Cinema Scope

Audrey II

Canadians don’t do sequels. Or at least we don’t do them that often: Don Shebib went Down the Road Again again in 2011, and Bruce McDonald got the band back together for Hard Core Logo 2 (2010); commercially oriented hits like Fubar (2002) and Bon Cop, Bad Cop (2006) have been profitable enough to justify follow-ups. For the most part, though, ours is a cinema of self-contained, one-and-done narratives, geographically proximate but industrially and temperamentally separate from the franchise mentality of American studio moviemaking. But in the past few years, there has been a small cycle of interesting Canadian films whose creators eschew the conventions of sequels while still productively reusing or repurposing characters or scenarios, including Philippe Lesage’s skillful diptych Les démons (2015) and Genèse (2018), linked by the surprise appearance in the latter of the former’s ten-year-old protagonist, or the multiple iterations of “Matt Johnson” featured in Nirvanna the Band the Show, The Dirties (2013), and Operation Avalanche (2016). (Not quite Canadian, but close enough for rhetorical purposes: sometime Torontonian Nicolás Pereda’s recurring docu-fictional use of Teresa Sanchez and Gabino Rodríguez as versions of “themselves.”)

Sofia Bohdanowicz and Deragh Campbell’s MS Slavic 7, which premiered in Berlin’s Forum and has been slated for New Directors/New Films in New York, is a sequel, but not in the way its title suggests. It’s fun to imagine somebody coming across the title and imagining six previous features about a female Eastern European superhero (played by, let’s say, Milla Jovovich), but the name refers to the call number of a file at Harvard’s Houghton Library housing the correspondence of the Polish-Canadian poet Zofia Bohdanowiczowa, Bohdanowicz’s great-grandmother. The film, which was actually shot entirely in Toronto (with the city’s Polish consulate and the TIFF Film Reference Library jointly standing in for the Ivy League environs) is about the efforts of a fictional character, Audrey Benac (Campbell), to access and analyze a series of letters sent between Bohdanowiczowa—who, in the film’s slightly modified reality, is her great-grandmother—and another real-life poet, Józef Wittlin. As in both the 2016 feature Never Eat Alone and the nine-minute short Veslemøy’s Song (2018), Campbell’s Audrey functions as a barely veiled stand-in for Bohdanowicz, as well as an entry point for the audience to examine the latter’s family history.

In the space of just a few years, Bohdanowicz has emerged as one of the most acclaimed and interesting English-Canadian filmmakers of millennial vintage, cultivating trilogy of short films, she filmed her maternal grandmother Maria in her Etobicoke home, then returned to shoot the same location after Maria’s death, and finally superimposed images from the first visit over the second to create what may be the most tender and technically ingenious haunted-house movie I’ve ever seen. juxtaposes authentic footage of the filmmaker’s paternal grandmother, Joan Benac, playing medieval dress-up on location at Casa Loma in the ’50s, with a fictionalized narrative about a reconnection with an old flame brokered by Audrey; the elliptical, black-and-white sketch finds Audrey researching the late violinist Kathleen Parlow, who mentored the director’s musician grandfather.

Вы читаете отрывок, зарегистрируйтесь, чтобы читать полное издание.