Sunday, August 2, 8:30pm, Symphony Barn (64 min.)
by Myke Dyer
Continuing our tradition of film and live music collaborations, we are thrilled to present a contemporary Canadian silent film by Guy Maddin with a live soundtrack composed and performed by Bob Wiseman.
Originally presented as an installation of ten, six-minute episodes in ten peepholes at Toronto’s Power Plant gallery and the 2003 Rotterdam Film Festival, Cowards Bend the Knee is so visually arresting that it appears as a never-ending cliffhanger, ultra-condensed and blenderised. Cowards is twisted and poisoned wish-fulfillment: the mythomaniacal Maddin casts “himself” (actually, Darcy Fehr) as a hockey player made lily-livered by mother and daughter femme fatales, and resurrects his father as the team’s radio broadcaster and his own romantic antagonist. Set in a shadow-suffused hockey arena and a beauty salon/abortion clinic lined with two-way mirrors, the plot drips with sordid family secrets.
The film combines melodrama, wild fantasy, sex and violence with a filmic tribute to the masters of late silent films (the German expressionists in the 1920s) and early sound films (like American horror movies from the 1930s). The visual style employs the look of the silent era; the iris camera lens, the exaggerated makeup effects, even touching up the print to give it the look of a silent movie worn over time. While most of Maddin’s films have the visual styling of silent movies, he set out to make Cowards an actual silent movie. There is no dialogue, only intertitle cards.
As Maddin says, “(Cowards is) a lovingly self-loathing peek at myself, but only as I would have enough courage to look—through a cracked glass made foggy by hairspray.”
Bob Wiseman, a Canadian singer-songwriter and filmmaker, has composed the score for Cowards. His outsider music blends folk, rock and jazz, and very often contains explicitly political themes. He has toured with Feist, Final Fantasy, and Scott Thompson and has been a guest performer with Wilco and Edie Brickell. He was a member of Blue Rodeo from that band’s inception, departing the band after their 1992 album Lost Together.
Since 2000 Bob has made super-8 films and videos that he accompanies live on accordion, guitar or piano. The second part of his performance in the Symphony Barn will include some of his own films and a duet with a friend in Australia to accompany him live with an overhead projector for a love song or two.
The Silencers will include Laura Barrett, Magali Meagher and Ajay Mehra
on a variety of instruments. Laura has performed her quizzical, unconventional
sci-folk across the continent and beyond. Ajay is a writer and musician
from Toronto. As head beekeeper of The Phonemes, Magali Meagher’s sinewy
lyrical imagery finds purchase in simple, melody driven songs and layered