Image: cityscape from Wong Kar Wai's beautiful 2046 (2004).

Sunday, October 3, 2010 Interview

During the opening hours of TIFF 2010, I sat down for an interview with's Michael Guillen to discuss the City to City program, the role of personal taste in film festival curation, the emerging scholarly field of urban-cinema studies and some of what makes TIFF such a unique festival. Michael posted our interview on Twitch and on his own blog, The Evening Class, and he made me sound pretty dang coherent. (Also, just by looking at the other features on the website surrounding my interview, you can see how widely Twitch writers cover cinema and media culture: everything from film fests to one of the funniest ad campaigns ever. Have a browse.)

Thanks Michael!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

TIFF's City to City 2010 focus: Istanbul

So, the blog entry I started right when we announced this year's TIFF City to City focus (way back in August) was never finished: strangely, TIFF kept me too busy.

While the post was supposed to be the big reveal on the focus city - Istanbul - this will instead be a look back at the programme that was, and a brief one at that.

You can read the text Cameron and I authored about our selection online here.

This page has links to all of the films we programmed - 18 in all.

Here is a link to an article reviewing the programme posted at CBC Arts Online, with arts reporter Jessica Wong, and here I am talking up CTC with Toronto Star reporter Ashante Infantry.

I may try to add to this post over time, but for now I just wanted to get the links up for the read-ables that are already out there.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Urbanism + Typography: The Fun Side of City Branding

I'm a tad besotted with the CitID project, which has received some recent coverage via the New Yorker and Fast Company, among other sites. An initiative of design firm Norwegian Ink, CitID invites designers to create logos for their cities that are superior to your run-of-the-mill, dry, tidy and often completely uninventive tourism efforts. (Torontonians may recall the hub-bub around the uncanny similarities between the Toronto Unlimited campaign and the Bahamas tourism design.)

Not everything submitted to the site will make your socks go up and down, but when designers get it right, the results are lovely. On the one hand, CitID represents a sound argument for more user-generated logo creation, an opportunity that too many organizations and companies deny themselves. On the other, it offers a breath of fresh air to those of us who spend too much time amid theory about how corporate branding is turning our urban surrounds into soulless, interchangeable yawnscapes. Maybe we only need to look out the window to learn that, actually.

In any event, as of today, there is still ZERO representation of any Canadian cities, so Canuck graphic designers, you know what you have to do. Toronto, Montreal, Sudbury, Halifax, Vancouver, Regina... none of these places is going to logo-ize themselves... at least not well.

(Both images courtesy of CitID.)

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

And Another Overdue Mention...

Last spring, I co-edited an anthology on the cinematic representation of my hometown (and current home) with the inimitable Steve Gravestock, TIFF's Associate Director of Canadian Programming.

onto on Film was published by TIFF and distributed by Wilfrid Laurier University Press (by Indiana University Press outside of Canada). Click here for a link to the WLUP site.

You can read a review of the anthology in the Spring 2010 volume of Cineaste.

It was my first scholarly editing stab, both trial by fire and incredibly rewarding. The collection features essays by critic Geoff Pevere and scholars including Brenda Longfellow, Wyndham Wise and Justin D. Edwards, as well as contributions by TIFF's in-house experts Steve Gravestock, Piers Handling and Matthew Hays, tracing the evolution of the industry here, the eventual obsession with/necessity for role-playing as other cities (license-plating, as Geoffrey Nowell-Smith once referred to it) and, as of late, it's return to some semblance of... itself.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Overdue Mention...

Back in the summer, a chapter of mine - first ever to be published - finally saw the light of day after a many-year wait and valiant efforts by the editors to see the project to completion. The anthology is called Moving Pictures/Stopping Places: Hotels and Motels on Film, and was published in July of last year by Lexington Books.

My chapter, written concurrently with the formative stages of my dissertation work, is ponderously titled "Just an Anonymous Room: Cinematic Hotels and Motels as Mnemonic Purgatories." (Honestly... what was I thinking?) The approach is reflective of my (then less-developed) fascination with the intersection of space/spatialization and narrative in filmmaking, analyzing such spaces as "paradigmatic zones of transit and homelessness." I look at Leaving Las Vegas, Memento, The Business of Strangers, Tape, Century Hotel, Chelsea Walls, The Tesseract, Dirty Pretty Things and 2046 and deconstruct the functions of the hotel/motel space in support of the narratives' creation of purgatorial spaces.

Mercifully, I think the chapter held up over the years and the anthology overall contains some great, vigorous analytical writing.

The book is available on Amazon and other online sellers, and hopefully at many local and campus libraries.