paradoxically privileged position to understand things about the gendered world that most do not.

A video installation, The Order of Things explores the relationships between gender, identity, and society. Transgender individuals from a range of ages, backgrounds, and circumstances share their observations of, and lived experience in, our gendered world. Inspired by Levinas’ claim that “the face presents itself and demands justice,” these individuals turn to face the audience only when a viewer is close to the screen. This rudimentary interaction reframes the image as an encounter that challenges one to contemplate the notion that the ways in which we do not understand things are as important as the ways in which we do—that, perhaps, there exists   some order beyond the binary.

Judy Ruzylo

Rebekah Reiko

Rebekah Reiko was born and raised in Montreal and has lived in Toronto since 2011. Reiko received her BA from Dalhousie University, with a major in International Development Studies and a minor in Film Studies. Through her university studies she developed an interest in current events and their historical dimensions.

Reiko hopes to use both photography and film to present current events in a way that can help her society gain knowledge that they cannot gain from other news sources. More specifically, she intends to use her camera to explore current issues that pertain to cultural uniqueness. 

Thesis: In Art We Trust

In Art We Trust is a documentary film about the last days of the art house Tacheles. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, Tacheles played an iconic role in the artistic life of the German capital. Located on Oranienburger Strasse in Mitte, the history of the art house reflected the changing social climate in Berlin. It was a place where diversity found free expression; where international artists flourished. It also provided an example for alternative centers around the world which were also experiencing the consequences of going against the grain of society. 

In Art We Trust  explores the historical and socio-political impacts that affected the fate of Tacheles, while also portraying the art house as a symbolic reflection of Berlin’s contemporary alternative culture (from 1990–2012).

Rebekahreiko.com

Rebekah Reiko

Lakhbir Sodhi

Lakhbir Sodhi is a retired professional engineer now engaged in documentary filmmaking. In preparation for  his retirement, Sodhi completed an Image Arts Diploma in film studies and new media at Ryerson  University. He co-produces and co-hosts GURBANI, a weekly Sikh religious program broadcast on Vision  TV and has served as chairperson of Toronto's non-profit Trinity Square Video.

His successful  documentary, MERE SATHI, provides a rare and intimate portrait of Toronto's South Asian senior citizens,  a group all too often overlooked by the mainstream Canadian media. He has a keen interest in exploring  issues affecting Canada's South Asian community.

Thesis: Kathak in Motion 

Kathak is an ancient Indian classical dance form dating back many centuries. Kathak was primarily  performed by male dancers, who told the stories based on Hindu mythology in temple settings. Now it has  been shaped by modern influences and gone through many iterations to come to the theater stage.

Kathak in Motion   traces the dance’s journey using the life experiences of Sandhya Desai (72), exploring  past and present dance practices, and how traditions evolve from one generation to another. Sandhya  began dancing at age 24, after her marriage to Atul Desai—an Indian classical musician who played a significant role in her success as an established Kathak dancer, teacher, and choreographer. Atul was a  music pioneer who introduced novel musical compositions that changed the focus of the Kathak repertoire  from traditional temple stories to tales of contemporary life. He has worked closely with one of India’s  renowned Kathak dancers and choreographers, Kumudini Lakhia. Set in Atul and Sandhya’s adopted  hometown of Toronto, the film explores the journey of Kathak dance through conversations with Sandhya,  her dedicated dance disciples, and their performances.

Lakhbir Sodhi

Catharine Tamas

Catharine Tamas is a broadcast producer, director, writer, and educator. She began her career as a field producer at CTV National News in Ottawa and continued to produce news for 12 years, including as a show producer at CBC Newsworld International. In the 1990s she started creating and developing programming. Tamas’ work in series development has spanned several genres, from current affairs talk shows to finance, health, and children’s programming. She created and developed the Gemini-award-winning show Health on the Line and the Gemini-nominated Medical Hotseat for the Discovery Health Channel. Since 2007 she has been a professor of Journalism Broadcast at Sheridan College

Thesis: SEEKERS

SEEKERS is a film that explores a movement by a growing number of people in the West disillusioned with the direction the world is taking politically, economically, and environmentally. The film documents their attempts to seek deeper spiritual meaning in their lives. As the director sets out on her own journey to discover what’s missing in our world and to understand the seekers, she delves into the connection between two of the world’s oldest wisdom traditions, Buddhism and Native American spirituality, leading us on a larger journey of interconnected consciousness. The film explores whether the answer to shifting our worldview is found in science or spirituality, or both. Filmed in Arkansas, Colorado, Ontario, and elsewhere, SEEKERS is centred on two events: an 800-person gathering at the base of a mountain sacred to Native Americans in Hot Springs, Arkansas, to raise worldwide spiritual consciousness, and a gathering of 800 at the Wake Up Festival, an inaugural assembly of seekers and spiritual teachers in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. SEEKERS documents a growing counter-tradition, a weave of voices and ideas that have nothing to do with today’s mainstream consumer society.

Catharine Tamas

Gabi Veras

Born on a tropical island, Gabi Veras has spent more than 15 years in newsrooms  both in Brazil and Canada. She has been a freelance journalist for CBC Radio  and Radio Canada International. Most recently she was as a producer for CBC  Newsworld, and also for OMNI Television in Toronto and Calgary. Telling  compelling human stories through documentary has always been her passion. In  2001, she co-produced Avi Lev’s documentary We Are Samba.

Thesis:  Healers

This story began in 2010 with Veras’ journalistic project concerning the impact of  female leaders in poor rural communities in north-east Brazil. This professional  experience soon became a personal journey about hope, a promise, and a re-encounter. Healers tells the story of a woman known as Dona Josefa who has been  a health care worker, midwife, and community leader for over 50 years. Besides  taking care of villagers, she can deeply affect people who cross her path, like  filmmaker Gabi Veras—who had a dream of becoming a mother. After a promise  made by Veras, the director returns to Sertão—Brazil’s most neglected area—and  discovers the world of herbal medicine.  Healers shows that despite the lack of support from authorities in these remote  areas, traditional medicines which combine prayer with the use of herbs are slowly  making governments realize their power. Today, some communities in the region  that have been served by these herbal-based treatments have shown themselves to  have efficient, trustworthy, and economical systems of alternative medicine.  Intrigued by such an effective way of promoting health, Veras takes the viewer on  her personal journey, uncovering an unconventional world that exists and functions  thanks to women like Dona Josefa.

Gabi Veras

Ryan Walker

Ryan Walker is an emerging photographer based in Toronto, specializing in social documentary, editorial photography, and visual advocacy. His creative practice explores intimate storytelling through film and photographic mediums.

Walker’s work has been exhibited in Canada and the United States. He has also received several awards, grants, and scholarships including the Magenta Flash Forward—Emerging Photographers award (2012), an Ontario Graduate Fellowship (2012), and a Magnum Photos scholarship (2010).

Propelled by a curiosity to explore unique narratives, Walker’s work attempts to blur the boundaries between photojournalism, documentary, and conceptual art.

Thesis: Cousin, We Have Grown Up

Cousin, We Have Grown Up provides an intimate exploration of nature, identity, and spirituality. The project focuses on Jon, a young man seeking an authentic connection with the land as he attempts to discover his true, raw self.

Having lived in a tepee for three years, Jon adapted to a sustainable lifestyle as he directly participated in procuring his food, clothing and shelter - all the while developing an intimate connection with nature. During this time Jon began to reshape his identity to be harmonious with naturalistic spiritual beliefs. Though he assumed an untraditional lifestyle, Jon remained linked to the outside world through his job as a massage therapist.

Initially intended as an examination of “back-to-the-land” sustainability and environmental stewardship, this project evolved as Jon’s life took an unexpected turn. Recently, he made the difficult decision to leave his tepee and start a new life in a house with his partner, Jess. Despite this, Jon intends to continue his physical, spiritual, and emotional relationship with the land as he seeks to maintain an existence encompassing two conflicting ways of life.

Cousin, We Have Grown Up depicts the complexities and contradictions of a man coming to terms with larger questions that involve self-identity, rejection of modern society, and the difficulties in re-establishing an authentic connection with nature.

The project combines photographs, video and candid journal entries, and is constructed with an awareness of the challenges in presenting imagery that some may construe as being appropriative of Aboriginal culture.  Cousin, We Have Grown Up  produces a layered portrait: an intimate adventure-misadventure story of a young man trying to live freely.

Ryanwalkerphoto.ca

Ryan Walker

Andrew Waller

Andrew Waller is a Toronto-based commercial and editorial photographer and educator with a BA from Ryerson University. For over 20 years he has worked at understanding the subtleties of commercial advertising and design. Working at communicating an often subtle point with the often far from subtle tools of the advertising world has led him to have a better understanding of the many forms of commercial branding and advertising. With experience in advertising design, production, and education, Waller is well situated to explore the complexities of the modern advertising world and its effects on the spaces and places that surround us.

Thesis:  Entangled Spaces

As a photographer who has worked in the advertising world for over 20 years, Andrew Waller is drawn to the impact visual branding and advertising have on the world around him.

The form of the natural world is changing around us—with the urban environment becoming the predominant natural environment for most of humanity. More than 3.5 billion people live in cities. Understanding how this environment is formed and how it affects us is essential to understanding both personal and cultural identity. Through the installation Entangled Spaces, Waller explores the impact of visual branding and advertising on forming that environment. Often the sheer volume of visual branding material in our daily environment is overwhelming, obscuring the city it is built on, producing new architectural forms and spaces. We need new ways of seeing and analyzing these spaces. By highlighting the presence of visual branding, this project seeks to engage the viewer in a discourse with these new architectural forms, and present new critical ways of understanding them. By exposing the spaces formed by urban signs and symbols and removing the environment that supports them, Entangled Spaces hopes to reveal the complexity of the branded space and its relationship in forming cultural and personal identity.

Andrewwaller.com

Andrew Waller

Ken Woroner

Originally from Montreal, Ken Woroner  is a Toronto-based photographer working in the film and television industry. His commercial work appears regularly in numerous international publications, such as the New York Times, the Guardian, USA Today, and the Globe and Mail. His photography work illustrates the 2009 book   Amelia, The Motion Picture.

Woroner has exhibited in group and solo shows as part of the Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival, at Toronto Image Works Gallery, and at Gallery 44 Centre for Contemporary Photography.

Woroner has a BA in Philosophy from McGill University and an LL.B. from York University.

Thesis:  Hardscrabble

Now known as Golden Valley, Hardscrabble was the name European settlers first gave to this small northern Ontario community upon their arrival in the 1870s. These two names neatly bracket the combination of struggle and promise present in this rural location and its starkly beautiful, economically challenging terrain.

Informed by the “city symphony” documentary film tradition, with its lyrical observation of people in urban environments, Hardscrabble is presented as a “country symphony” comprised of three movements. The first—“The Road In”—explores Woroner’s personal attachment to this place, which stretches back more than two decades. The second movement—“Survival”—branches out to explore the marks made on this locale in the short time that non-aboriginal people have inhabited the area, with emphasis on the centrality of family and the fluctuating clash between nature and humans. The final part—“The Road Out”—posits Golden Valley as a microcosm of the widespread disappearance of sustainable small-scale rural communities in Ontario.

Straddling a divide between subjective concerns and empathetic engagement, this series of photographs blends personal reflection with social commentary. While disparate elements arc from introspection to wider perspectives, veiled references to intergenerational trauma imbue the work with a somber subtext. These images of Golden Valley focus on the struggle to survive—the hardscrabble.

Kenworoner.com

Ken Woroner

Julie Yan

Julie Yan is an emerging photographer and filmmaker based in Toronto. She  has a BA in English—Rhetoric and Professional Writing. Her career includes  work in government, communications, and corporate social responsibility.

Thesis: The Heart of the Dragon 

The Heart of the Dragon  is a photo-based essay film documenting the lives of factory  workers in China. Still images of factory workers, their factories, and the products they make from factories in Dongguan and Shanghai—show the human side of manufacturing.  Incorporating video footage and ambient sound recordings, the film aims to shift viewers’  pre-existing notions of what “Made in China” looks like. The visual and aural information  presented aims to humanize the collective Chinese factory and draws attention to the  human components of manufacturing that keep China’s economy powerful.  The Heart of the  Dragon also documents a process that does not regularly enter our consciousness. It is  important to recognize the human labour behind the products we buy and sell, to show  respect and understanding for the factory workers.

Julie Yan

Mariam Zaidi

Mariam Zaidi is a film and video artist born in India, raised in the Middle East, and currently based in Toronto. She holds a BA in Communication Studies from Concordia University. While employed as a film editor in Montreal, Zaidi worked on several independent film projects ranging from Middle Eastern and South Asian politics to vignettes of local artists. Driven by her own experiences as part of the South Asian diasporic community, Zaidi has been involved in community-led projects exploring art, stories, struggles, and histories of South Asians in Canada. Zaidi’s work primarily reflects on questions of, identity, race, nationality, and migration. 

Thesis: Safar

Safar (journey) is a film about Mariam Zaidi’s sister, Rabab, who has cerebral palsy. As part of the UAE’s expatriate population, Zaidi’s family is one of many that has no access to government healthcare and no option for permanent residency. Contrasting the opulence of Dubai with its absence of social benefits, Safar examines the lack of security felt by the UAE’s expatriate population. The film focuses on Zaidi’s family’s attempt to migrate from the UAE to Canada, and its subsequent rejection based on the “excessive burden” clause of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

With challenges from Canadian immigration, Zaidi attempts to embark on an alternate route by applying for citizenship alone, in the hopes of sponsoring Rabab as her dependent. The film addresses the loss of support the filmmaker’s family has felt in her absence. Questioning rigid Canadian immigration policies that do not consider the nuances of each family situation, Safar challenges the way we look at people with disabilities in and outside of Canada as a “burden.”

Mariam Zaidi

Laine Zisman Newman

Laine Zisman Newman received her Masters degree in drama from the University of Toronto in  2010. In addition to her academic endeavours, Zisman Newman works as a performer and as  dramaturgical associate with Pat the Dog Playwright Development Centre. She has a keen  interest in social justice, queer and feminist theatre, and religion and performance.

Thesis: You’re Not My Target Audience

You’re Not My Target Audience.  is a documentary film, created by queer women and intended  for queer women. Following three professional performers as they navigate their careers as queer  women artists in Toronto, the documentary uses interviews, spoken word, and performance  pieces to address issues of access, invisibility, and oppression. Theatre creator Moynan King,  hip-hop artist MC Jazz, and performance artist Jess Dobkin discuss their artistic works and the  mandates and uses of various performance spaces in Toronto.

By no means are the women of the film victims. This is not a story of women defeated. You’re  Not My Target Audience.  demonstrates how women are still creating, producing, and supporting  one another as they determine their own destinies despite the challenges they face. With a cast of  all queer women, the film negotiates the obstacles and celebrates the achievements of queer  women performers in Toronto.


Laine Zisman

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
 
   
   
Class 2012

Kristyna Balaban

Monika Berenyi

Kieran Dick

Kevin Fraser

Melissa Gordon

Jonathan Groeneweg

Nancy Jibbe

Adrienne Marcus Raja

David Martinez

Rehab Nazzal

Abdi Osman

Robert Palmer

 

Marcelo Paolinelli

Arianne Persaud

Victoria Ptashnick

Guy Raivitz

Halley Roback

Caitlin M. Rodger

Ashley Simpson

Ruth Skinner

Corbin Smith

Alex Ternowetsky

Samantha Wehbi

Meredith Wright

Kristyna Balaban

Kristyna Balaban is a Toronto-based documentary filmmaker, videographer, and activist. The daughter of Czech dissidents, she has experienced many cultures, and these influences appear in her work. She holds a BA in Social Anthropology from the University of Toronto and has worked in community development and as a videographer and photographer for independent media in Toronto. Her debut film Toxic Ingredients received the award for best documentary at the University of Toronto Film Festival and was an official selection for the Toronto International Film Festival Student Showcase and TIFF Sprockets Film Festival. Most recently she worked as a researcher and community media production support for the National Film Board's Highrise project.

 Thesis: Romano Drom: A Story of Youth

Romano Drom: A Story of Youth looks at the lives of four Roma youth living in the Czech Republic and Slovakia. The youth share deeply personal stories about their experiences, passions, and opinions, and by doing so they examine the often painful political and social realities of being a Roma youth growing up in post-communist Czech Republic and Slovakia. These intimate reflections reveal the important issues and obstacles they deal with daily, such as racism, segregation, and access to education.

The rise of right-wing extremism, nationalist parties, and neo-Nazi groups in Europe has adversely affected Roma community whose living standards have plunged significantly since the fall of communism. In Central and Eastern Europe Roma suffer from both the lowest education levels and the highest unemployment rates. They are often targeted and victimized by right-wing groups. The lack of communication and segregation between Roma and non-Roma in the Czech Republic and Slovakia enable discrimination and prejudice to flourish. Romano Drom: A Story of Youth is a personal attempt at bridging this divide and creating a space where respectful dialogue about the issues that affect these Roma youth can begin.

At a time when media largely portray Roma youth as criminal and uneducated, the film's subjects challenge the negative and simplistic stereotypes imposed on them by actively seeking positive change in their communities.

Kristyna Balaban

Monika Berenyi

Monika Berenyi has studied at the University of Toronto (MA, BA), ArtEZ Hogeschool voor de Kunsten, and the Accademia D’Arte Firenze. She has conducted research at the Library of Congress, Smithsonian Institution, and the Open Society Archives, and her work has been exhibited internationally. She currently teaches art history at the University of Toronto and the Royal Ontario Museum.

Thesis: American Document 

www.americandocument.org

Monika Berenyi is a visual artist whose creative practice is animated by storytelling and the archive. Using interdisciplinary research and production methods, her work investigates latent values in archival documents, and questions the mechanisms which contribute to constructs of collective memory and official histories. Her work is expressed in the form of dynamic visual languages which intend to stimulate critical dialogues and alternative pedagogical platforms. Her practice is informed by the disciplines of history, ethnography, and visual art, and cultivated in the spirit of pluralism. Recent projects have explored topics in twentieth-century American social history, including the Great Depression and the Civil Rights movement.

www.monikaberenyi.com

Monika Berenyi

Kieran Dick

As a writer, editor, and director, dividing his time between New York and Toronto, Kieran Dick sometimes forgets to eat and sleep. Some of his moving images have appeared in festivals around the world, while some of his works have never been shown to anyone. His films live somewhere between fact and fiction and he sometimes gets confused writing about myself in the third person.

 Thesis: détente

détente is comparative account of World War II based on two sets of letters. A relaxation of tensions on a national scale is pursued through similar experiences found within the personal written documents of a German soldier and an American officer. Their private expressions concerning the separation of families during warfare are combined with the historical propaganda films from their own nations to create a possibility for compassion and understanding between any two sides at war. The narrative excerpts from these two military men and the visuals become abstractions of sight and sound through editing and animation. These abstractions seek to represent any one in any conflict. At its most basic, or perhaps most naive level of peaceful intent, détente suggests, “If you get to know someone, you probably won't want to kill them.” Hopefully.

Kieran Dick

Kevin Fraser

Kevin Fraser is a screenwriter, filmmaker, and teacher based in Toronto. He has written for several TV projects, from animation to awards shows, and is co-creator of the preschool series The Garden Swing. As a filmmaker, Fraser has completed a feature-length documentary, Living as Brothers, which examines the lives of Jamaican migrant workers toiling in the fruit orchards of Niagara. A graduate of the Sheridan College Media Arts program and Film program at York University (BFA, Honours), Fraser is an instructor of Film Studies, Photography, and TV Studies at Seneca College.

Thesis: Analogue

Analogue explores the resurgence of old-school, outdated, or historical processes in the digital age. The digital world promises speed, economy, and convenience — everything available at our fingertips on our computers. But as the convergence trend accelerates, many are starting to question the costs of this shift to digital, non-physical forms. By following several artists working in different media, Analogue uncovers what we might be losing. From luthiers handcrafting guitars, filmmakers hand-processing film, to a legendary record producer refusing to use computers in making a record, these artists are holding on to the old methods for qualities, processes, and experiences that are vanishing or leading precarious lives in the world of computers. Analogue explores what makes each medium unique, how physicality connects us to our world, why old forms might survive longer than their digital counterparts, and why the price we pay for the speed, convenience, and perfection of digital may be too high.

Kevin Fraser

Melissa Gordon

Melissa Gordon is a photographer and emerging filmmaker hailing from Brampton, Ontario. Her work frequently explores theatre and the human body. She is constantly in pursuit of new projects within the genres of contemporary dance and film.

Thesis: Obskyura

In the documentary film, Obskyura, Melissa Gordon follows an up-and-coming burlesque performance artist in Toronto on her journey of creativity, madness, and longing. This film explores the unique work and life of “Obskyura,” the performance artist, who frequently delves into controversial themes stemming from real life experiences. At the beginning of the film, the character's identity is obscured. The main character is revealed through a series of candid exchanges between the filmmaker and subject in the confines of the performer’s apartment where she spent the summer of 2012 in relative seclusion. As the film progresses, Obskyura is completely unveiled.

Obskyura is more than just a portrait of the artist; it is an investigation of the relationship between the subject, filmmaker, and audience. It also explores the multiple perspectives at play within the creative but sometimes isolating documentary film process.

Melissa Gordon

Jonathan Groeneweg

Jonathan Groeneweg was born and raised in Calgary and has lived in Toronto since 2010. Studies at the University of Calgary earned him a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree with specialization in photography. Groeneweg has taken part in several solo and group exhibitions within Canada, travelled internationally for photo and video projects, and developed a strong community-based arts practice via various educational, artist-in-residence, and outreach programs.

Groeneweg's artistic practice distorts traditional relations between image, scale, indexicality, and the photographic frame by employing composite panoramic images with a focused subject matter of gardens, ruins, and urban space. Addressing historical and contemporary issues within the discourses of documentary, landscape, philosophy, photography, sustainability, and urban development, Groeneweg explores the human/nature duality as a fundamental cultural construct and how this dialectic manifests in the ways humanity thinks about, and acts towards, the physical world we live in.

Thesis: The Nature of Urbanity

The Nature of Urbanity explores and problematizes the human/nature dialectic as a cultural construct fundamental to the development of meaning, purpose, and security for the otherwise fragile human condition. Addressing historical and contemporary issues within the discourses of landscape, philosophy, and urban development, The Nature of Urbanity employs aerial photo-panoramic composites of urban vegetable gardens, exposing this relationship by juxtaposing the mathematical precision and control of constructed space with the organic chaos of foliage and greenery.

The garden as a physical and intellectual space is essential to understanding the evolution of the nature concept in culture. The garden represents humanity's first organization into society bringing freedom from the tumults of life in the wilderness and allowing for the construction of our most romantic and idyllic notions of nature. Given the current global entropic crisis, we need to reconsider our integration in the global biosphere, which will require an empathic re-envisioning of our physical and metaphysical relationship with nature.

Our understanding of nature emerges directly from a changing idea of what it means to be human. This ultimately determines how we think about and act toward the world. On the one hand, we have developed nature as a realm of physical "stuff" studied and defined by science, while on the other, we approach it through a transcendental reverence that invokes the sublime. What is routinely missed, ignored, feared, or disclaimed in an effort to maintain the intellectual purity of the binary is nature’s existence as a product of culture.

jonathangroeneweg.com

Jonathan Groeneweg



Nancy Jibbe

Nancy Jibbe is a Toronto-based filmmaker, musician, and activist with a background in Communication Studies from the University of Calgary. Born and raised in war-torn Beirut, Jibbe has been inspired by the tightly knit community she was a part of growing up. During the Lebanese civil war, Jibbe’s family and neighbours sought shelter in a warehouse where fear was often quieted with candle-lit storytelling, singing, and dancing. Jibbe still remembers how the women huddled together, children by their side, peeling potatoes and often chatting about their daily concerns and private affairs. Her love of hearing people share their stories and using those stories to bring together and inspire communities has driven her to make documentary films that use story to connect audiences, inform them, and move them to become more engaged in their own communities.

Thesis: Waiting for Waladi

In the Middle East, tradition dictates that a couple’s status in family and community depends on their ability to bear children, preferably sons. Couples that experience difficulties conceiving are often stigmatized. Women are held responsible regardless of who the infertile spouse is. Waiting for Waladi is a film that tells the stories of three Bedouin women from the Lebanese Bekaa Valley who had to deal with their husbands’ infertility. The documentary aims to expose the cultural burdens of marriage on young women and the subsequent pressures by family members on newlywed couples to bear children. Not being able to bear children, the three women share a familiar story that is repeated throughout many parts of the world: They are immediately blamed for the infertility and are forced to live in shame. Waiting for Waladi is an intimate portrait that lets viewers hear the voices of women discussing a matter that is almost undiscussable in the Middle East.

 

Nancy Jibbe

Adrienne Marcus Raja

Adrienne Marcus Raja is a storyteller and editor from Sarawak, Malaysia, working mainly with video including videos from her homeland. She earned her Bachelors of Arts in Mass Communication at Curtin University in Sarawak. Marcus Raja has acted as cameraperson, editor, producer and director of short films and videos, including promotional videos and documentaries, in both Malaysia and Canada. As a member of the indigenous Kelabit tribe, Marcus Raja is particularly interested in using video and other media to explore the lives and cultures of disappearing communities. She is interested in telling visual stories that challenge viewers to reach their own interpretations, rather than in using her stories to argue or convince.

Thesis: Stories Around the Tetel 

Tetel, in the language of the indigenous Kelabit tribe of the interior highlands of Northeastern Sarawak, Borneo, means cooking hearth or fireplace. In Kelabit culture, the tetel was a place for mediation, negotiation, matchmaking and communal gatherings. Today, Kelabit language and culture are gradually disappearing as young Kelabits leave for urban centres to further their education. With this project Marcus Raja, herself a curious and eager member of the Kelabit tribe, aims to highlight the declining relevance of the tetel to the Kelabit community and to explore some of the causes and effects of the loss of its traditional function. For Marcus Raja, the tetel has acted as a bridge to transfer knowledge about family structure, traditional culture, and social relationships. Its loss represents the loss of Kelabit language and culture in the race for progress, it represents changing realities.

Her installation examines Kelabit concepts of individual, communal, and cultural identity as Kelabit voices, around the tetel, tell stories of continuity and change across the last few decades. As the Kelabit embrace development, the rapid disappearance of the tetel has affected Kelabit oral history and language, changing the social context and experience of communal gatherings. By reconstructing and humanizing the tetel in this installation, Marcus Raja explores the topic of cultural deterioration. Through it, she aims for a personal representation of a society in transition, and for a narrative balance between the forgotten past and the uncertainty of the future of her own identity.

www.adriennemarcusraja.com

Adrienne Marcus-Raja

David Martinez

David Martinez is a visual artist from Mexico City with an MFA degree in Visual Arts from the University of North Dakota. In the video production field for more than a decade, he began his documentary experience by collaborating on a production with the Anthropology National Institute of Mexico on a film about the practices and dynamics of the site restoration team in the Ek Balam, Yucatan. His recent work focuses on aspects of history, ethnicity, memory, traditions, and folklore, as well as the body as identity.

Thesis: Drums and Feathers

Drums and Feathers juxtaposes pre-Columbian Mexican dances of three important ancient cultures (Conchero dance from the Nahuatl, Papantla flying from the Totonac, and Chinantec dances from the Oaxaca valley with original music compositions. The video examines self-representation, symbolism, and meaning in contemporary Mexico.

The documentary intends to represent some of the interactions of the traditional music and dance performances in contemporary Mexican indigenous cultures. Through collective memory and performance as a social ritual, these interactions highlight identities and ethnicities, as well as the role of body language in cultural displays. The project reveals the distinctions of visual and aural codes through cultural syncretism.

David Martinez

Rehab Nazzal

Rehab Nazzal is a Palestinian-born multidisciplinary artist based in Toronto. She holds a BFA from the University of Ottawa, and a BA in Economics from Damascus University, Syria. She has done post-graduate work in International Economic Relations at the University of National and World Economy, Sofia, Bulgaria. Nazzal’s work has been shown in Canada and internationally in both group and solo exhibitions, including International Yellowknife Film Festival, Montreal Palestine Film Festival, SAW Video, International Mini Print Festival, Gallery 101, Ottawa X-photography Festival, and A Space Gallery. Nazzal has received several awards, scholarships, and grants, including the Edmund and Isobel Ryan Visual Arts award in photography (University of Ottawa), Documentary Photography for Social Justice Award (Ryerson), Ontario Graduate Scholarships and Ryerson University Scholarships, Ontario Art Council and City of Ottawa grants.

Thesis:  At Home

Interweaving personal experience and archival documents, and integrating individual and collective memory, the multi-video installation At Home addresses the continued violations of Palestinian human rights by the Israeli occupation forces. Employing still and moving images, and sound, At Home transmits the Palestinian struggle for freedom from the streets of Palestine to the space of a gallery in Toronto.

The silent videos Mourning and Target commemorate Palestinian intellectuals, leaders, and activists who were assassinated by the Israeli intelligence agencies, including Mossad, inside the occupied Palestine and across the world. These two videos are juxtaposed with three additional video works. A Night at Home documents a night invasion by the occupation forces. In the absence of light, the camera captures only the sound of shooting and the whispers of a son, mother, and grandmother posing unanswerable questions. One Thousand Palestinian Political Prisoners depicts the portraits of one thousand Palestinian prisoners. Each portrait appears for a fraction of a second before it is wiped from view, questioning the value of human lives in times of war. BIL’IN dispatches the sound of local, international, and Israeli peace activists fleeing tear gas attacks by the Israeli occupation forces in the village of Bil’in located in the West Bank.

The five videos together constitute a documentary-based installation that questions the silence surrounding Israel’s colonial practices in Palestine and its violations of international law. At Home places the viewers as witnesses to the loss of lives and peace in a land known as “Holy."

http://www.rehabnazzal.com/

Rehab Nazzal

Abdi Osman

Abdi Osman is a Somali-Canadian photographer whose work focuses on questions of black masculinity as it intersects with Muslim and queer identities. His work has been supported by a grant from the Ontario Arts Council. Osman’s photographs are in private collections and the Canada Council Art Bank. Some of his work appeared in the year-long group show DiaporaArt: Strategy and Seduction by Canadian Artists from Culturally Diverse Communities at Rideau Hall. In 2010, Osman was an artist-in-residence at the McColl Center for Visual Art in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Thesis: Labeeb

Labeeb is an intimate portrait of Sumaya, a Somali trans-woman. The project consists of large-scale colour photographs, and a double-projection video. Some of the photographs are studio portraits where Sumaya sat for the artist; others depict Sumaya in her daily life. One video also documents aspects of her daily life, while the other portrays Sumaya performing a Somali ritual usually reserved for women. This practice is one that Somali women undertake when preparing for a special occasion or ceremony. The practice itself is a hybrid: traditional and religious. The double projection is meant to add texture and complexity to Osman’s attempt to engage with questions of gender, sexuality, and culture. The videos speak to the hybrid cultural expressions of Sumaya and other persons like her. These images place African-born trans-people directly within the traditions of their African/black cultural heritage. While posing questions concerning gender, culture, and religion, the videos examine how the body can move into new states of being. They are themselves “trans-ing” practices, crossing the traditional with the new all-in-one body. This work pushes back against claims made by some African leaders that there are no African queers in their countries. Osman’s work puts African/black trans-people on record. It questions how we understand the various roles bodies play or perform, and which bodies or genders are understood to perform them—in particular, assumptions we make about female, black, queer, and trans bodies.

Abdi Osman

Robert Palmer

Robert Palmer was born and raised in Niagara Falls, Ontario and has lived and studied in Toronto since 2005. Palmer earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, specializing in Photography, from OCAD University. In his third year of study, Palmer participated in the Advanced Off-Campus Study in Florence and has had solo and group exhibitions in North America and Europe. Palmer uses his camera as a tool for transcendence into the quiet realities of his subjects. Through the individual testimonies that guide his narratives, Palmer’s intention is to encapsulate the emotional resonance of a place and time. Through his documentary practice, Palmer hopes to establish a dialogue around the invisibility of the human psyche and articulate the incomplete thoughts that he has yet to find words for. Palmer is loosely based in Toronto and entertains prospects for international assignments.

Thesis: Memories of Panjshir

Memories of Panjshir is a photo-based project that employs, through intimate testimony, the involuntary recurring memories of Abdul Rahman Mohammadi, 42, a war crime victim from Afghanistan who is struggling to adapt to life as a political refugee in Canada. Mohammadi is recognized in his native country as the president of the Afghan International Peace Federation. This makes him a target for the Taliban and other criminal organizations who believe in war-mongering policies and practices. Mohammadi has been a prisoner of war in Afghanistan. He has lost much of his immediate family through violent criminal acts and has been critically wounded three separate times in his journey to discover a life without the threat of violence. In 2010 Abdul was forced to escape from his native country and leave behind his family—who now wait for his unlikely remittance under the strict surveillance of the government. Through the fragmented representation of Canada’s urban peripheries as unfamiliar territory, Memories of Panjshir blends Mohammadi’s tangible surroundings with the invisible force of the recollections he is unable to control. By encouraging dialogue around flashbulb memories triggered by the ordinary, this project highlights the problem of post-traumatic stress disorder in victims of war and torture as they struggle to adapt to refugee life in Canada.

Robert Palmer

Marcelo Paolinelli

Marcelo Paolinelli is a writer, journalist, and filmmaker from Belo Horizonte, Brazil. He graduated with a BA in Journalism from the University of Belo Horizonte and has worked as a reporter and photojournalist in both Brazil and Canada. His work as a documentarian includes researching and producing for Canada Direto, a Brazilian-focused variety show at CBC/RCI. Paolinelli has also worked as a scriptwriter and production assistant on an HIV/AIDS video for the Portuguese-speaking community in Toronto. In 2011, his short documentary film, Crystal, was screened in the Pink Latin Film Festival in Toronto. His work explores social justice and human rights issues, gender, and sexuality. After many years volunteering with the "Betinho" Project, which was inspired by the work of Brazilian humanitarian and activist Herbert “Betinho” de Souza (1935-1997),  Paolinelli developed an acute interest in looking at food as a basic human right.

Thesis: Food for All

Food for All is a documentary film concerning the legacy of Brazilian humanitarian and activist Herbert “Betinho” de Souza (1935-1997), focusing on the alternative food system developed by the city of Belo Horizonte in Brazil to combat hunger and malnutrition. In 1993 the city declared that, regardless of socio-economic status, all citizens would have the basic right to access food. Since then, Belo Horizonte has built a food system not seen anywhere else in the world. This system is unique for its broad reach and its goal of assuring the right to food for all in a dignified and respectful way.

Food for All explores some of the pioneering initiatives developed by Belo Horizonte‚Äôs municipal government such as the iconic Popular Restaurant (Restaurante Popular) — public eateries that offer healthy, balanced meals for R$2.00 (about CAD $1.09) since 1994. This universal program serves over 20,000 meals a day to women and children, retired people, bank clerks, and students. It is open to all.

 

In Food for All the filmmaker depicts the circumstances in the lives of people from different backgrounds, people who have been touched by the innovative and effective food security programs in Belo Horizonte. As the audience gets a glimpse into the lives of the characters, we learn how resilient and courageous each one of them is. The film analyzes and celebrates Belo Horizonte’s world-renowned alternative food system and its success in supporting a basic human right.

Marcelo Paolinelli

Arianne Persaud

Arianne Persaud is a writer and editor at the independent food magazine Acquired Taste. Though the written word is the medium in which she feels most comfortable, she is currently exploring documentary film as a means to communicate ideas around food and culture to mass audiences. She is passionate about food issues, from farming and food production to cooking and food presentation.

Thesis: The Grass Is Always Greener

It all started with a cow-pool. Arianne Persaud decided to buy a side of grass-fed beef with some friends in Toronto as a way of connecting with the food she ate. It was also a means of coping with paranoia about the state of factory farms and “conventional” meat. This simple act started the wheels turning as Persaud soon realized that this “grass-fed beef” which she had gone out of her way to obtain was something that was readily available in her home country — Guyana. The film continues with the paradox as Persaud meets with like-minded young people who are all similarly going out of their way to be involved in the production of their food. But the memory of home is ever-present and the effortless way that the closeness to food is maintained there is contrasted against the strivings of young Torontonians to find healthy food. In The Grass Is Always Greener two societies are joined together in a manner that highlights the shared history of human food production and consumption, and the psychology that separates those societies.

Arianne Persaud

Victoria Ptashnick

Victoria Ptashnick grew up just outside of Winnipeg where telling stories was one of the few activities available to help people get through freezing prairie winters. She spent a good part of her childhood and teenage years in the Winnipeg Public Library near her parents’ house. Her love of stories led her to write for the Winnipeg Free Press after high school. She later completed a journalism degree at Carleton University in Ottawa. Ptashnick has been an associate radio producer for CBC Ottawa, CBC Toronto, and CBC Manitoba. Her work has also appeared in the Globe and Mail and the Toronto Sun. Ptashnick is currently a reporter for the Toronto Star.

Thesis: As Far as the Eye Can See

A prairie field in Winnipeg is where a mystery occurred one summer night in 2001, and from this evening onward an obsession grew. As Far as the Eye Can See takes the audience on a journey back to Ptashnik’s home town, retracing familiar places and fading clues. For Ptashnik, home is a place of warm memories, but also one which evokes terrible recollections. In a field close to Ptashnik’s home, the body of a murdered aboriginal woman was dumped. A young girl at the time, Ptashnik considers the discovery of this grisly event a loss of innocence, and the story continues to haunt her. As Far as the Eye Can See documents Ptashnik’s journey back to her childhood neighbourhood. She endeavours to learn as much as she can about the murder and the the murder victim. As she walks in the the victim’s footsteps, her ideas about the beloved places she came from are forever changed, leaving her to confront dark truths about her community.

Victoria Ptashnick

Guy Raivitz

In 1995, after earning his Bachelor in Fine Arts from Bezalel Academy of Art and Design in Jerusalem, Guy Raivitz was left with many questions about his own culture. He was pondering the way it was responding to the human condition and the ways it was addressing the needs and aspirations of its members. Wanting a wider perspective and a firsthand experience on these issues, Raivitz traveled to Africa, spending three years working in South Africa, Namibia, and Angola. Returning to Israel, he worked as a photojournalist while pursuing his personal work. His first monograph entitled Backyard, depicting the turbulent Israeli reality in the 2000s, was published in Paris in 2009. Touching on various subjects, Raivitz’s body of work is always evolving. It is Raivitz’s curiosity, intuition, and willingness to question his own beliefs that propel his work.

Thesis: Trust Your Eyes

Trust Your Eyes is a reflection on photographic images and the challenges of representation in contemporary documentary photography. In this project Raivitz questions documentary’s claim on the truth, impartiality, and the ability of photographs to represent different realities. To challenge the conventional view of documentary images, Raivitz uses his gaze to question our ability to grasp reality, in particular by interrogating the act of looking at the world as a failed means of understanding it. While exploring the limitations of representation, Raivitz is also looking for new ways of representing the world through images. His hope is that such ways will enable photographs to point to the complexity and uncertainty of the human condition.

Trust Your Eyes aims to expose the unwritten agreement that exists between image makers and their audiences. The project breaks down the standard photographer/viewer relationship as a means of asking us to rethink how we look at pictures. In so doing, Trust Your Eyes highlights the role of viewers in giving images their significance and meaning, asking them to re-consider how they look at images, the preconceived perceptions they bring to them, and, therefore, what meaning they expect photographs to deliver. To explore these issues, Raivitz created pictures from a range of genres confirming that even the most mundane scene is packed with meaning.

www.raivitz.com

Guy Raivitz

Halley Roback

Halley Roback is a filmmaker, videographer, and writer based in Toronto. Originally from the Maritimes, she holds a BA in Sociology from Mount Allison University in Sackville, New Brunswick. As a result of her enriching experience studying and working in the sociology department at Mount Allison, she developed a keen interest in Canadian nationalism, war, and social justice. Roback pursued these issues in her academic career, and collaborated on published works including Geoff Martin and Erin Steuter’s book Pop Culture Goes to War. Roback continues to work towards social equality through non-traditional forms of learning, including documentary. Roback is driven by documentary’s ability to record and share the stories of those who are marginalized, in order to effect and inspire change.

 Thesis: Brunswick St

Brunswick St. tells the story of a group of young friends in Halifax in the 1970s. Amidst the ethos resulting from the civil rights movement, the feminist movement, and the opposition to the Vietnam War spilling over into Canada, the group found a commonality in each other — to “create a better world.” With the idea that one’s actions on a personal level can have a larger political impact, the group set out to work and live cooperatively, building a community based on shared ideals around equality and social justice in an effort to create this different, better world. Interweaving past and present-day footage, the filmmaker threads a story about her parents and their friends in their quest to live differently. Brunswick St. explores themes of youth engagement and community in working towards social change — a story that remains timeless.

Halley Robak

Caitlin M. Rodger

Caitlin M. Rodger is a documentary filmmaker, editor, videographer, and writer. She earned a Bachelor of Science, Honours, at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario with a major in Environmental Science. Passionate about the natural world, Rodger helped found Queen’s Backing Action on Climate Change, a campus group dedicated to advocating for greenhouse gas reduction by Canadian universities.

With an interest to uniting her commitment to environmental issues with her love of image arts, Rodger studied photography at the Emily Carr Institute in Vancouver and video production at Ryerson’s Chang School. She has participated in Earth Day Canada’s Film Competition and has had her work screened at the Toronto Youth Shorts Film Festival. Her love of different landscapes and cultures brought her to work on an environmental project in the northern part of Costa Rica and to her current project in the southeast of Morocco.

Thesis: Timnadine Songs

Timnadine Songs is a film that depicts the journey of Hmad Laarossi, a young Amazigh (Berber) musician, songwriter, and activist living in the southeast of Morocco. Laarossi blends traditional songs with African desert blues music on electric guitars. His band, Imodda, uses music to preserve their cultural heritage, to inspire Amazigh youth to take pride in their language and culture, and to fight for Amazigh rights in North Africa.

Spending the first years of his life in the backcountry of the Sahara Desert, Laarossi is profoundly influenced by the desert landscape, in both his life and work. He writes lyrics rich in metaphors about the natural world and uses them as a way to speak out against state policies aimed at erasing the identity and memory of his people. The story interweaves scenes of his band, lots of music, and discussions from community members, artists, and activists to reveal a flourishing Amazigh revival in Morocco led by artists and youths.

Caitlin Rodger

Ashley Simpson

Ashley Simpson is a documentary artist originally from the west coast of Canada now living in Toronto. Her previous studies were in Communications at the University of Ottawa where she examined theories and ideologies of media and culture. She is now a media practitioner herself — infusing her work with philosophical explorations that aim to blur boundaries and question assumptions. In addition to her personal practice, she also works with World Literacy Canada to provide video documentation of the Toronto-based charity’s Canadian programs.

Thesis: Hand In Leash

Hand in Leash is a personal, exploratory documentary investigating the kinship between humans and dogs. Through observing and speaking with others, as well as turning the camera on her own relationship with her dog Stella, the filmmaker questions what we know about the human/animal dichotomy, while revealing how our relationships with these non-humans can reshape our philosophies on life. The film’s light-hearted style brings a new perspective to the documentary tradition by moving the camera to a new level and letting the dogs “speak” for themselves.

www.ashleyviolet.com

Ashley Simpson

Ruth Skinner

Ruth Skinner is a Toronto-based documentary photographer who blends traditional and contemporary practices using the enduring aesthetic of black and white. Originally from Prince Edward Island, Skinner studied fine art at Mount Allison University in 1983, followed by a year at the Alberta College of Art, before completing a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design (NSCAD) University in 1989. During her studies, she developed an interest in ferry systems and their cultural significance. In 1992, Skinner received a grant from the Prince Edward Island Council of the Arts to document the final years of the Borden/Cape Tormentine Ferry before the opening of the Confederation Bridge linking P.E.I. to New Brunswick. Since then she has documented ferries throughout the Maritimes, the UK, and Toronto. Her work has been exhibited at the Anna Leonowens Gallery in Halifax, and Harbourfront Gallery and AWOL Gallery in Toronto.

Thesis: Passages

Passages is a photographic documentary which explores the 179-year history of the Toronto Island Ferry and its interrelationship with the residents and non-residents of the Toronto Islands. The fifteen-minute ferry ride transports passengers from a busy and chaotic downtown core to an idyllic and peaceful landscape, creating an interesting psychological and physical shift. One aspect of this journey is a linear sequence of events in time (a beginning, middle, and end), while the other is non-linear involving inner thought and memory. In this vein, Passages explores how the external journey maps the internal world.

A ferry not only transports people between geographical and psychological realities but also changes over time with advances in technology and modes of transportation (that is, the introduction of faster ferries and the building of bridges). Ferries can become historical relics offering a unique focus for exploring the evolving and dissolving connections between subject and place. Combining contemporary photographs with archival imagery, Passages examines time, place, and the archive’s role in documentary practice.

www.marilynruthskinner.ca

Ruth Skinner

Corbin Smith

Corbin Smith is a Canadian photographer based in Toronto. He is the photo editor and staff photographer for the online news publication Torontoist and works as an independent commercial photographer. He also sits on the board of the Toronto Chapter of the Canadian Association of Professional Image Creators. Smith has exhibited his photographic art in various solo and group shows since 2007, and his commercial, photojournalistic, and academic work has recently received top Canadian and North American awards in their respective fields. Above all, Smith is most interested in storytelling, across all forms of communication. Not only does he endeavour to share compelling and engaging stories, but he also investigates the ontology of storytelling in both his research and his practice.

 Thesis: Fundamental Requirements of a Documentary Work: A Manifesto

Fundamental Requirements of a Documentary Work: A Manifesto is a two-part, call-and-answer exploration of the artist's hypothesis that any creative work to be considered "documentary" must exhibit five particular fundamental characteristics. The audience first navigates a physical manifestation of a thoroughly researched paper exploring the nature of documentary forms across varied artistic disciplines. The research paper is reduced to a series of five statements describing each fundamental characteristic of documentary. Audience members experience each of the five characteristics sequentially as they pass through a series of doors—each door not only communicating a single characteristic but also alluding to the scholarship and theory in which the particular argument is grounded. Beyond the series of doors lies a collection of documentary art pieces which all exhibit the five fundamental characteristics of documentary. This collection of art exclaims that, "Yes, this is all documentary work," yet allows each work to speak for itself and makes no value judgments on any work. In addition to the thematic connection of "exhibiting documentary characteristics," both the series of doors and the various documentary art pieces explore notions of passages through space and time.

Corbin Smith

Alex Ternowetsky

Thesis: TREEPLANTERLAND

In TREEPLANTERLAND, the viewer is made an honorary rookie on the crew of Foreman Nick, seasoned veteran of the British Columbian bush, and a man whose tutelage has “made a treeplanter” out of some of the most hapless sots Canadian society has yet produced.

Alex Ternowetsky

Samantha Wehbi

As an Arab woman living in Canada, Samantha Wehbi creates work that visually represents the interconnection of global North and South contexts and that underscores political and personal intersections. Her professional practice includes activism on various social issues, including war. Her current work is informed by her past professional background as a social worker practising in community settings in Canada and Lebanon and her current position as an Associate Professor at the Ryerson School of Social Work. Her photographic practice also centres on creating abstract images of urban landscapes using analogue and digital processes.

Thesis: Here, There, and Nowhere: Imaginary Geographies of Translocal Spaces 

Here, There, and Nowhere: Imaginary Geography of Translocal Spaces brings together the artist’s backgrounds in anti-colonial social work and photographic practice to explore the themes of war, poverty, and globalization. On a political level, the creation of fictitious cityscapes highlights the interconnections between contexts and engages the viewer in a non-didactic deciphering of what lies in the interstices of here and there. By creating representations that highlight hybridity and translocality, the use of fictitious landscapes subverts the neocolonial gaze that imposes and demands cultural authenticity. Cities are presented as alive, inhabited, and bearing signs of resistance without being reproduced in images as exotic “others” and bucolic landscapes “untouched” by civilization—some of the familiar visual tropes of colonial and neocolonial photography.

On a personal level, the creation of fictitious cityscapes reflects the artist’s experience of the contexts that she inhabits in Canada and Lebanon as being materially but not sensually distinct. It is a frequent occurrence that a smell, sight, or feeling she experiences in Toronto reminds her of Beirut. For many immigrants and others displaced by war, poverty, or other reasons, memories of place not only exist at an intellectual level, but also as an embodied sensation of being transposed to another place. The creation of fictitious cityscapes that bring together the here and there resonates on a level of understanding that goes beyond descriptions of place and time to a level of feeling, thinking, and experiencing, that encapsulates what it feels like to exist in more than one place at once.

http://samanthawehbi.pixpasites.com

Samantha Wehbi

Meredith Wright

Meredith Wright is a documentary filmmaker, editor, and videographer based in Toronto. Wright holds a BA in English Literature and Political Science from McGill University. She acted as the Associate Arts Director of Television McGill (TVM), an editorially autonomous student-run media group. At TVM she hosted, filmed, and edited television and Web segments. It was her involvement with TVM that first ignited her love of visual storytelling. Wright currently acts as the videographer for the Toronto-based program This Is Not a Reading Series (TINARS) that explores the literary process in a non-conventional way. Whether it’s shooting punk concerts in badly lit bars in Toronto or filming fashion models getting chased by monkeys in Kyoto, Wright’s passion for documentary is unwavering.

Thesis: Agency

Agency is a documentary film that follows young Western women struggling to work as models in Osaka’s unforgiving fashion market. The film features two protagonists, Marta, a hardened twenty-year-old from Estonia and Holly a wide-eyed thirteen-year-old from Ottawa. Both stories intersect as Holly enters the world that Marta knows all too well. A modelling contract in Japan is often packaged as a lucrative and rare opportunity, but Wright’s footage hints at the questionable business transactions actually taking place.

Having modelled extensively in Canada and abroad, the filmmaker is well versed in the ins and outs of the fashion industry. Her first-hand knowledge contributes to her emphatic gaze on the models as they oscillate between newfound independence and heart-breaking vulnerability.

The Osaka fashion world is a lesser-known catalogue market specializing in bridal and lingerie work. Japan’s standard of femininity praises adolescent girls pouting in lingerie ads and posing in wedding gowns. To satisfy customer demand, young Western women are brought to Japan on modelling contracts lured by guarantees of wealth and glamour, with everyone profiting but the models themselves. Alone and far from home, models are especially susceptible to the exploitations inherent in the fashion business.

Agency offers an intimate look into one of the obscure corners of the modelling industry. Wright’s film asks questions about regulations in the modelling world while exploring broader concepts of beauty in an age when young girls are raised on images of Photoshopped faces and airbrushed limbs.

Meredith Wright

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
 
   
   
Class 2011

Layal Al-Haidari

Colleen Ayoup

Esther Buckareff

Jessica Dymond

Joel Elliott

Drew Ferguson

Elisa Gonzalez

Barbara Greczny

Tanja Grinberg

Dafydd Hughes

Scott Humphries

Paula John

Ben Lenzner

 

Eduardo Lima de Oliveira

Christopher Manson

Serena McCarroll

Elizabeth Moore

Julie Pasila

Laura J. Turnbull

Garett Walker

Lulu Wei

Maja Zonjic

Layal Al-Haidari

Layal Al-Haidari is a Toronto-bas­ed artist, musician, and filmmaker of Lebanese and Iraqi descent who tells stories by combining her own music, film, fashion, and writing, as well as creatively collaborating with others. Al-Haidari often uses abstract imagery and surreal performance art to convey universal themes, ranging from the inane and mundane to the magic and mystery of human experience. After graduating from Ryerson University’s Broadcast Journalism program in 2004, Al-Haidari worked as a researcher and associate producer in television current affairs, including VisionTV’s 360 Vision and CTV’s SexTV. In addition to her documentary work, Al-Haidari directs and produces music videos for her alter-ego, “Roxi Diabla,” who sings and raps sexy, silly, original music related to gender, sexuality, and relationships. Her debut single and music video “Arabian Dream Queen” was screened at Reelworld Film Festival in April 2010 and can be found on YouTube.

Thesis: House of God

House of God is a visual, musical, essay-style film that journeys through Toronto’s electronic music scene to examine states of trance facilitated through music, drugs, and dance. Through encounters with musicians, dancers, DJs, academics, and scientists, the film highlights and questions what it means to get lost in the music, and the human search for something more. The experiences of individuals who use song and dance as a way to experience God, including Christian, Native American, Baha’i and Ismaili Muslim, are also paralleled with those who live for the dance floor. A collaborative collage of sound and image, including original music by local and international DJs, as well as video footage, photos, and performance art, House of God aims to propel viewers, eyes wide open, into the realm of the mysterious and mind-altering.

Layal Al-Haidari

Colleen Ayoup

Colleen Ayoup was born and raised in Montreal, Quebec and is currently living in Toronto. She has been engaged in media creation for over twenty years. After attending the Dawson Institute of Photography (Montreal), she worked as a commercial photographer for many years until the craving for different creative pursuits became irresistible. This desire led to two subsequent degrees in Psychology/Film Studies and Film Production (BA, BFA) at Concordia University in Montreal. Her short fiction films and documentary, Kings (2001), about drag-king culture in Montreal have toured festivals internationally. In 2004, she joined the National Film Board of Canada where she coordinated Doc Shop, a program designed to give emerging filmmakers an opportunity to learn trade skills from industry professionals and to produce a short documentary for broadcast on the CBC. She also contributed to the creation and development of CitizenShift (citizenshift.org), the NFB's first social-media website that she subsequently coordinated for five years. She writes about her varied media endeavours on her blog at wiredtolearn.ca.

Thesis: Wired to Learn

Is high school education a valuable source of learning? Does it help us reach our full potential as human beings, or to become part of a “;normalized” society? Wired to Learn is a documentary media website, and a site-specific mixed-media installation that addresses these questions and invites the audience to partake in the conversation. While the website invites the audience to follow the production of the installation, it is also a space that is used to share stories about Ayoup's own learning experiences, disseminate audio and video interviews with educators and learners regarding their feelings about education, and aggregate Web sources that offer innovative ideas and opinions about learning and instructing.

The mixed-media art installation which takes place in a high school is a means of infusing Ayoup's audio and video media with nostalgia and sensory experiences which a two-dimensional screen cannot reproduce, in order to heighten the memories and conversational urges about one's own educational experiences. Within the installation, learners and educators from seven schools- from the public, private, and alternative sectors within Montreal and Toronto- share their views about how their institution is, or could be, a success or a failure. They also reflect upon their own behaviours as high school participants. The media within the installation are intended to act as mirrors for the subjects and audience within a high school milieu. Ayoup's hope is that they see and hear one another's opinions, observe their own, and bridge a communication gap that typically exists between learners and educators.

Collen Ayoup

Esther Buckareff

Esther Buckareff is an interactive documentary filmmaker living in Toronto. Raised in a family business in London, Ontario, she combines her affinity for small business with a corporate career in import buying (HBC) and ten years in Web development. She holds a BA in Political Science (University of Western Ontario), Diploma in Digital Media Technologies, Teacher in Adult Training Certificate, and a Certificate in Film Directing (Cuba, EICTV).

Blakout.ca: Voices Silenced by Fear - medium: HD video

Blakout.ca: Voices Silenced by Fear investigates how stories from an oppressed public can affect a democracy if voices that were silenced are facilitated and heard. It explores social justice change through the electoral process by combining film and new media to “simulate a democracy.” The website, Blakout.ca, serves both as a public archive and as a conduit to collect stories from people who have been bullied and unjustly silenced by public servants and authority figures. Select stories are produced into short documentary films and juxtaposed with interviews by field experts. Site visitors can speak out by uploading their own stories, read other people’s stories, or engage with the films. The intent is to demonstrate systemic issues by deconstruct¬ing complex topics into engaging “bite size” audiovisual capsules of information. To demonstrate accountability, films are organized into themes and linked to elected politicians who manage the corresponding government ministry. The viewer can navigate the documentary according to their “trigger,” jumping from film to film and subject to subject, or watch a topic in a linear format.

Blakout.ca: Voices Silenced by Fear will debut on the subject of The Ontario Children’s Aid Society. The website will launch following the film screening.

blakout.ca

Esther Buckareff

Jessica Dymond

Jessica Dymond is a filmmaker and mixed-media artist, as well as a curator for Doc Now and a member of the organizing committee for Amnesty International’s Reel Awareness Film Festival in Toronto. Originally from the west coast, she has spent most of the last 10 years in Montreal, where she completed a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature and International Development Studies at McGill University, and a Graduate Diploma in Communications at Concordia University. Dymond currently resides in Toronto.

Thesis: Skin Deep

Skin Deep explores issues of empowerment, feminine identity, and self-worth in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. Visual representation of the Downtown Eastside and its residents is often problematic, focusing largely on the shock value of the neighbourhood’s most well-known issues: prostitution, drug addiction, HIV and, perhaps most notoriously, the missing women. While these issues certainly deserve attention, the focus tends to be on individuals-at-risk, rather than the area’s demonstrably strong sense of community, particularly within a feminine context. This multi-screen, non-linear documentary project is a re-creation of “Beauty Night,” a drop-in event which provides beauty services to self-identified, including transgendered, women in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. The project includes short video portraits of the women who attend “Beauty Night,” shown through two-way mirrors, as well as projections of the neighbourhood shot on Super 8 film. The goal of the installation, including the mirrored reflections, is to create a sense of self-reflexivity in the audience, and help to physically close the psychological gap in the social hierarchy.

jessicadymond.com

Jessica Dymond

Joel Elliott

Joel Elliott is a writer, filmmaker, and video artist based in Toronto. His written work has included fiction and non-fiction and has appeared online and in the literary magazine Maisonneuve. He is currently exploring the role of fiction and authorial voice in documentary film, with a particular interest in Middle East history, theology, and memory.

Thesis: The Flood and the Mountain

Interweaving fact and fiction, myth and history, travelogue and historical documentary, The Flood and the Mountain traces the journey of an unnamed narrator on a pilgrimage to Mt. Ararat. Following in the path of the late astronaut James Irwin, who led two expeditions in search of the remains of Noah's ark, the narrator inadvertently stumbles across the remains of the often catastrophic history of the surrounding territory, from the iconoclastic period of the Byzantine Empire to the Armenian Genocide of the twentieth century. At the centre of it all lies the highest peak in the region, a mountain imbued with holy status but witness to the violence of countless civilizations.

As the opportunities for climbing Mt. Ararat become more precarious, the distant dream of the ark is replaced by the ever-present disaster of the Armenians and the continual denial of the events in modern Turkey. More than a crash course in the history of Christianity in the Near East, The Flood and the Mountain  is a philosophical inquiry into the often tenuous relationships between mass destruction, faith, and the image. The film is both an indictment of those who transpose their own order onto God and re-write history for political power, as well as a desperate first-person search for the ineffable - a portrait of an outsider lost in time.

Joel Elliott

Drew Ferguson

Drew Ferguson earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Toronto and completed a Masters degree in Sociology and Anthropology at the University of Guelph in 2008.

Since 2000 Ferguson has been involved in several research projects concerning the beekeeping industry. These include investigations into the medicinal aspects of beekeeping, beekeeping folklore or “bee lore,” beekeeping as a form of sustainable livelihood, and a project exploring the role of beekeeping associations in helping to create and reinforce a sense of identity for its members.

In 2008 Ferguson collaborated on the short film Bee Man. In 2010 the film won the A&E Short Filmmaker Award in the National Screen Institute’s Short Film Festival. It has been shown at a number of festivals including the Dawson City International Short Film Festival, Planet in Focus Film Festival in Toronto, Flickerfest Australian International Short Film Festival, San Francisco Green Film Festival, England’s Future Shorts Film Festival, Humanity Explored Short Film Festival in Indonesia, and the Yukon Film Society: Fire Hall Films in Whitehorse.

Thesis: The Last Dance?

This project examines the unique world of honeybees and the impact of declining populations on the environment and the global food supply dependent on them.

Honeybees offer a unique perspective for exploring the numerous ways in which humans interact with, understand, and manage nature. They are a crucial aspect of modern agriculture’s sophisticated management systems, tasked with producing large amounts of honey and pollinating billions of dollars worth of crops each year. Beekeeping therefore provides a basis for exploring broader social and environmental issues through elaboration on the function of apiculture and the increasingly complex social and environmental constraints beekeepers face.

In the gallery, an observation hive allows viewers to safely witness honeybee colony structure and organization. The hive installation is outfitted with audio and video allowing the viewer to hear and see the inner workings of the hive from the bee’s point of view in real time.

 Drew Ferguson

Elisa Gonzalez

Elisa Gonzalez is rooted in the fine arts and has been practicing as a multi-media artist, photographer, and filmmaker since graduating from Emily Carr University of Art & Design in Vancouver. She has worked collaboratively on projects ranging from experimental shorts to interpretive museum videos that have been shown in a variety of venues including Bravo! Television, Mammoth Film Festival, and the Anchorage Museum. Her work addresses questions surrounding the inherent tension between memory and history, exploring the poetic and experimental elements that become crucial points of reference for contemporary documentary form. She lives in Toronto.

Thesis: Miguel’s Battlefield

Miguel’s Battlefield traces the life of the filmmaker’s grandfather, Miguel Gonzalez-Inestal (1901-1995), and his involvement in the Spanish Civil War, exploring the relationship between past and present. After his release from prison as a young man—a result of anti-government demonstration—he became involved in the anarchist organization CNT (Confederacion Nacional del Trabajo) as a union leader and military commissary fighting for the Republicans. By using archival footage, contemporary imagery, and reenactment, “traces” of his experiences and the personal consequences of his ideology are interpreted through a poetic form functioning within the boundaries of metaphor and meaning, history and memory.

vimeo.com/elisagonzalez

 

Eliza Gonzalez

Barbara Greczny

Barbara Greczny was born in Uranium City, Saskatchewan, which today is one of the largest modern ghost towns in Canada. She moved to Toronto with her mother when she five years old and has never left.

Greczny is classically trained in portrait photography and graduated from the Ontario College of Art and Design University with a BFA in Integrated Media. At graduation she won the William F. White prize for film or video and the Ross Fletcher film award.

Barbara Greczny  was a core member of Symbiosis (1992-1997), a multi-disciplinary artist collective committed to the integration of various art disciplines within the context of site-specific non-traditional exhibition spaces.

Recently her video and photography work have been exhibited during Scotiabank's Nuit Blanche and her photo-video piece Soul Trip 999 (Nuit Blanche, 2008) was highlighted on the New York online magazine Sensitive Skin.

Thesis: The Wall Unit

The Wall Unit is a mixed-media, multi-layered installation project inspired by Greczny's mother's death in 2006. The project explores the process of memory in relation to dementia as well as the complexities of the mother-daughter relationship. Challenging notions of public and private, The Wall Unit is an intimate portrayal of this difficult life experience. The use of the actual wall unit that belonged to her mother is the focal point of the installation. With the wall unit isolated off-centre, in a large empty gallery space, the physical viewing environment has the sensation of a strange remoteness surrounding its core, much like the feelings of loneliness dementia patients experience. The wall unit is metaphorically the keeper of memories and the witness to her mother's demise.

The use of the actual object and not a replica brings another layer of meaning into the installation, representing Greczny's personal experience with her mother's illness and denial of her condition. By incorporating other people's experiences with dementia through video and audio interviews displayed on monitors nestled in the wall unit and on its shelves, the problems associated with the disease are more broadly explored. The wall unit, designed to hold various small objects and mementos, becomes a symbol of the fragility of memory and the fractured or fragmented memory of a person who has dementia.

www.barbaragreczny.com

Barbara Greczny

Tanja Grinberg

Tanja Grinberg is a screenwriter, film director, and film editor. Born in the former Soviet Union in 1982, she emmigrated to Germany at the age of 11. After finishing high school she chose to turn her passion for story-telling into a career and earned a double degree in Media Production from Hochschule Darmstadt University of Applied Sciences in Germany and in Media Communications from Cork Institute of Technology in Ireland. Before coming to Canada to pursue her MFA in Documentary Media, she worked on a number of fictional and documentary films, animations, and TV series. Her short film Permanent Transient was screened at the Image Festival in 2010. She currently lives in Germany and Canada.

Thesis: The Portrait of David

Grinberg’s father was an engineer, an actor, a bakery cleaner, and a documentarian. In the summer of 1986, after her grandfather passed away prompting her father to begin a family tradition, he sat down and wrote a memoir of his father. On the bottom of the cover page it is written: “to be continued by my children.” In the summer of 2009 Grinberg’s father died, leaving her with the responsibility of preserving a memory of him that could be passed on to the next generation.

The Portrait of David is a first-person documentary that shows the effort of creating a visual memoir of a loved one. The film captures the challenges of collecting material, selecting memories, and struggling to find the courage to be honest.

Tanja Grinberg

Dafydd Hughes

Dafydd Hughes is a musician, artist, programmer, and educator based in Toronto. He has performed and recorded with some of Canada’s most notable artists, including Feist, Esthero, and Jacksoul. He is active in Canada’s jazz, pop and experimental music scenes through solo work and various collaborations. His work, both musical and visual, playfully explores the often-unpredictable intersection of analog and digital experiences of the world.

Dafydd is a member of faculty at Sheridan College.

He is also a member of the board of directors at Toronto’s InterAccess Electronic Media Arts Centre where he teaches workshops and spends time exploring the interface between technology and the creative impulse, which generally involves taking things apart and finding himself unable to put them back together.

Thesis: Every Face in The Americans: Faces from photographs by Robert Frank, selected by iPhoto

As the amount of information we contend with multiplies daily, we rely increasingly on technology to help us keep up. The tools we use are often uncannily effective: For instance, Apple’s iPhoto, which (for the purpose of later helping us sort our photos) silently and without our instruction applies a face detection routine to every photograph added to its library. On our behalf, the software takes on some of the “heavy lifting” involved in understanding an ever-expanding world.

Every Face in The Americans is the result of this procedure, as performed on scans of the 1977 edition of Robert Frank’s seminal book The Americans. In capturing faces (or in some cases, what it thinks are faces), iPhoto intervenes in our reading process, assuming some of the responsibilities we traditionally assume ourselves. The result is a set of 58 low-quality, heavily cropped images, selected, framed, and sequenced according to the software’s algorithms. In some cases, we see the actual “Americans,” but reduced, removed from their context. In others, iPhoto’s skill at recognizing a pattern of shapes and contrasts—a syntactic recognition—is subverted by its lack of semantic ability; where it sees a face, we see nothing.

Despite their separation from their contexts, the images retain a connection to the photographs from which they are drawn. They invite us to look through them to the original work, focusing on the periphery, considering what has been left out, and reconsidering the processes of selection, framing, sequencing, and seeing.

Dafydd Hughes

Scott Humphries

Scott Humphries is a Toronto-based sound recordist, educator, documentary director, and future farmer. Humphries earned his BA in Media Screen Practice at the University of Paisley in Scotland. During his time abroad, he produced and directed AyrSpace, a student-run Web television station that was the first of its kind in the United Kingdom. His current documentary work looks at contemporary rural issues in Canada, with a focus on farm succession and rural homelessness.

Thesis: Humphries Road

Humphries Road is a personal journey that examines contemporary agricultural practices in Eastern Ontario and the future of small-scale farming in that region. This small county road, named after the filmmaker’s family for their long history in the area, is a microcosm of agricultural trends that are widespread across Canada.

Through conversations with former rural youth from Humphries Road, the film explores their opinions around land development, local organic farming, and the potential of succeeding their family farms.

Filmed over four seasons, Humphries Road examines the barriers of farm succession and ultimately the director’s own future in agriculture that manifests itself in the question: If the youth of Canada do not want to succeed their family farms, what are we supposed to eat?

Scott Humphries

Paula John

Paula John is a multi-disciplinary artist and scholar based in Toronto. She has been exhibiting her work (including photography, film, painting, printmaking, textiles, installation, and performance) since 2003. John holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the Ryerson University School of Image Arts Photography program. Some of the themes explored in her previous work include, gender, sexuality, feminism, and performance.

Thesis: Out of the Darkness

Out of the Darkness is a collection of autobiographical projects exploring the experience of mental illness. Through the production of several projects John had the opportunity to examine and come to terms with the breakdown she suffered at age 15 and her subsequent diagnosis with severe clinical depression. Themes such as lost memory, stigma, catharsis, destruction, and family relationships are investigated from a feminist perspective. The culmination of these projects is a mixed-media gallery installation.

Out of the Darkness makes a strong case for the healing potential of making art. In its open exploration of mental illness, this project allowed John to reclaim a sense of agency and dignity countering the continued social stigma associated with mental illness. The installation also aims to challenge the viewer’s notion of what constitutes a documentary by presenting decidedly avant-garde documentary forms.

paula-john.ca

Paula John

Ben Lenzner

 

Ben Lenzner is a photographer, filmmaker, storyteller, and educator. Born and raised in New York City, he taught for many years at the International Center of Photography and worked as an artist in residence within the New York City public school system. He has exhibited and published his work globally, including at Toronto’s Nuit Blanche. His images have been acquired for the permanent collection at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum in New York. In 2005, he was a recipient of the AIF Clinton Fellowship for Service in India. He is equally at home bicycling through the island of Manhattan or roaming the bustling streets of New Delhi. His work strives to share stories about the diversity of our world, while offering inspiring visions of the imaginative reality of the lives we live. He is based in Toronto and New York.

Thesis: This Is Just Batting Practice , A Tale About G.I. Joes, Tomato Boxes, Rivers & Reincarnation

This is Just Batting Practice: A Tale About G.I. Joes, Tomato Boxes, Rivers & Reincarnation is a film inspired by a cache of 8 mm family films that were hidden away in dusty old tomato boxes in a far off corner of Brooklyn. Spanning six decades and five countries, while fusing 8 mm, VHS and digital video, This is Just Batting Practice explores moments of memory found in home movies. Integrating interviews, found footage, and recorded sounds, while straddling the past, present and future, This is Just Batting Practice drifts through time, rushing fast from the source of the river, navigating tributaries, and finally meandering to the sea, through wide and fertile delta soil.

benlenzner.com

Ben Lenzner

Eduardo Lima de Oliveira

 

Eduardo Lima was born and raised in Porto Alegre, Brazil. He graduated with a BA in journalism from the Brazilian Lutheran University and has worked as a reporter and photojournalist covering sports, political events, and crime for major Brazilian newspapers. His first foray into documentary work was while he was living in Southeast Asia where he produced a story on Burmese refugees living in Malaysia. As a documentary artist his work is marked by a preoccupation with the lives of those who choose to live in a new country, leaving everything behind. His experiences living overseas in Asia and Europe have cultivated his interest in issues related to migration.

Thesis: Next-door Neighbour

Next-door Neighbour examines the reasons that brought seven immigrants to Canada and their impressions about the country they now call home. Every year approximately 250,000 newcomers arrive in Canada. Between 2001 and 2006, Canada received 1,109,980 new immigrants. Toronto alone welcomed about one quarter of them (267,855) during this period, enhancing the Ontario capital’s status as one of the most culturally diverse cities in the world. But what did they think when they first arrived? How difficult was it to start over again? Did they have second thoughts? By interviewing people who came from countries such as Lebanon, Burma, and the Congo this project aims to explore these questions and also to understand the reason behind the subjects’ life-changing decisions.

As an immigrant himself, Lima conceived Next-door Neighbour as a personal exploration, to understand more about this country and to find parallels between his experience and that of his subjects. The exhibition presents photographs with accompanying voice recordings conveying the identities of the subjects, their stories, and the emotional aspects of their life in Canada. Both mediums present the viewer with different perspectives about that new life.

eduardolima.ca

Eduardo Lima

Christopher Manson

Christopher Manson is a British photographer and documentary maker living in Toronto. His work has been published in a number of publications including: The Observer on Sunday, The Daily Mail, The Express, and Time Out Magazine. The recipient of a Magnum Photos Scholarship (2010) and two consecutive Ryerson Graduate Awards (2009, 2010), his work has been exhibited in group shows at the American University Museum, (Washington, DC) the CONTACT Photography Festival (Toronto), and Nuit Blanche (Toronto).

Thesis: Type 1 Teen

Type 1 Teen is a photo-based documentary project illustrating the life—the ups and downs—of Heather Choi, a seventeen-year-old girl living with type 1 diabetes in Toronto.

As the birthplace of insulin, Toronto symbolizes both the optimistic side of diabetes and also the reality of its continued presence in the world. Today, more than 2.4 million Canadians have some form of diabetes, and over 240,000 live with type 1.

Formerly known as insulin-dependent or childhood-onset diabetes, type 1 diabetes is a lifelong disease that cannot be prevented. Its sufferers are usually diagnosed before the age of 30, most often, like Choi, during childhood or their teen years.

With irregular daytime schedules, variable diets, exposure to alcohol, and inconsistent sleeping patterns, teenagers with diabetes must remember that neglecting to successfully manage their self-administered treatment can cause serious complications and even death. This is the extreme side of the illness. Through hard work and vigilance, patients can maintain control of their blood sugar and experience long periods of good health.

Through a combination of text and imagery, the book Type 1 Teen follows Choi over the period of one year as she contemplates the next stage in her young life: university, and a transition from adolescent to adult diabetes care.

christophermanson.com

Christopher Manson

Serena McCarroll

Serena McCarroll received her BFA degree from the Emily Carr University of Art & Design in 2002. Her work has been exhibited in such galleries as the York Quay Gallery (Toronto), the Art Gallery of Southwestern Manitoba, Paved Arts (Saskatoon), The Nickle Arts Museum (Calgary) and TCB Gallery (Melbourne). In 2007 she co-founded a tiny art-shop and music venue in rural Saskatchewan—with fellow artist Tyler Brett—called All Citizens. The project has been featured on CBC Radio One’s As It Happens and Radio 3’s Grant Lawrence Live. In the winter of 2009-10 McCarroll and Brett served as Broken Pencil magazine’s online “Indie Artist in Residence.”

Thesis: Three Women

The documentary project Three Women centres on the creative lives of three women McCarroll came to know while living in the farming community of Bruno, Saskatchewan (population 600). All three grew up in rural Saskatchewan and each succeeded in creating a unique path in a place and at a time of limited options. For each woman the surrounding landscape is intrinsic to her existence. Bernadette Greuel writes and recites poetry inspired by her role as a mother and farmer’s wife. Susanna Bauer makes art from whatever she finds around her—whether it is pine cones, seeds, bark, feathers, or road kill. Sister Maureen Maier worked tirelessly to save the environment that she felt saved her, the convent where she became a nun at age 18, and continues to help preserve the history of her prairie sisterhood. These three women are strongly defined by rural life. What gives them their voice also nearly renders them invisible in its vastness; they are restricted by it while simultaneously inspired by it. Rather than allow themselves to be devoured by isolation and tradition, they’ve used resourcefulness and determination to surpass expectation. Until now their audience has been small. This project aims to expand it.

serenamccarroll.com

 

Serena McCarroll

Elizabeth Moore

Elizabeth Moore is a filmmaker and anti-racist activist based in Toronto. Before pursuing her MFA, Moore worked as a researcher, story editor, and associate producer on television and film projects dealing with subjects ranging from gardening to gang violence. As an anti-racist activist, Moore has worked closely with the Canadian Jewish Congress and has spoken to school children and community groups across the country. Her passion for equality and justice and her strong belief in the maxim “the personal is political” are major influences of her creative work.

Thesis: In God’s Keeping

In God’s Keeping is a personal documentary about Moore’s spiritual journey towards Judaism. Conversion to Judaism is neither easy nor straightforward. It requires one-to-three years of study. Converts must navigate thousands of years of patriarchal tradition and accept the nightmare of anti-Semitism as their own. Through a series of conversations and interviews, In God’s Keeping looks at different aspects of Moore’s life as she reviews where her quest for a relationship with God began, how she veered off course, and why she is hesitant about becoming Jewish despite being drawn to Judaism. In God’s Keeping documents one woman’s journey towards Judaism, but it adds a voice to the growing number of autobiographical films and books about conversion. Traditionally not talked about, converts to Judaism now often refer to themselves as “Jews-by-choice” and are eager to share their stories and experiences of love for tradition and ritual and acceptance in a community that, throughout history, has turned prospective converts away three times in order to ensure their sincerity.

Elizabeth Moore

Julie Pasila

Julie Pasila is a practicing visual artist and filmmaker who lives and works in Toronto. She holds a Bachelor of Arts, Honours, in Studio Art and English from the University of Guelph and has exhibited her work in a number of festivals, including the CONTACT International Photography Festival and Nuit Blanche. She is one of the curators of the 2011 DOC NOW festival.

Thesis: Art Works

Art Works explores the transformative, regenerative, and healing power of the arts through a look at the practices of three Toronto artists: Annalise, Melissa, and Miles. The lives of these artists intersect through their use of Workman Arts, a not-for-profit professional arts company working in partnership with Toronto’s Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. Each artist uses the facilities to explore different methods of creation, developing, or in some instances reconnecting with, various facets of their practices: Annalise and Melissa through visual arts, and Miles through theatre. The artists discuss the therapeutic qualities of their chosen media, meditating on ideas of art and healing.

juliepasila.com

Julie Pasila

Laura J. Turnbull

Laura J. Turnbull’s enriching undergraduate experience at Mount Allison University in Sackville, New Brunswick, has given her a strong theoretical base and encouraged her to investigate alternative approaches to traditional scholarship. Having worked for various festivals and arts organizations in New Brunswick, she has been able to foster physical and sensory experiences of history and culture. Further study in Yemen has led her to engage with Muslim societies and cultures. She has had short documentaries screened at Toronto’s Nuit Blanche and Take a Walk on the Riverside festivals, as well as the Natural History Museum in Oldenburg, Germany. Finding Barakah is her first new-media installation.

 Thesis: Finding Barakah -An Auto-Ethnographic Sensory Remembrance of a Year in Yemen -

Weaving through personal antidotes and self-reflection, this project is about Turnbull as a student and how she navigated, and understood, living in Yemen for a year. As a student of anthropology, political science, and Arabic, the experience, like this documentary installation, directly engages with the value of auto-ethnography and its place in academic scholarship. Finding Barakah addresses issues of otherness, the gaze, and the politics of place and space, along with a personal and bitter-sweet sensory experience of living in the Republic of Yemen.

Finding Barakah is situated in the mafraj, an area in the Yemeni home often used for entertaining guests and watching television. Alluding to, rather than reconstructing, an actual Yemeni space, the project includes objects brought back from Yemen. Engaging with sensory memory, the installation evokes taste, touch, and smell, sight and hearing to create and recreate experiences as it straddles the binaries of here and there, them and us.

Laura J. Turnbull

Garett Walker

Garett Walker is an artist and photographer. Having earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts in Photography from Ryerson University, he has travelled extensively across Canada, using his camera to document the country’s varied regional cultural heritage. He is a recipient of many private and public artistic development grants, which help to fund his work. Walker is an active participant in the Toronto arts community and his work is collected by various private collectors and public institutions in Canada. Walker lives and works in Toronto.

 Thesis:  Toronto Souvenir

This project explores photography’s role in memory and history. It is about revisiting sites of memory In Toronto containing little or no visible traces of their public and private significance. Using the public library and archives, and consulting regional historical societies, Walker collected stories warranting inclusion and perpetuation in the community’s living memory. The sites and stories range from early aviation history and Hurricane Hazel to the marginalized history of women’s efforts in World War II and the neglected cemetery site of an early Toronto psychiatric hospital. By photographing these sites and re-presenting them with their hidden histories, this project intends to provoke dialogue about the intangible place of memories and their relationship to photographs and documentary studies. Using the postcard as a vehicle furthers this project’s intent to be distributed and absorbed into the personal archives of the audience. The souvenir postcards reproduced from the photographs are intended to activate the possessor’s faculty of memory along with personal and collective narratives at a later point in the ritual of remembering and story-telling. Toronto Souvenir encourages a deeper exploration of place, beyond the visible landscape into the living memories of people and their landscapes of memory.

garett-walker.com

Garett Walker

Lulu Wei

Lulu Wei is a Toronto-based emerging artist and filmmaker producing video, photography, and installation-based work. Wei holds a BA from the University of Western Ontario, graduating with a double major in Political Science and Visual Art. Her photography has appeared in publications such as In Toronto Magazine and HK Magazine. During 2010 her short films Meatsmoothies and The Bluffs were screened in group exhibitions at Images Festival and Nuit Blanche, respectively. Wei is developing her portfolio as a freelance videographer and photographer. She is also a dedicated four-season cyclist.

Thesis: Spoke

Spoke examines cycling as a viable form of transportation while addressing the infrastructure enhancements needed to improve Toronto’s quality of life. By addressing the difficulties faced by the cycling community, through first-person accounts and chronicles of the city’s cycling infrastructure, Spoke identifies the need for citizen involvement in municipal politics. Juxtaposing the different perspectives of city representatives, cycling advocates, and committed drivers, the film facilitates candid dialogue between these separate communities.

Spoke promotes change and raises awareness by presenting contentious issues. The film’s accompanying installation communicates the vulnerability and experience of the urban cyclist by providing a simulated first-person perspective. Spoke asks the viewer: Is it possible to change an entire city’s attitude toward transportation?

Lulu Wei

Maja Zonjic

Maja Zonjic is a documentary photographer and filmmaker currently practicing in Toronto. Having emigrated from Croatia in 1999, her artistic concerns are largely influenced by her background. These predominantly focus on the impact of globalization on marine-based economies and the contemporary representation of war and atrocity. The aim of her work is to explore the interwoven layers of life, while recognizing the social, economic, and political undercurrents that have created them, in an effort to effect social change. Zonjic has exhibited and published her works in several Toronto venues and has been short-listed twice in the National Geographic Photo Contest.

Thesis:  Postcards from Utila

Postcards from Utila is a series of photographs and postcards from the island of Utila, located off the northern Honduran coast. As the main contributor to the Utilan economy, tourism is important to the livelihood of the local population. Many efforts are being made by the Honduran government to promote Utila and the Bay Islands as top tourist destinations through the use of images representing idealized notions of beauty, without much regard for the potential negative social and environmental after-effects of the industry.

Less than 500m from Main Street lies barrio Camponado—the poorest part of Utila—an area that has been sold to Hispanic migrants from the mainland as low-income property. This is where large quantities of drugs are sold, literacy rates are the lowest, and a considerable amount of crime occurs. Yet nowhere in the plentiful tourist guidebooks or colourful Utilan postcards is Camponado mentioned or commemorated. Similarly, problems such as over-fishing, drinking water shortages, racially-motivated caste systems, mangrove and coral reef devastation, and the illegal killing of endangered animals (including the Swamper iguana and several shark species) are also kept from such literature, despite the role of tourism in exacerbating them.

Zonjic’s project urges the audience to recognize the ways in which framing dictates our perceptions and negates different types of realities excluded in the process.

https://vimeo.com/58316237

Maja Zonjic
 

 

 

 

 

 
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
 
   
   
Class 2010

Manuela Büechting

Allie Caldwell

William Craddock

Katie Doner

Hilary Dean

Paul Eekhoff

Tara Ernst

Sue Johnson

Tanja Grinberg

Sue Johnson

Ruth Kaplan

Jules Arita Koostachin

Melanie Loiselle

Eduardo Lima de Oliveira

Blanca Lopez

 

 

Marc Losier

Kathleen Mackey

Rick Miller

Suzanne Murdoch

Mark Neufeld

Erin Riley

Renée Rodenkirchen

Sarah Sharkey Pearce

Cynthia Shulak

Kate Tarini

Jeff Winch

Peter (Zak) Zakrzewski


Manuela Büechting

Manuela Büechting was born in Erfurt, Germany. From 2002 - 2008 she studied Fine Arts at the University of Art in Braunschweig, Germany, and at the Villa Arson in Nice, France.

Thesis:  No Place. Nowhere

My work takes a position in-between; I'm an astronaut encountering the world from above, an archaeologist digging into the earth, a wanderer in time and space. I'm drawing, writing, filming, photographing, collecting and connecting things together in the way that I see and don't see the world. The viewer must listen closely, become encompassed by the work that offers a view about life and experience which is fluid and uncertain.

Manuela Büechting

Allie Caldwell

Allie Caldwell is a documentary filmmaker from Lakefield, Ontario. With a love of intimate storytelling and offbeat humour, her work investigates issues of relationships, rural life, and nostalgia. Her films have been screened in Montreal, Toronto, and New York as well as on CBC Television and on the NFB’s Citizen/Shift website. Caldwell holds a BA in Communications Studies from Concordia University and is currently living and working in Toronto.

Thesis: Unfriend

There's something happening to language as a result of social media like Facebook. The word “friend” isn’t just a noun anymore. It’s also a verb. You can be friends with someone, and you can friend someone. You can also unfriend someone. This is a totally new term, a verb for the action of breaking off a friendship, and it was the Oxford dictionary’s top addition to the lexicon in 2009. Unfriend is a radio documentary exploring the sometimes painful, shameful, and (let’s face it) often funny world of friendship breakups, be they digital or otherwise. Using interviews, found sound, and narration, Unfriend will resonate with anyone who’s ever had a friend.

www.unfriending.wordpress.com

Allie Caldwell

William Craddock

Following his upbringing in Woodstock, Ontario, William Craddock attended Huron University College, at the University of Western Ontario, where he completed a BA in Political Science and Global Studies. As a Toronto-based self-taught photographer and emerging artist Craddock is excited to premier his first film, which incorporates his studies of politics. Craddock’s work utilizes critical, political and social commentary aspiring to engage his viewers with contemporary issues in new ways.

Thesis: Gay Rights: Politics, Activism and Canada's Gay Conservatives

The identity of the gay Conservative party supporter is one often seen by many Canadians as hypocritical and contradictory, a seemingly rational judgment given the popular association of the political right with more traditional, often religious, views towards sexuality. For gay Conservatives, though, this is a sweeping misconception: Many consider their right-wing political views as completely and naturally congruent with their sexual identities. For the devoted left, these gays are traitors to the historical ties of Gay Liberation to the political left. Through interviews with a range of gay Conservatives complemented by an examination of archival images and media representations, this film seeks to inform viewers of the complex range of issues surrounding the growing population of gay right-wingers and their roles within the larger contexts of the queer activist movement and contemporary mainstream politics.

William Craddock

Hilary Dean

Hilary Dean is from Richmond Hill, Ontario and currently resides in Toronto’s Cabbagetown. She has a BFA in Film Studies from Ryerson University, and was the recipient of the Norman Jewison filmmaker award and the Natalie McDonald memorial award. Dean teaches a film course titled, “Re-framing Disability,” and recently received a grant from the Reva Gerstein Legacy Fund for her current project exploring mental illness and recovery.  She is the mother of a five-year-old Jedi knight, and has been writing the same novel for 10 years.

Thesis: So You’re Going Crazy…

Having suffered from mental illness, I know how terrifying, bewildering, and isolating the experience can be. Even after years of recovery, I continue my attempts to somehow process it. Because the subject is frightening to people, and carries with it a deeply entrenched cultural stigma, few people want to talk about “going crazy.”

In my experience, talking to others who have been through similar trauma was what helped me the most. Their stories gave me hope and a sense of connection at a time when I felt very much alone. I tried to make my film in the spirit of support and collaboration, and was extremely lucky to have met such amazing, lovely people who were willing to speak openly about their experiences. I hope that this film will provide an understanding of the internal experience of mental illness, and offer some new insights for anyone who relates to it directly. 

Hilary Dean

Katie Doner

Katie Doner relocated to Toronto after graduating with a BA in Intercultural Studies and Art from Houghton College in 2008, where her work was exhibited and awarded prizes.  As an emerging documentary artist, her photography is marked by a preoccupation with the human face, an interest sparked by engaging in diverse communities—from urban Buffalo, to Kampala, Uganda, to her own hometown of Beaverton, Ontario.  Shaping her photography is a concern with the photographer-subject relationship during the photographic exchange.

Thesis: A Fragile Exchange

My photography is rooted in a fascination with the human face.  We present ourselves with our faces; we judge others based on their faces.  A face can tell a colossal lie or a potent truth.  The tenuous power of the visage is both captivating and deceptive. Through a series of portraits accompanied by audio excerpts of the subjects’ reflections on their own faces, A Fragile Exchange uncovers the dynamic nature of the face-to-face encounter and the fragility of first impressions.

As our societal boundaries for looking remain unclear, we function in two self-opposed extremes: consuming images of the face in commercial culture, meanwhile averting our eyes from strangers’ faces in our daily routines. Creating a meditation on the act of looking, this project encourages an engaged way of seeing as viewers look, listen, learn, and look again. Approaching a life through the face reveals both its self-contained power and the risk inherent in assigning it too much authority.  Although a face cannot represent a life, it can be a wonderful place from which to begin an acquaintance.

A Fragile Exchange allows me to present a series of engaged likenesses, while inviting my subjects to share their perspectives from the other side of the portrait.

Katie Doner

Paul Eekhoff

After 22 years working as a commercial photographer based in Toronto—the latter part of his career as a photographic educator—Paul Eekhoff returned to Ryerson University to pursue post-graduate studies in Documentary Media. A previous graduate of Ryerson University, Eekhoff now hopes to direct his attention towards personal artistic projects and teaching.

Thesis: Between Desire

Suburbia and sustainability: two loaded words that, when placed in the same sentence, forge an uncomfortable and antagonistic relationship. Visions of waste, environmental appropriation, homogeneity, and sprawl come to mind.

Between Desire is a photography project examining the space between our needs and desires while situating sustainability at the crossroads of these two paradigms. My photographs point towards the constant outward push of suburban expansion and the inevitable collision of the human-made and natural landscapes. I have asked myself this one question. Does this push exceed the limits of the environment’s natural and self-sustaining entropic flows?

The project examines a desire to return to Arcadia, albeit an increasingly unattainable dreamscape. The tragedy is, the further we push and disrupt, the very Arcadia we long for moves farther toward the horizon. The photographs point towards two possibilities: one of sustainability and the other, of a desired return to a mythical and pastoral ideal.

www.betweendesire.wordpress.com

Paul Eekhoff

Tara Ernst

Tara Ernst is a Winnipeg born filmmaker and multi-media artist, currently completing her Master’s Degree in Fine Arts at Ryerson University. Ernst holds a joint undergraduate degree from Concordia University in Film Production and Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design in Intermedia. Focusing her research primarily in cinema and media studies, Ernst’s work explores the complex nature of memory, history and nostalgia, examining the problematic manner in which dominant cultural institutions govern the way in which we recall our personal and cultural past.

Thesis: Nostalgia for an Unknown Land

In the performance installation Nostalgia for an Unknown Land we have chosen to use the metaphorical meaning of the boat to explore the duality of nostalgia as both a desire to escape from and a yearning to return to one’s perceived idea of home.

Caught on an irreconcilable ocean of longing, we attempt a re-enactment, to find or lose ourselves in each other’s respective countries: Germany and Canada. Through personal reflections and childhood memories, Nostalgia for an Unknown Land offers a mythical journey that explores the irreconcilability of nostalgia and its complex relationship to our utopian dreams of a better place, be it past or future, somewhere we’ve been or some place we long to go. 

 

Tara Ernst

Sue Johnson

Sue Johnson began making films while earning her BA in English Literature at Mount Allison University in Sackville, New Brunswick.  Besides working collaboratively on projects ranging from experimental shorts to music videos and documentaries, she has spent time behind the microphone as a radio host and freelance journalist.   She has screened her work at various venues and festivals including the Atlantic Film Festival, Eastern Edge Gallery in St. John’s Newfoundland, and the Centre for Art Tapes in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Thesis: Eternity Rolls

Eternity Rolls is a character-driven documentary about the Reverend Dorian Baxter (also known as “Elvis Priestly”) and the faithful congregation of his Elvis-themed Independent Anglican Church, Christ the King, Graceland.   Shot in an observational style, Eternity Rolls follows Baxter from his home in Newmarket, Ontario to the gates of Graceland in Memphis, Tennessee.  Besides telling the personal story of Baxter’s struggles to realize his own church, Eternity Rolls also examines our cultural obsession with Elvis Presley, the quest for the sacred in everyday life, and how performance and celebrity affect the sanctity and tradition of religion.   

Sue Johnson

Ruth Kaplan

Ruth Kaplan is a documentary-based photographer whose work explores a variety of themes such as bathers in hot springs and participants in rituals of spirituality. Drawn toward the theatre of social behaviour expressed through physicality, her work describes intimacy within a public sphere. Kaplan has received numerous Canada Council, Ontario Arts Council, and Toronto Arts Council grants, and National Magazine Awards. Kaplan has exhibited widely. Currently a photography instructor in Toronto, she is represented by the Stephen Bulger Gallery.

Thesis: Some Kind of Divine

My thesis, Some Kind of Divine, is an exploration of the nature of religious faith. Photographing parishioners in a variety of local churches, I’ve attempted to document the pose of believers through the physical expression of spiritual passion. As a way of addressing issues surrounding exoticism through the display of large-scale black and white prints, I have shot a series of low-resolution video interviews with a wide range of participants expressing views on the nature of God. These views range from atheist to deeply religious, with expressions of doubt and confusion in between. Juxtaposed against traditional photographic presentation, the two media together challenge the language of documentary image making and its implied authenticity.

www.ruthkaplanphoto.com

Ruth Kaplan

Jules Arita Koostachin

Jules Arita Koostachin was born in Moose Factory, Ontario and raised by her Cree speaking grandparents for most of her childhood in Moosonee.  Koostachin is Cree from Attawapiskat First Nations, Mushkegowuk Territory in northern Ontario, and graduated from Concordia University in Montreal with a Bachelors of Fine Arts, Theatre Major.   She is currently living in Toronto with her family.

Thesis: Remembering Inninimowin:  The Cree Language, The Language of the Human Beings

Inninimowin is spoken in several Native communities across Canada.  Although it is considered one of the most preserved Native languages; it is also at risk of disappearing.  The language is the vehicle for carrying forth our traditional knowledge, customary laws, identity, spirituality, as well as the arts. Inninimowin holds the sacred stories, ceremonial practices and ancient teaching of the land and the Inninuwak.  

In a direct act of cultural genocide against Native peoples, the Canadian government, with the aid of the church are responsible for violently imposing the Indian Act, Reserve and Residential School systems on Native peoples leaving a detrimental impact on our communities, shattering our identities and way of life.   As a peoples, we did not let our language and culture lapse, we were severed from them and we are now in the process of remembering and putting the pieces of our culture back together.

Consequently, in both rural and urban Native communities, fewer people are using Inninimowin, which poses major challenges for the future of the Inninuwak nationwide. Yet with growing and changing perspectives towards how to preserve the truth of our identities come new ideas and approaches.  Self-representation and regaining control over our misrepresented images in the mass media can result in positive change by breaking down racial barriers and facing stereotypes dead on. Using the medium of documentary film, I have explored the Inninuwak experience of sustaining Inninuwon from inside the communities, from an Inninu perspective. This film seeks to mend the gaps in understanding between generations by exposing the harsh treatment of Native peoples and moving towards reconciliation and healing.

Jules Arita Koostachin

Melanie Loiselle

Melanie Loiselle was born in Montreal, Quebec. She grew up on the Rive-Sud in the municipality of Mount-Saint-Hilaire where she experienced rural life. After receiving her CEGEP Diplôme d'études collégiales in Creative Arts, Loiselle moved to Toronto in August of 1999 to pursue her studies. She holds a BFA in Photographic Studies from Ryerson University.

Thesis: The Canadian: A train ride across Canada (almost) and back again in May 2009

The Canadian explores the myth of the railroad through my experience of taking the train (almost) across Canada for the first time. My installation is a meditation on the notion of nostalgia, explored through this romanticized and perceived as old-fashioned method of transport and the landscape it travels through. The work seeks to enable the viewer to relish in the experience of lingering, savoring, and absorbing each stage of the journey, from the initial desire to travel, through to the journey itself.

Photography and train travel, both invented in the first half of the nineteenth century, enabled a new way of seeing and experiencing the world. Introducing unparalleled speed, the train condensed space by shortening the time it took to cover the distance between two points. The romantic notion of travel by train to “far off” lands was fuelled by the picturesque images that the photographer produced and brought into the home, developing a notion that still exists today.

Through the ability to see and travel, and explore new terrains, the train and photography led to the growth of tourism, facilitating industrial development and urban expansion.  With its role in linking Canada from shore to shore, the train has played a symbolic role in the evolution of Canada’s identity as a nation.

www.melanie-loiselle.ca

Melanie loiselle

Blanca Lopez

Blanca Marcela Lopez was born and raised in Bucaramanga, Colombia and moved to Canada in 2006 to pursue documentary filmmaking.  She holds a degree in Communication and Journalism from Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana in Bucaramanga, Colombia.  She worked in her home country as a journalist, researcher and video editor for several years.

Thesis:  Mea Culpa

Mea Culpa is a documentary film that explores the stories of people who have left the Catholic Church but who have never really been able to let the Church leave them.

Growing up in Colombia, where the dominant religion is Catholicism, I was strongly affected by the Church. Although I have left the Church, I still find Catholicism to be a major influence in my life. After speaking with other former Catholics it became apparent that others, like me, still have odd ties to Catholicism, such as strong feelings of guilt about everything from food to sex to not calling their mothers.

Although the film is set in Toronto, Canada, it provides insight into the experiences of people from many different cultures and backgrounds, allowing viewers to gain insight into the cross-cultural influence of the Catholic Church.

Blanca Lopez

Marc Losier

Marc Losier is a practicing artist, writer and researcher from Toronto.  Before beginning his MFA, he worked as a journalist and photographer in Montréal. His work addresses the representation of bodies, aesthetics, race, and cultural histories through various media and installations.  He is also the creator of the blog Defending Champions (www.defendingchampions.blogspot.com), a forum devoted to the critical analysis of media, sport, and performance.

Thesis: Defending Champions: The African-American Athletic Legacy and the Anthropometric Playing Field

Defending Champions examines the role of photography at the beginning of the twentieth century in the development and representation of African-American athletes. Postbellum

United States was a time of physical and ideological struggle between two Americas.

While racism in White America inhibited change, Black America fought for equal footing in the country. One of the battlefields for equality was within the culture of athletics and organized sports. Escalating media coverage of sporting events provided an important and powerful means to assert control over the representation of African Americans and particularly Black masculinity at this time.  One example is the racial upheaval created by heavyweight boxing champion Jack Johnson’s defeat of White opponent Jim Jeffries in 1910.  Using historical photography and archival media, this installation challenges the racist vernacular commonly attributed to African-American athletic greatness by uncovering its origins in early race science and photography.  Defending Champions deconstructs race science’s repressive tropes through the use of cyanotype images that detail the history of scientific analysis and dehumanization of the Black body.  In contrast to these mainstream images are honorific re-representations of Black athletes using platinum photography.  Both mediums provide counterpoints to the ways in which race science, not to mention the mainstream American press, unjustly framed African-American athletes in the years leading into the American Civil Rights era.

Marc Losier

Kathleen Mackey

Kathleen Mackey grew up on a farm in Oshawa, Ontario and has been interested in film and media since first picking up her mother’s video camera. She completed her BFA in Film Studies at Ryerson University where her interest in producing and documentary filmmaking grew. She has hosted a radio show on spiritlive.net and works as a freelance videographer and production coordinator in Toronto.  Mackey hopes to continue making documentaries focused on personal and local stories.

Thesis:The Death of My Family Farm

My thesis film focuses on the death of my family’s farm which had been in my family for six generations.  Its sale in 2009 was a landmark moment in our family history, also signifying further changes in the landscape for the town of Whitby, Ontario.

The disappearance of family farms in Durham Region became a primary motivation for this project and I wanted to make a film depicting the sobering reality of farming for my family.  While significant urban growth in the area was a major factor in the decision to sell the farm, family dynamics played an equally significant role.

The pending destruction of the farm and the end of a family livelihood brought up questions surrounding its preservation. The events also spurred explorations into family and historical archives, such as home videos, photographs, and a Mackey family heritage book.  

This documentary film became a way for me to preserve the farm for future generations of my family and convey a personal story tied to the larger impact the disappearance of the farm will have in Whitby.

www.kathleenmackey.com

Kathleen Mackey

Rick Miller

Born and raised in the Gaspé, Rick Miller turned to filmmaking as an alternative to working in the mines. After earning a BFA, Rick toiled for 20 years in dark edit suites, eventually embarking on a career in collaborative filmmaking so that he might be exposed to sunshine from time to time. Miller currently resides in Toronto where he manages Dragonfly Motion Pictures.

Thesis:The Joy in Rage, a collaboration with the Raging Asian Women

The Joy in Rage explores how a group of women use music to make a space for themselves in the world. The Raging Asian Women are a taiko drumming collective who have taken an ancient male Japanese musical tradition and made it their own. Using performance footage and “hands-off” interviews, the documentary creates a portrait of nine engaged and enthusiastic women who use drums to make themselves heard in a society that would otherwise silence their voices.

With The Joy in Rage, Raging Asian Women and I are creating an enthusiastic statement against racism, gender bias, and heterosexism. Filmmaking, for me, is an exercise in personal disempowerment. Rather than imposing my directorial vision on my subjects, I am more interested in mediating the expression of individual voices. Through collaboration, I am creating documentaries that, while still subjective, attempt to minimize the power associated with my own socio-political location and maximize the strength of my co-creators.

Rick Miller

Suzanne Murdoch

Suzanne Murdoch was born and raised in Montreal but has called many places home. Murdoch earned her undergraduate degree in Film and Rhetoric at Laurentian University where she uncovered her passion for documentary film. After university, Murdoch spent time teaching and travelling across Canada and Asia where she became aware of the impacts of globalization and Westernization on other cultures. Murdoch’s desire to effect change through art brought her to the Documentary Media program at Ryerson University

Thesis:Savage Gold

The documentary film Savage Gold was inspired by my recent trip to Guatemala where I became aware of a human rights issue that changed the way I perceived Canada. Goldcorp Inc., a Canadian gold mining company operating in Guatemala, has stirred up community conflict, brought agricultural destruction, effected water contamination, and caused illness in the affected communities of San Marcos and Sipacapa.

A powerful Canadian mining lobby, and the existence of public funding for Goldcorp Inc., makes us all complicit. Scant media attention leaves most Canadians unaware of the ugly legacy being left behind by one of our own companies.

The resistance effort in Guatemala and Canada is receiving more attention in its attempt to hold Goldcorp Inc. accountable to human rights ideals and environmental law. In the film, human rights organizations, Liberal MP John McKay, Guatemalan citizens—including indigenous leaders speak out against the company’s influence in Guatemala and explore the potential for a brighter future.

Suzanne Murdoch

Mark Neufeld

Mark Neufeld is an emerging documentary photographer. He holds an Honours BA in Visual Arts. Neufeld credits his photographic influences to an extended period of time spent living and working in southern Africa. His work has been exhibited in southern Ontario and published through the humanitarian organization MCC.

Thesis:Secret Selves

Secret Selves is a photographic and audio documentary focusing on four disabled residents living in a group home. Using sound, this project goes beyond stereotypical charity imagery and engages the viewer in a multi-sensory experience. Audio, layered with photographs, produces a complex depiction of the lives of these individuals. The multiple and sequential presentation of the images echoes a filmstrip, calling attention to the inability to know someone through a single photograph. These sequences along with the accompanying soundtrack provide a larger window into the complex, secret, and often misunderstood lives of the disabled. 

Secret Selves depicts the lives of Richard, Mary, Michael, and Rosemary. Empathetic in nature, this project allows the viewer to engage with the residents and recognize some fundamental differences between disabled and non-disabled lives. The audience is also provoked into exploring its own reactions and feelings, and perhaps facing prejudices or fears relating to the disabled. Just as the images take both a broad and intimate view of the subjects’ living space and daily lives, the audio includes personal conversations and public dialogue. Secret Selves presents the viewer with a glimpse into the personal space of these four individuals, hoping to offer new insights, while recognizing the limitations of media to translate lived experience.

Mark Neufeld

Erin Riley

Erin Riley is a photographer based in Toronto where she has worked as an editorial photographer. Her work has appeared in many national newspapers and magazines.  Recently she was awarded a Scotiabank Scholarship to attend the Magnum workshop with photographer David Allen Harvey. During the spring of 2009 she travelled to the high arctic with the Canadian military as one of five civilian artists chosen to participate in the Canadian Forces Artists Program. Her interests as an image-maker involve achieving a balance between documentary and art.

Thesis: Seats of Power

The ubiquitous chair. Utilitarian object. Object of design. Symbol of power. Chairs are everywhere. We spend many hours a day sitting in chairs, at work and at home. Chair imagery pervades our everyday language and is embedded in a network of symbols. The chair as metaphor appears in such common uses as: Chairman of the Board, to have a seat on the stock exchange, the witness chair, to be on the hot seat. Descartes wrote about the seat of the soul. The title of Chair is bestowed upon high-ranking academics at universities. But why the chair? What is it about chairs? And why should we care?

Seats of Power is a collection of portraits of the chairs upon which sit political, business, cultural, spiritual, and media icons in Canada—from the grassroots, to municipal, provincial, and national levels of prominence. The work asks the viewer to consider whether these chairs, both individual seats and institutional ones, are worthy of those who use them and how they function as symbols of power, hierarchy, and status. By examining the objects themselves, what if anything, can we learn about the individuals who occupy them, or the expectations, responsibilities, or promise (or lack thereof) a chair can inspire?

 www.fotographer.ca

Erin Riley

Renée Rodenkirchen

Renée Rodenkirchen is an emerging Toronto-based documentary filmmaker who completed her undergraduate degree at Dalhousie University in International Development and Social Anthropology in 2006. She has a strong interest in social issues and hopes to use documentary film as a vehicle for education and broadening awareness.

Thesis: Feeding the Brain

Mental illness is an increasingly pressing issue for Canadians. Over 1 in 5 Canadians will be diagnosed with a mental health disorder in their lifetime, and millions of dollars will be spent on healthcare and prescription drugs to treat these individuals. The documentary film, Feeding the Brain, explores the urgent need to find treatments for mental illness that do more than merely mask the symptoms.

This film tells a story of the struggles that many face in an effort to treat their mental illness, and presents some of the most promising, albeit less conventional solutions that have been found. Mental illness survivors, researchers and healthcare practitioners tell their compelling stories and share the hope of a new paradigm in treating mental illness. Feeding the Brain is a film that addresses the need to re-evaluate the causes of mental illness and the corresponding treatments.

Renée Rodenkirchen

Sarah Sharkey Pearce

Sarah Sharkey Pearce is a Toronto-born documentary filmmaker, artist, and educator. She works with communities to create participatory media art projects and aims to develop a documentary aesthetic that represents the reality of the imagination as much as it does the everyday. Sharkey Pearce’s work has screened at festivals, conferences, and in educational institutions across Canada and in the UK. She holds a BA in Humanities and BFA in Film and Video from York University.

Thesis: Weston Public

Weston Public is a site-specific collaborative research project that investigates the complexity of youth experience in public space in Weston-Mount Dennis, Toronto.

The project brings together architecture and documentary film as a form of spatial and social practice. Weston Public was made in collaboration with Mariangela Piccione, a graduate student in the Faculty of Architecture at the University of Toronto.

Weston Public uses a participatory creation strategy and is comprised of a series of short documentaries about the relationship between people and place in multiple sites within Weston-Mount Dennis including; an abandoned Kodak building, a barbershop, a public pool, etc. The short videos are projected through architectural models and exhibited as a site-specific multi-channel video installation.

Weston Public facilitates a neighborhood’s participation in its own story and transformation. It makes an interventionist proposition by engaging people in dialogue about where they live, who they are, and how they are represented. It provides a new analytical basis for approaching documentary and design that privileges the dreams, desires, and experiences of a community.

www.westonpublic.com

Sarah Sharkey Pearce

Cynthia Shulak

Born and raised in Montreal, emerging artist Cynthia Shulak completed her BA in Women’s Studies at Concordia University. Her projects have included work with urban arts festivals, youth programming, and work as a contributor to various magazines and websites. She speaks three languages and is interested in creating works that touch on gender issues in popular and alternative culture through visual media.

Thesis:Not Just Boy’s Fun: The Rad Ladies Project

Inspired by my female friends and a personal interest in researching subcultures, the online video work Not Just Boy’s Fun: The Rad Ladies Project offers an alternative to traditional documentary form by shifting the director’s role to that of a facilitator and creating a space for expression of self through online media.

Highlighting my personal experiences and those of other women connected to underground music scenes, Not Just Boy’s Fun: The Rad Ladies Project attempts to bridge the gap between filmmaker and subjects. What began as an idea for a film in response to “rockumentaries” centered around male subjects quickly evolved into a collaborative Web-based project that allows participants to upload their own audiovisual content, building an archive of stories and discussion.

Through the use of social media and peer-to-peer networks, I am documenting experiences and untold stories, building an online community and offering a fresh take on the relationships between artistic forms, documentary practices, and technology.

Cynthia Shulak

Kate Tarini

Kate Tarini is an emerging photographer living and working in Toronto, who graduated from the Ryerson University photography program. Her work has been featured in group and solo exhibition throughout Toronto.

Thesis: Behind Closed Doors: Spaces of Accumulation

Behind Closed Doors explores the relationship between photography and the archive. By using photography, the medium instrumental in creating the archive, I have effected a visual dialogue about the boundaries and definitions of both documents and archives. By documenting the systems that are central to our creation and perpetuation of collective memory and history, this work examines the authority, power, and fear surrounding these objects and spaces. The images illuminate institutional accumulation and reveal what is often closed to public access.

Kate Tarini

Jeff Winch

Jeff Winch is an independent artist who produces films, videos, photography, and installations. He graduated with distinction from the Ontario College of Art and Design, winning several awards, among them the university’s highest honour: the OCAD Medal for Integrated Media. He has exhibited internationally at festivals and galleries, and his films and videos have been televised in Europe and North America. His latest multi-screen installation, BLUE, received sponsorship from Samsung Canada. He lives with his wife and daughter in Toronto.

Thesis: 21st Century Calling

This film examines a controversial rail expansion currently underway in west Toronto. On opposing sides of the issue are the Ontario government, seeking to expand the public transit network, and the local communities, who want to protect their health. Events of the film take place in the Junction Triangle, once a notoriously toxic industrial neighbourhood that will now be re-polluted by the province’s eight-fold increase in diesel train traffic. Citizens have mobilized against a plan they don’t want, and against the politicians they elected to represent them. The government is pushing forward with diesel trains for the expansion, citing financial constraints as the main reason. Local residents want clean electric trains used on the line, arguing that the long-term damage to health negates the short-term savings of going diesel. The community keeps on fighting, but time is running out.

Jeff Winch

Peter (Zak) Zakrzewski 



Peter (Zak) Zakrzewski is a designer and design educator. Zakrzewski continues to explore his life-long fascination with the power of design to change the world, solve problems, and affect human behaviour. His work and research are focused on the exploration of the links between design, innovation, and culture.

Thesis:  Slave in a Box: Are Brands Consuming our Culture?
 
 


Slave in a Box: Are Brands Consuming our Culture? explores the complex relationship between branding, popular culture, and democracy at a time of profound cultural changes brought on by social media. This film explores the fundamental issue of the balance between private desires and public good. The film’s commentary, tracing the rise of branding, as the latest stage of capitalism, is illustrated with advertising and promotional materials for brands such as Pepsi, Nike, and Aunt Jemima. Key arguments from Naomi Klein’s book No Logo, as well as interviews with authors Benjamin Barber, Grant McCracken, and Henry Jenkins feature in the documentary.

Peter (Zak) Zakrzewski


 

 

 

 

 
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
 
   
   
Samantha Wehbi image

Samantha Wehbi '12,  Here,There, and Nowhere: Imaginary Geographies of Translocal Spaces