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POV Magazine

POV Magazine

Fall/Winter 2020 (Issue 113)

POV is Canada's destination for documentary culture. We cover the art and business of documentary, reporting on the best in non-fiction film, photography, new media, and podcasting.

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Canada
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English
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POV Magazine
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10 minuti
anticipating a reckoning

ADAM CURTIS IS A POLARIZING AND ENIGMATIC FIGURE. A self-described journalist and historian, Curtis has spent decades at the BBC creating sprawling, authorial film essays, connecting the dots of 20th-century history to reveal a disturbing picture of the contemporary world. Curtis is maligned by those who view him as a conspiracy theorist, propagandist, emotional manipulator, or even a crypto-fascist. But his many devotees can be found across the political spectrum. Even Kanye West loves him—whatever that means. Much is made of Curtis’s style, which is an idiosyncratically journalistic one with aesthetic sensibilities more familiar to art filmmaking than what gets filed under “factual television.” His films are ridden with alienation devices designed to remind the viewer that what they are watching is a narrative construction, and not a neutral account of…

13 minuti
strand, levitt, and parks

“PHOTOGRAPHY AND FILM MAY DIFFER,” wrote the distinguished curator Felix Hoffman recently, “yet in their imagery and narrative styles, the two media have much in common.” Three American media agnostics whose careers as filmmakers and photographers spanned the course of the 20th century—Paul Strand, Helen Levitt, and Gordon Parks—exemplify the cross-pollination between the two media. Paul Strand IN 1921, Paul Strand (1890–1976), already well known as an art photographer, made the short film Manhatta in collaboration with painter Charles Sheeler. The 12-minute film begins with a poem by Walt Whitman that proclaims: “City of the world / (for all races are here) / City of tall facades / of marble and iron, / Proud and passionate city.” Strand captures the spirit of these words by portraying the city with high-angle and graphic…

11 minuti
an essentialism crisis

THE DESIGNATION OF “ESSENTIAL” INDIVIDUALS and work in response to the COVID-19 pandemic revealed a lot about who we value and who we overlook within our societies. The standing of doctors, already everyday heroes for saving lives and curing diseases, was further elevated. Significantly, we were finally forced to acknowledge the importance of grocery clerks, transit operators, and other labourers who are so often disregarded because their toil is usually seen as menial. On the other side of the coin, COVID-19’s toll in longterm care facilities prompted discussion about the expendability of older citizens, a line of thinking that peaked when the Lieutenant Governor of Texas, Dan Patrick, suggested that Americans over 70 years old should be willing to sacrifice themselves in order for the country’s economic activity to resume. Watching…

15 minuti
the new corporation

THE LEFT WAS IN A SORRY STATE IN 2003. In the U.S. and the U.K., the nominally centre-left governments of Bill Clinton and Tony Blair had long since consolidated the neoliberal reforms of their right-wing predecessors, handing power to moneyed interests. The Soviet Union had fallen, its former territories given “shock therapy” in the form of catastrophic privatization, its bureaucratic socialism supplanted by the most ruthless capitalism overseen by a new class of oligarchs. Across North America there were protests against the war in Iraq, against China entering the World Trade Organization, against austerity—none of them successful. Leftwing radicalism was largely reduced to two tendencies. On the one hand, it was an aesthetic gesture: one read Chomsky and Foucault and listened to Rage Against the Machine and showed up to…

13 minuti
when worlds collide

FOR NEARLY SIX DECADES, Werner Herzog has crafted iconoclastic works in both fiction and non-fiction. With his Bavarian drawl and sardonic air, his films often focus on obsessive characters, the bleak indifference of nature’s cruelty and the strange beauty of the odd creatures that inhabit our world. Herzog’s solo projects have included landmark titles such as Cave of Forgotten Dreams (2010), a wonderful journey into humanity’s artistic past, and Grizzly Man (2005), which chills more than any horror film by illustrating how self-delusion is often the most self-destructive of human attributes. With 2016’s Into the Inferno, Herzog solidified his collaboration with Clive Oppenheimer, Professor of Volcanology in the Department of Geography of the University of Cambridge; the scientist had already appeared in his Oscar-nominated doc Encounters at the End of the…

5 minuti
no ordinary man

MOST BIOGRAPHICAL DOCUMENTARIES ON ARTISTS are linear narratives that unravel past glories and the legacy they left behind. But No Ordinary Man, which tells the story of American jazz pianist and trans man Billy Tipton, is no ordinary music documentary. In it, co-directors Aisling Chin-Yee and Chase Joynt bring contemporary relevance by foregrounding present-day trans masculine voices. “I’ve come to see our film as kind of a politics of recognition. So it’s not only about trans men looking back in history and finding resonance in his story. It’s about trans men finding each other on screen,” says Joynt. In No Ordinary Man, Tipton’s story, which includes stardom in the South from the late ’30s to the end of the ’50s, multiple marriages, and the adoption of three children, is reconstructed and re-envisioned…