Tasty Morsels From Local Filmmakers

August 17, 2014

And yes, I have acted in films. I belly danced in one of the segments of the television series My Life as a Dog. When my son saw it he literally around on the floor hooting with laughter. When I have done comedy, I lose all dignity as to how I am dressed and what I look like. Comic make-believe is freeing in that way, I figure.

The following includes information about a crazy movie called The Barbecue that was taught in a very rainy early Winnipeg, Manitoba fall. I caught bronchitis from sitting around in the dampness for countless takes of backyard scenes and bronchitis is the ailment that keeps on giving. Once you get it, it keeps on coming back.

Here’s the piece:

The Manitoban
November 30, 1994
Tasty Morsels From Local Filmmakers
by Mark Caughlin

Throughout the ages, food has been a site of healing and an emblem of community. Two new local films however show that the meal as a potential site of unity can also fail, in fact exposing the very real distance we feel between one another.

Running in conjunction Make Some Noise: A Film About Musicin Toronto will be the premieres of films by two up-and-comers on the Winnipeg film scene. Katherine Kloczkowski will be screening her second film, the short Cookies and Midnight Cigarettes, while Winston Washington Moxam will show his fifth, a mid-lengther entitled The Barbeque.

Cookies and Midnight Cigarettes is a fantasy/drama about a young woman who daydreams about her psychologically disturbed neighbour. The process begins after the neighbour comes around at midnight looking to bum cigarettes from her while she’s baking cookies. The young woman’s imaginative sympathy is actualized when she tries to reach out to her neighbour with a baked offering, only to be rebuffed.

Despite apologies Kloczkowski made about problems in production, I felt her film was, on the whole, well achieved visually, with good camera work and mise-en-scene. The story, while perhaps lacking tautness (considering the brevity of the short format), nonetheless gives the viewer the promise of more profound things to come from this young filmmaker.

The epigram to The Barbeque, which is probably derived from Moxam’s earlier career studying anthropology at the U of W, gives us a pretty clear idea where this film’s (and where many of this filmmaker’s) concerns lie. “Thirty-five years ago, a small skeleton, nicknamed Lucy, was found in Africa. This gave credence to the notion that the origins of modern woman and man started in Africa and that the first human was black. Today, some people would rather plead ignorance to this fact.”

Gracie, a young black woman who is taken by her white former boyfriend Louis to meet his family and their friends at a barbeque. What ensues is a satire/drama (touched by the surreal) that exposes racist attitudes as they arise both in ignorance/arrogance and also in more purely malicious form.

While condemning, Moxam also chooses to find redeeming qualities in several of his characters (especially in Louis’ actuall family, including his burnout hippie uncle). As well, montage sequences interspersed with the action, especially those involving children, tend to find a sense of common humanity that the film shows to be buried under years of learnt racial hegmony.

The acting is unpolished, which is a times distracting in a film as sure-handed as this. Still, it generally suites the surreal feel of the film and it gives a rawness to the characters that makes them easier to identify with those amongst us, as well as ourselves. One drawback however is that the broadly satiric nature of many of these characters renders them largely incapable of criticizing the more subtle forms of racism that also lurk in the more racially liberal mind…
–END–
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Read the first posts in this blog by going to http://www.writingsmall.wordpress.com
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Confessions of a Tea Leaf Reader by Tanya Lester can be bought from the author or by going to the title and author name to read the first few pages and buy at amazon.com

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