Outer Worlds
Closing night, April 18, 2019
Cinesphere, Toronto

This program presents five original IMAX commissions, giving artists a unique opportunity to experiment with the large screen format. In keeping with the cinematic genre typical of IMAX films—the larger-than-life landscape that forms an outer world beyond the limits of the human sensorium—each of the films explores expanded cinema through different ecologies of the non-human: the forest, lichen, snails, water, and sky. The works propose different worlds of experience and distinct grammars of immersion through a meeting with the camera.

The invited artists in this program, Oliver Husain, Lisa Jackson, Kelly Richardson, Michael Snow, and Leila Sujir, imagine common worlds by reflecting upon the exigencies of intercultural and interspecies communication. This task has taken on great urgency in the 21st century as we grapple with how to adapt to the ecological realities brought about by anthropogenic climate change.

The term “Anthropocene” describes our current geological age, characterised by a massive acceleration in the geohistory of the earth. For some artists in this program this notion provides a means to reimagine our entanglements with nature and our damaged planet. For others, the new universalizing discourse of species avoids the real culprit: the Capitalocene. As expressed by Donna Haraway, the Capitalocene is the relationship between the commodification of the earth and the Anthropocene. These notions are critical as we rethink the future of global citizenship, a future that depends on our capacity to communicate across cultures and species to reimagine the worlds we share.
—Janine Marchessault

Commissioned by the Public Access Collective. Technical Production by True Frame Productions.
This is one of the 200 exceptional projects funded through the Canada Council for the Arts’ New Chapter program. With this $35M investment, the Council supports the creation and sharing of the arts in communities across Canada.

Aerial, Leila Sujir
World Premiere, Canada, 2019, IMAX digital, 10 min, English
A west coast rainforest seen through a drone-mounted camera. Moving rapidly as if it were a hummingbird, it hovers, zigzags horizontally, then vertically. Four white embossed stills of a forest landscape extend the possibility of inner spaces encouraging us to step back into ourselves, to contemplate, and to engage with memory and the recording process.

Lichen, Lisa Jackson
World Premiere, Canada, 2019, IMAX digital, 10 min, English
Lichen is an otherworldly film that takes a deep dive into a species that confounds scientists to this day. Ancient and diverse, thriving in adversity, lichen is a model of ‘emergence.’ This film reveals the hidden magical beauty of this remarkable life form and asks what we might learn from it.

Garden of the Legend of the Golden Snail, Oliver Husain
World Premiere, Canada/Indonesia, 2019, IMAX digital 3D, 13 min, English/Indonesian
Referencing a popular fairy tale and a new source of protein, the first IMAX cinema in Indonesia—the Keong Emas Theatre—was built to resemble a golden apple snail. Moving between tiny and monumental, soft and solid, mythical and invasive, this graceful animal is making its slow-paced way through the topography of IMAX cinema itself.

Embers and the Giants, Kelly Richardson
World Premiere, Canada, 2019, IMAX digital, 7 min
Embers and the Giants presents an endangered, old-growth forest during twilight, articulated by thousands of embers of light. Are we witness to a rare, exceptionally beautiful display of fireflies? Or is human intervention at play, suggesting a time when we’ll need to amplify nature in order to convince the public of its worth?

Cityscape, Michael Snow
World Premiere, Canada, 2019, IMAX digital, 10 min
Snow’s Cityscape elaborates on the methods used in his groundbreaking landscape film La Région Centrale (1971), which used a 360° rotating camera. Taking the advice of his long-time friend, Graeme Ferguson, to produce the latter as an IMAX film, Snow orchestrates new patterns of movement to dizzyingly capture the cityscape of Toronto.

Leila Sujir was born in Hyderabad, India, and moved to Quebec in Canada as a child. She first studied literature at the University of Alberta (Bachelor of Arts), and then moved immediately into film production as a young artist, working with the documentary form with the support of the Canada Council for the Arts and the Alberta Foundation for the Arts.

Anishinaabe filmmaker Lisa Jackson‘s genre-crossing work includes fiction, documentary, animation, virtual reality, and a musical. Her work has been screened at festivals around the world, aired on Canadian TV networks and has garnered her a Genie award. Her recent VR piece Biidaaban: First Light premiered at Tribeca’s Storyscapes and has played internationally to great acclaim.

Artist and filmmaker Oliver Husain uses a wide range of cinematic languages and visual pleasures—such as dance, puppetry, costume special effects—to invite viewers into complex narrative set-ups. Husain has participated in numerous international exhibitions and film festivals. In 2018 he had solo exhibitions at Gallery Clages, Cologne and at Remai Modern, Saskatoon.

Taking cues from landscape painting, cinema, and planetary research, Kelly Richardson crafts video installations and photographs that offer imaginative glimpses into the future and prompt careful considerations of the present. Her work has been selected for the Beijing, Busan, Canadian, Gwangju and Montréal biennales, as well as major moving image exhibitions including TIFF and Sundance.

Visual artist and musician Michael Snow’s films have been presented at festivals around the world and are in the collections of several film archives, including Anthology Film Archives, the Royal Belgian Film Archives, and the Oesterreichisches Film Museum.