As far as semi-rural towns go, Sackville is robust with respect to public film screenings. From documentaries organized by departments on campus, to recent festival features at the Sackville Film Society to cult favourites from the ages programmed by the Sackville Cinematheque, even the most esoteric film buff can find something to watch. Stars converged this past weekend and produced an itinerary for a three-day spectacle if you know where to look.
The first was the locally beloved Sackville Film Society, which screens every Thursday evening at the Vogue theatre under the motto “Film should be experienced as a collective experience.” The film was Spectres of the Shortwave, a 2016 documentary directed by Amanda Dawn Christie that chronicled the history and eventual demise of the Radio Canada International transmission towers that took place on Sackville’s own Tantramar marshes. Now based in Montreal, Christie is an interdisciplinary artist whose work often takes up topics of radio transmission and analogue media, and they began the project while living in Sackville in 2009.
Spectres of the Shortwave presented a fully bilingual audio history of the people and phenomena of these radio towers. Accompanied by 35mm shots of the site and surroundings, the surround sound transmission shared the living histories of locals and soundscapes of the towers and marshes. The film was not just a compassionate piece of documentary but was imbued with the eerie soundtrack that the towers pulsed with global transmissions charged with massive amounts of electricity that echoed in radio waves through the marshes, quite literally playing out of people’s fridges or taps because the current was so strong.
The project had been a broad success upon its release at the 2016 Atlantic Film Festival and, having already been screened at the Vogue that same year, found no decrease in popularity seven years later when Thaddeus Holownia remarked to the crowd that this past Thursday’s screening was one of the best audience turnouts of the season. The Sackville Film Society has just two more screenings this season; information and schedules can be found on their Facebook page or the Vogue Cinema website.
The following night, students and community members alike gathered in a lecture hall in the Sir James Dunn building for Naila and the Uprising. The event was co-organized by the Women’s and Gender Studies and the Politics and International Relations Departments. The film tells the story of Naila Ayesh and Palestinian women’s roles in the First Intifada movement for Palestinian liberation from apartheid. Using a combination of classic documentary-style talking-head interviews and footage, director Julia Bacha illustrates Naila’s story using animated scenes to depict her time confined in a Jerusalem prison.
Naila and the Uprising provides a telling of Palestinian resistance leading up to the Oslo Accords that includes the crucial roles that women played in the First Intifada. A history that is overwhelmingly fronted by men, Bacha animates the histories of women’s groups that formed in the wake of many Palestinian men being deported or exiled for dissent. The film was accompanied by a post-screening discussion led by Dr. Lara Khattab and Dr. Krista Johnston, faculty of the Politics and International Relations Department and the Women’s and Gender Studies Department respectively. This screening was the first of a two-part series of documentaries put on by both departments; the second will be The Second Mother (Que Horas Ela Volta?) and will be shown in the R. P. Bell Theatre on Friday, March 31 from 7 to 9 p.m.
To wrap up three nights of film, the Sackville Cinematheque put on their monthly screening, this time with Guy Maddin’s 2003 The Saddest Music in the World. The Cinematheque hosts monthly screenings of film favourites from throughout cinema history in a different location each time. Without a dedicated venue, the Cinematheque has taken up screenings at places such as the Owens Gallery, Struts & Faucet, and the Sackville Commons. Attendance is pay-what-you-can and always includes a brief introduction to the film by programmer Dino Koutras.
The Saddest Music in the World is an elaborate retro spectacle set in Depression-era Winnipeg, characteristic of Maddin and often considered his masterpiece. This is the first season that the Cinematheque is running and Koutras states that they are still testing the waters of which films and genres the community is interested in. As of now, he is programming a wide variety of classic, cult, or art films that often aren’t included in other screening schedules.
There is one final screening on the Sackville Cinematheque calendar for the month of April. Information can be found at @Cine_sack on Twitter or https://www.sackvillecinematheque.com/calendar.