I have seen Rebecca around town at various functions. She tells me we bumped into each other at a past Kingston AIDS Walk for Life. Which is apparently how her ReelOut story began.
ReelOut Queer Film + Video Festival is now in it’s 13th year in Kingston staring on January 26thto February 5th. This year, ReelOut will be airing a few local film and video artists’ pieces, including Rebecca Anweiler’s piece called Bright Sparks, on Saturday, Feb 4th at 2pm. The afternoon program is called FAMILY FUN! SHORTS FOR KIDS OF ALL AGES at The Screening Room. I thought, “Why not give Rebecca a little email house-call”. Here’s Rebecca’s bio and a little interview we did. Hope you like it, SweetPeas!
Rebecca Anweiler is a Kingston-based visual artist who completed her MFA at Concordia University in Montreal, and is an honours graduate of the Ontario College of Art and Design, receiving numerous awards for her work. She has taught at Queen’s University for the past 8 years, as well as at the University of Lethbridge, Alberta and Concordia University, Montreal. A recent recipient of both Ontario Arts Council and Canada Council grants, Anweiler’s artwork has been exhibited extensively in Toronto and Montreal, and she has paintings in several public collections including the Agnes Etherington Art Centre, the City of Toronto, and the University of Lethbridge Art Gallery. This is her first foray into video making.
1. Tell us about yourself and your work. What sparked your passion to make this film?
I’m a Kingston-based visual artist who primarily works in paint media. This is my first video ever, and I developed it from a set of photo’s I took the summer before my son, Keiran, turned six. I’m not a photographer by any stretch of the imagination, and don’t use my photos as source material for my paintings, but these images with a shaky camera from nighttime at a friend’s cottage on the Victoria Day weekend were visually lovely. I had taken them in a sequence when I noted how lovely the effects of sparklers moving through the air were, and when I reviewed them some months later as a sped up slideshow, and the movement through several of the sequences, it gave me the idea of using them to create a video.
2. What is your experience with film making in Kingston? Considering how close you are to major Canadian centres such as Toronto and Montreal, what draws you to work here? What is your association with the film industry in other cities?
I put together a rough draft of Bright Sparks while I was teaching at the Bader International Study Centre in the UK during the summer term of 2011. I was there for three weeks and really missing my son when I began it. Through Skype, he had been showing me how he’d lost his first tooth, graduated from Kindergarten and had learned to ride his two wheeler in that short period of my being away. It became painfully apparent to me how quickly this time with him as a young child was passing.
While I was in the process of trying out video making the first time on my laptop I got information about Modern Fuel Artist Run Centre’s High Octane Production Residency in their e-newsletter. This is their residency program for first-time video makers to develop their work using Modern Fuel’s video-making and editing equipment, along with the technical help of the New Media Workspace Coordinator, who at that time was Neven Lockhead. I applied with my rough draft and was excited to be accepted. I spent two weeks upon my return finishing off my video and then screening it for the first time at Modern Fuel Square Pegs IV in August 2011 after it was completed.
3. What film makers and other artists have influenced your work? Who do you look up to? Do you have any local mentors?
I don’t see myself as a film maker, and to be honest, I’ll have to have similarly delicious photo material to work with to do that again. Hours in front of a computer making tiny changes to the material is still not my idea of a great time although it was an eye-opener to the amazing possibilities of the technology. But I think I’ll always love a more low-tech kind of art-making. But I do love films, and there are a lot of filmmakers who I admire for their amazing craft: Barbara Hammer, John Greyson, Richard Fung, and Patricia Rozema to name a few of the queer ones.
4. What were some of the challenges in making this film and how did you feel about the final product and reception?
When I took the original photographs, I wasn’t thinking I was going to be turning them into a video, so I didn’t shoot tons of images, or switch my camera to video at any time. While my intent was to keep it short; it was about the brevity of childhood; I really did have to extend the images I had to turn it into a full minute film. I’m happy with it in the end and hope that it’s effect on others is similar as it has been for me – to want more, and to wish to see it again for what was maybe missed the first time around.
5. What is the significance of screening at ReelOut to you as a local film maker?
It hadn’t occurred to me to submit the film to ReelOut, but I ran into Matt Salton (Festival Director of ReelOut) at the Kingston AIDS Walk for Life and he encouraged me too. It’s not that there is queer content, or even campy elements, or even something about my relationship with my son addressed in it, at least directly, but Matt said that queer video might just be video made by queers and so I sent it in. Since this is my community, and ReelOut is one of the fabulous things that happens here, I’m really proud to be part of the Festival screenings this year.
6. What are your feelings and thoughts on being part of the first ever kids program for ReelOut?
What drew you to making a kids’ friendly/themed film? Did you see an opportunity or are you a kid at heart?
That there’s a kids program this year is also wonderful. Our lives are not limited or defined simply by our sexualities. We have many other roles and overlap with many other communities in our day to day existence. Many of us are parents and deal with many issues in that role that makes life richer and also more complex. It’s really great to see those relationships come to be recognized distinctly by ReelOut.
Bright Sparks wasn’t developed as a kid’s themed video, but the content is definitely kid-friendly. It’s about the brevity and magic of childhood, and I think one of the ways adults can most easily remember what that was like is to light sparklers at night. I am not a kid at heart, but I miss it, and am all the time looking for ways of remembering that the world is in fact pure magic.
Rebecca’s film, Bright Sparks, screens on Saturday, February 4th at 2PM during the Family Fun! Shorts for Kids and All Ages program at the Screening Room.