Chris Kennedy

“Canadian Pacific: Films by David Rimmer”. March 22 & 23, 2014

Canadian Pacific: Films by David Rimmer
Two Programmes.

The world premiere of the restoration of David Rimmer’s Variations on a Cellophane Wrapper at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival was the first fruit of a major restoration project— undertaken by Mark Toscano at the Academy Film Archive in Los Angeles—devoted to one of Canada’s most important experimental filmmakers. Rimmer has been exploring the formal properties of filmmaking since the late sixties, employing a structuralist approach that eschews that mode’s occasional tendency towards intellectual dryness by filtering it through a West Coast sensitivity to landscape, poetry and psychedelia; indeed, many of his early films, comprised of a visceral mix of re-photographed found images and looped sounds, were made in the context of Vancouver’s interdisciplinary happenings.

Even though Rimmer’s films are recognized as key works of Canadian experimental cinema, they have not been screened extensively in Toronto for quite a few years. Recent publications, and Rimmer’s honouring with the 2011 Governor’s General Award, has brought back some well- deserved attention to his work, but it is unquestionably the AFA’s restoration project that is the most important endeavour in resurrecting his invaluable oeuvre. Conceived as a status report on this long-term project, these two programmes of restorations and newly struck prints offers Toronto audiences a chance to discover or reacquaint themselves with the early work of one of Canada’s most influential experimental filmmakers.

Presented in partnership with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences.



Like many filmmakers raised in or transplanted to the verdant wilds of British Columbia, the stunning beauty of the West Coast landscape has played a central role in Rimmer’s work. The films in this programme capture visions of natural beauty both undisturbed (the shadowed patterns of clouds on mountains in the time- lapse film Landscape being one of the most idyllic) and marked by human expansion, as in Canadian Pacific’s view of Vancouver’s Burrard Inlet, framed by the North Shore Mountains across the water and the railroad that serves as an essential connection to the rest of Canada in the foreground. The programme culminates in Rimmer’s early classic Migration, a tour de force of expressive personal filmmaking in which Rimmer creates a stunningly kinetic relationship with the world around him.

David Rimmer will be joined onstage by Mike Hoolboom and the Academy Film Archive’s Mark Toscano for a post-screening discussion.

Landscape dir. David Rimmer | Canada 1969 | 8 min. | 16mm
Canadian Pacific 1 dir. David Rimmer | Canada 1974 | 9 min. | 16mm
Seashore dir. David Rimmer | Canada 1971 | 11 min. | 16mm
Surfacing on the Thames dir. David Rimmer | Canada 1970 | 5 min. | 16mm
Narrows Inlet dir. David Rimmer | Canada 1980 | 10 min. | 16mm
Treefall dir. David Rimmer | Canada 1970 | 5 min. | 16mm
Migration dir. David Rimmer | Canada 1969 | 11 min. | 16mm Approx. total running time: 59 min.

Saturday, March 22 6:30pm




Often turning to found footage as a means to explore the expansive possibilities of film’s material base, Rimmer took to using an optical printer to re-photograph short loops of documentary imagery, devising various strategies to manipulate, break down and otherwise transform the original footage. The results are as expressive as they are analytical: in Variations on a Cellophane Wrapper, Rimmer uses coloured gels to abstract a billowing sheet of plastic into pure psychedelia; in Watching for the Queen he step-prints a shot of a waiting crowd to virtual stillness, so that each frame allows us to pick out individual personalities and tics; and in Real Italian Pizza, he re-photographs street footage he shot from a Manhattan studio window to create an anthropological study of the everyday. The programme concludes with the remarkable, seldom-seen Bricolage, which serves as a virtual compendium of Rimmer’s investigations into the social and aesthetic impulses behind the moving image.

David Rimmer will be joined onstage by Mike Hoolboom and the Academy Film Archive’s Mark Toscano for a post-screening discussion.

Variations on a Cellophane Wrapper dir. David Rimmer | Canada 1970 | 8.5 min. | 16mm
Watching for the Queen dir. David Rimmer | Canada 1973 | 11 min. | 16mm
Real Italian Pizza dir. David Rimmer | Canada 1971 | 13 min. | 16mm
Square Inch Field dir. David Rimmer | Canada 1968 | 13 min. | 16mm
Blue Movie dir. David Rimmer | Canada 1970 | 6 min. | 16mm
Bricolage dir. David Rimmer | Canada 1984 | 11 min. | 16mm

Approx. total running time: 62.5 min.

Sunday, March 23 6:30pm