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POV Magazine Spring/Summer 2021 (Issue 114)

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.

POV Magazine
2 Issues

in this issue

3 min

IT’S BEEN OVER A YEAR and the pandemic is still with us. While the statistics are appalling—we’ll be at 3 million deaths soon enough—COVID has become far more than a scourge attacking humanity. Our way of life has changed and there’s no turning back. We all know this and are constantly speculating about the “new normal.” The question is whether this plague will transform the world for better or for worse. It’s a great and terrifying time to be a documentarian or, quite frankly, to be any kind of thinking, caring human being. The majority is coping, but how long will it be before people start quoting Network on their Zoom calls and screaming “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore”? Joe Biden and other neoliberals are…

3 min
ring the (inter)net

CANADIAN HERITAGE’S BILL C-10 sets forth amendments to the Broadcasting Act, following a recommendation by the Yale Report to tackle the dominance of tech giants in Canadian screen culture. The centrepiece is a radical departure from the past, with internet “over the top services” (OTTs) like Netflix being asked to contribute significantly to our production system. Yet the proposed amendments are complex and could usher in potentially unpleasant unintended consequences. The issues and risks are varied and complex, and far exceed what I can breeze through here. Here are just some top line thoughts. First, the 1991 Broadcasting Act can’t touch online undertakings like Amazon Studios or Netflix. This “hands off” approach was repeatedly reinforced by the Harper government’s slogan, “no Netflix tax.” At the moment, these streamers are exempt from…

12 min
black trailblazers

PEOPLE HAVE A WAY of celebrating those who are the first to reach the top of the mountain without necessarily acknowledging the struggle they endured along the way. For Black pioneers in documentary filmmaking, their ascent often meant climbing solo with little support. POV reached out to award-winning filmmakers Selwyn Jacob, Sam Pollard, and Sylvia D. Hamilton to learn about some of the adversities that they had to overcome when embarking on their filmmaking journeys. Working in film had long been a dream of Canadian filmmaker and producer Selwyn Jacob when he was a young boy growing up in Trinidad. Little did he know that all it would take was a magazine cover, featuring a Black man who had gone to the University of Southern California (USC) film school, to make…

12 min
tiger kings & wretched things

EVERY JUNKYARD, while teeming with trash, has its share of treasures. I see cultural junkyards as attractions where humans wander and sample the ornaments of creativity. In recent years, corporate streaming services have provided us with ever more junkyards, while making it difficult to find the treasures, especially if you’re looking for Canadian content and quality documentary. Indeed, while each service abounds with drossy bulk, each also has its fantastic finds. Amazon’s Prime Video, home to a hodgepodge inventory of scrap collected without an obvious curatorial strategy aside from “we sell everything!” has its Small Axe exceptions. Apple+ has, among its endless streams of mediocre late 20th century TV and movies, its standout WandaVision. Crave has more treasures thanks to the inclusion of HBO and Showtime fare, and so one may…

7 min
observing the observers

SINCE 2017, I HAVE HAD THE DISTINCT PLEASURE of serving as the chair of a preliminary judging committee for the Peabody Awards in broadcasting and digital media. Along with two graduate students from the Feirstein School of Cinema at Brooklyn College, CUNY, where I teach, we judge a slate of about 35 films. Each time we get to see a slate of diverse films which represent the state of the field that year. As a documentary maker and theorist, I take strong positions on the genre as it has developed over the past 25 years. The Watermelon Woman (Cheryl Dunye, 1996), which I produced, is considered a hallmark in the fields of Black and queer cinema, as well as in fake documentary, the subject of my co-edited scholarly book in the…

13 min
absurd! comic! docu-series?

THIS IS A TIME of humdrum conformity in film and TV. Netflix, Disney, “prestige TV,” “indie film”: they all rely on established narratives, characters, and signifiers rather than originality to win audiences and critical praise. Social and political discourse, once lively, are now similarly conformist. Once upon a time, complexity, nuance, sincerity, humour, modesty, and the like were treated as virtues. Now, at least in official media and cultural spheres, all issues are simplified, polarized, overheated. The volume and shrillness of the true believers obscure deeper realities of how people actually live; to wit, most people either don’t give a shit about politics or society at large, or hold a range of contradictory, heterodox beliefs unique to themselves. It is this context that makes the three shows I want to discuss here…