Now that it’s beginning to feel a bit more like winter, it’s time to enjoy some of the indoor arts Montreal has to offer. We’ve got a couple of great suggestions this week, one from the world of burlesque and a documentary film. We will be back with a larger list next Friday. So let’s get started!

Candyass Cabaret: Stumped in the City

While Montrealers decided to push out the old and bring in the new in our recent municipal election, there still are plenty of reminders of what the now previous administration did all around town.

With fake granite tree stumps still on the Mountain and traffic cones on our streets, the monthly Candyass Cabaret burlesque show had more than enough inspiration to frame their show tonight as Stumped in the City. Can you make fiscal mismanagement sexy? Apparently, the answer is yes!

Billed as an “off-mtl375 cabaret” the show is hosted by Jimmy Phule and features performances by Miss Curvy Beauty from France, Nat King Pole, Roxy Hardon, Classy Clare, Tania the Mexican Mime, James Douglas and many more!

Candyass Cabaret presents Stumped in the City, Friday, November 17, 10pm (doors 9pm), Café Cléopatra, 1230 boul St-Laurent (2nd floor)

Queercore: How to Punk a Revolution

On Monday, Cinema Politica and MediaQueer are presenting the Montreal premier of Queercore: How to Punk a Revolution. This film from director Yony Leyser follows the rise of the queercore movement, which was originally intended to “punk the punk scene” but turned into a movement of “artists who used radical queer identity to push back equally against gay assimilation and homophobic punk culture.”

G. B. Jones’ The Troublemakers, a doc which takes a look at the queer movement in Toronto, will kick off the evening and the cult icon herself will be in attendance.

Queercore: How to Punk a Revolution Montreal Premier at Cinema Politica, Monday, November 20, 7pm, Concordia University, Room H-110, 1455 Blvd de Maisonneuve West

* Featured image from the Candyass Cabaret by Argaive

Is there an event that should be featured in Shows This Week? Maybe something FTB should cover, too? Let us know at arts@forgetthebox.net. We can’t be everywhere and can’t write about everything, but we do our best!

Forget The Box’s weekly Arts Calendar is back for its last November edition. Take a look at these excellent events if you’re looking for fun and inexpensive things to check out!

As always; if you’re interested in going to one of these events and want to cover it for us, send a message  or leave a comment below.

Beaux Dégâts #45 – Tap Water Jam MTL + Ella Grave showcase

Beaux Dégâts is a time-honoured Montreal tradition that combines improvisation in musical and fine arts to create a unique organic event space. From their Facebook page:

“Beaux Dégâts tries to make a parallel between the reality of street artists and the Fine Arts. It is here to bring back what has been ignored for too long by art institutions and return to the street artist’s reality: the importance of community, sharing, accessibility and uniqueness.

For two hours, six teams of artists will improvise 8ft X 8ft murals on different themes given on the night. Each team will have to research and find visual references to create a production in front of public. All mediums except spray cans are allowed. During the evening, the public will vote for it’s favorite mural using their empty Pabst beer cans. The team that will collect the most cans will win the right to paint over the other artists work if they wish.”

Beaux Dégâts #45: Live Improvised Painting and Music – Wednesday, Nov 30, Foufounes Electriques, 8pm-1am. Entrance: 5$

The Crossing presented by Cinema Politica Concordia

Cinema Politica is a media arts, non-profit network of community and campus locals that screen independent political film and video by Canadian and international artists throughout Canada and abroad. It is volunteer-run and all screenings are by donation.

 

The film that Cinema Politica is screening this Monday, The Crossing, “takes us along on one of the most dangerous journeys of our time with a group of Syrians fleeing war and persecution, crossing a sea, two continents and five countries, searching for a home to rekindle the greatest thing they have lost – Hope.”

The Crossing screening @ Cinema Politica Concordia, 1455 de Maisonneuve Boulevard W, Room H-110, Monday, 7pm. Entrance by Donation

50/50 presented at Mainline Theatre

50/50 is a novel concept; a half-scripted, half-improvised live comedy show! This show was a major hit at Just For Laughs 2016 and will not be back for four months – definitely catch this if you can at the Mainline Theatre.

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Coming off a sellout show at OFF-JFL/Zoofest this past July, 50/50 returns with a new cast blending talented actors and hilarious comedians. In each of the show’s nine scenes, a prepared actor who has learned lines off a real script is paired with an improviser who has no prior knowledge of what the actor has rehearsed.

50/50 @ Mainline Theatre, 3997 boul St-Laurent. Wednesday, November 30th, 8pm. $15 (students/seniors/QDF Members $12)

Is there an event that should be featured in Shows This Week? Maybe something FTB should cover, too? Let us know at arts@forgetthebox.net. We can’t be everywhere and can’t write about everything, but we do our best!

What is nonviolent resistance? Is it actually better than violent resistance? These two questions are at the heart of the documentary Everyday Rebellion produced by the Riahi Brothers. The very first quote in the film sets the mood for the discussion:

“Throughout the history of mankind, people have been fighting for their rights. But contrary to popular belief, violence is not the most successful method in this struggle. Nonviolence is.”

You might think that this is a very bold statement to make. How do you stand against a system, whose tools of control have been designed to monopolize the means of violence, by pacifism? Non-violence does not necessarily mean pacifism, though. It doesn’t mean that you respond to violence with passivity. Instead, non-violence encompasses a broad range of acts that can serve to obstruct the balance of the status quo.

One of the main messages of the documentary is that even the smallest act can trigger a change in the way people think. Small victories build up and eventually you might actually achieve something. According to the documentary, for instance, the Arab Spring in Egypt had been in the making for ten years before they actually managed to topple Hosni Mubarak.

To put the political theorizing aside, the documentary follows the multiple stories of everyday resistance. These stories include the Occupy movement in the United States, the Indignados in Spain, the Femen movement, the Arab Spring, and Iran’s Green Movement. In between the narratives, the documentary presents social scientific facts about the effectiveness of non-violence.

One of the strengths of this documentary is that it actually tries to advise people as to how to conduct non-violence most effectively and efficiently. The people who talk directly to the camera are activists and community organizers. The tone is educational. You can tell that they want to teach you how to bring down the system and give power to the people.

What is really amazing is that these people are from all over the world. It may seem like they are fighting for different causes, but in essence what they are doing is standing up for themselves. A narrator whispers at some point: “The priorities of any advanced society must be equality, progress, solidarity, freedom of culture, sustainability and development, welfare, and the people’s happiness.”

Trying to understand the global interconnectedness of these social movements is the main purpose of this documentary. These movements communicate with one another, share tactics, and learn. In that sense, this documentary does an excellent job in continuing that work, by allowing others to directly see what goes on within these movements. It can be daunting to attend a protest and risk getting arrested, but there are other things you can do.

So, if you wish to learn about non-violence, direct action, civil disobedience, organizing, and a lot more, Everyday Rebellion is what you’re looking for. Cinema Political will be screening this documentary on September 1, at 9 p.m. at la Place de la Paix, as part of Cinéma urbain à la belle étoile. You really shouldn’t miss it.

I have to admit, this is not the film I was expecting. When I heard the title The Yes Men are Revolting, I thought, great, this film will be chock full of some of the best culture-jamming stunts the duo of Andy Bichlbaum and Mike Bonanno and their team of activists pulled off over the last few years. It was, but that wasn’t all.

Having done some guerilla theatre myself back in the day, I was happy to see what arguably the most successful shit disturbers for a cause on the planet had pulled off. The movie delivered. From impersonating Environment Canada at the Copenhagen Climate Conference to really stirring the pot and getting the room dancing at the Homeland Security Congress on Capitol Hill alongside Canadian anti-tar sands activist Gitz Crazyboy, I was impressed.

It was entertaining; they got their point across and presented fake propositions that were much better than what we actually get from governments and companies. But the film really got interesting when it delved into the Yes Men’s actual day-to-day reality.

We learn, or at least I learned, that Bichlbaum and Bonanno are actually Jacques Servin and Igor Vamos. They have lives outside of the Yes Men and even have day jobs. Trying to save the world, believe it or not, does not always pay the bills.
This is a documentary in every sense of the word. Co-director (along with The Yes Men) Laura Nix follows the pair around as they deal with family, relationships and take part in some of the major events of the past few years, from Occupy Wall Street to Hurricane Sandy relief. We even get glimpse of how that particular natural disaster affected them personally.

We get a behind-the-scenes look at some truly great stunts and learn that, no, not every jam goes off as planned. What happens when things don’t go right? What happens when they come off as planned but the desired effect is not produced? What keeps you going?

For The Yes Men, it is their desire to fight climate change and leave a better world for future generations. From New York, to Alberta’s Tar Sands, to Uganda, to Denmark and eventually to Washington, DC, we follow The Yes Men through culture jams, lawsuits and the re-discovery that it is all worth while.

It’s a fun and interesting film on its own, but even more important if you’re interested in guerilla activism or want to fight climate change.

Watch this trailer and then come meet the Yes Men in person when the film screens at Cinema Politica tonight:

The Yes Men are Revolting screens tonight, Monday, March 16th at 7pm at Cinema Politica Concordia, H-110, 1455 de Maisonneuve Ouest, Metro Guy-Concordia

Every year, Cinema Politica brings some of the most important, relevant and powerful political and social documentaries to Canadian screens. This year, one of the most anticipated films is Blair Dorosh-Walter’s Out in the Night, which tells the stories of four African-American lesbian women who were incarcerated after an altercation outside a New York theatre, labeled as a ‘ruthless lesbian gang’ despite clearly acting in self-defense. In the spirit of films like The Thin Blue Line, Out in the Night methodically deconstructs the case against these four women, as well as shedding light on their lives before and after their prison sentences.

Out in the Night insertFormally, Out in the Night uses the same set of tools as other socially-conscious documentaries. Talking heads, inter-titles, archive footage, you know the drill. Expanding or playing with the limits of representation and documentary form aren’t really the concern of the film as much as communicating information in as direct a manner as possible.

Out in the Night succeeds in this goal, telling the story of these four women and laying out the many holes, inconsistencies and outright fabrications in the case laid against them in such detail that it becomes almost impossible to doubt their innocence. Simply as an example of documentary journalism, Out in the Night is a very strong film.

However, like many films of this nature, Out in the Night doesn’t quite go far enough. Although the story of these women and the many ways in which society and “the system” failed them are laid out, the larger questions, and any attempt at answering those questions, are only slightly touched upon. It isn’t enough, for me, to simply say -how- these women were wronged so spectacularly, but -why-.

What are the systems of homophobia, male entitlement and racism that created a world where these events could even happen? How has the media, whose sensationalist coverage of the incident and subsequent trials is a focus of the film, become so skewed and dependent on hyperbole and exaggeration? What social and political systems are responsible for what happened, and most important of all, how can we combat them?

The film does an excellent job at raising awareness of the many failures of the American justice system and the adversity faced daily by African-American members of the LGBTQ community, but raising awareness is step one. Step two is aiding the audience in putting that awareness to good use, how to channel the outrage at this and similar incidents into real social change. How to recognize the systems, both political and social, that made this happen, and ensure these mistakes are not repeated.

Out in the Night is ideal for festivals like Cinema Politica, and group viewing in general, in that may be at its strongest when accompanied by group discussion. Monday’s CP screening, in partnership with Black History Month Montreal, will include a group discussion with special guest speakers.

Simply watching the film isn’t enough. Talk about it, discuss the questions the film didn’t bring up or answer. Use it as a catalyst, a jumping-off point for discussions of social change and reform. Because although it is very good, it can’t function on its own as a tool for inciting the change in the world that will prevent incidents like the one shown in the film from occurring again.

* Out in the Night plays at Cinema Politica Concordia Monday, February 2, 7pm. 1455 deMaisonneuve Ouest, room H110

Ezra Winton is the program director of Cinema Politica. This rant originally appeared on his blog at EzraWinton.com and is republished here with permission from the author.

I’ve watched over 50 documentaries in the last two weeks (and many more over 14 years of programming), and here’s what I’m thinking:

The first point is so crucial that I’d like to just put it up front and center, then get on with the lesser evils of contemporary documentary filmmaking: If white people, who are usually or always cis-gendered males, are featured in your film as the only subjects, protagonists or voices of authority, then you have either made a film about a small remote sect in some distant corner of the world where only white people live or you have failed Representation 101. Have you been told there are no women geologists who are working on the issue you’re highlighting? Look a little harder – guaranteed there are women who can speak to the issue. No people of colour (POC) in your purview? Then step out a little further – they’re there. And now, on to my rant list.

1) I’m altogether done with pretty images observational filmmaking – it’s great for mainstream festivals and yes that light refraction is splendid, and at this point we all understand that the equipment is sooooo nice that’s irresistible, but how about some perspective/POV? Which brings me to point number two…

2) Making a film about injustice? What are the root causes and what are the names of the people/companies who work the levers perpetuating those root causes? If I’m still asking that when the credits roll, then your film is of little use to me and the scores of activists who want to use your film as a platform for radical progressive change. Yes we can all Google the issue and find out the name of the mining/oil/gas company sowing destruction and misery and yes some of us probably know it’s got to do with colonialism/capitalism/racism/sexism, but why didn’t you say so?

3. Stop with the wall-to-wall music in your films. Please, for the love of god, use it sparingly and remember just because they do it in Hollywood, doesn’t mean the rest of the goddamned film-world has to too. Especially during interviews. As a programmer friend recently said of an otherwise good documentary: “They scored that within an inch of its life.”

4. Make your subtitles readable. That means NOT WHITE you bastards. Please note white is fine if you use the shocking new technique of drop shadow or outline on your font…

5. What is with the resurgence of Voice of God narration? Europe and North American white-guy-with-a-camera I’m talking to you. Yeah yeah it’s personal, it is to all of us, so stop making it about YOU. Let your protagonists, the front-liners, do the talking. Please note if your film is really about you or someone so close to you it is really also about you, then I am not, at this moment, talking to you.

6. Set your interviews up before capturing them: take time to get the lighting and sound just so before speaking with awesome people doing awesome work or having awesome insight before plunking your camera on a tripod and sticking a mic on their collar or above their head. This one adjustment will immensely improve about half of all the documentaries I see. And please note academics can and will be filmed away from bookshelves full of books.

7. Please stop filming hands in interviews. It’s gone too far. For the love of all that is docu-holy, please stop.

8. If your “B-roll” sucks, it means you didn’t think it out and spend enough time preparing. Which means, think it through and prepare. If I see another kayaker representing human-nature equilibrium or another goddamned windmill representing alternative energy I’m going to barf in goddamned b-roll agony. Please note I hate the term “B-roll” and know that all roll is A-list in the eye of the creator, but filmmakers, you know what I’m talking about.

9. If you can’t keep the camera steady then get a steady-cam device or tie a goddamned rope with a barbell to your wrist and stop making us feel nauseous — it’s uncomfortable and distracting. Unless of course you’re chasing a criminal or running from a rhino.

10. If you haven’t watched at least 100 documentaries before making your own, then don’t make your goddamned documentary until you have. Please note that some are and will be an exception to this rule, but they are so few that I see no reason to amend this point to say anything than other that which it suggests: do your homework.

PS: If your trailer is better than your film, you probably should have made a shorter film.

*If I sound like the Winnebago Man it’s because I’ve just come off a major programming bender and I needed to let off some steam. It’s programmers burnout. I’ll be OK again soon. And I wouldn’t want anyone to think that this list is some kind of manifesto for how to make some fantastical perfect doc. In fact, in the past few days I’ve programmed docs with kayakers, shaky cameras and too much music – all of them great films with minor flaws. I’m just saying that these are things to keep in mind, at least when circumstances allow.

And on a last note, some folks responding to my rant seem to think my above tone is too serious, cocky or stern, but it’s meant to be playful, an effort that might be a goddamned failure in and of its goddamned self.