Toronto
3 min

Guts, gore & pussy galore

Peer into the glory hole of indie cinema

GROTESQUERIE. Glammed up felines star in Martha Colburn's Cat's Amore. Credit: Xtra files

Independent film and video are by nature full of guts and, if the filmmakers’ wishes come true, glory.



If guts are what get your goat, this year’s Images Festival, running Thu, Apr 10 to 19, is rampant with works that can make your stomach turn or, for the more maso-chistic, pinch you in exactly the right spot.



The Seven Circles Of Hell program (at 11pm on Fri, Apr 18 at Latvian House, 491 College St) is full of devilish delights. From the Netherlands and the US comes a 16mm short film called Skellehellavision, aptly described as a “porn flambé.” Animator Martha Colburn gives us a piece which, if it was made mandatory viewing in grade schools, would scare the pants off the children and ensure a steady decrease in future porn sales. While demented funhouse music plays, we see footage of skeletal hands fondling breasts, pin-ups burning and cross-figured serpents crawling out of crotches.



Also in Seven Circles is the Canadian video Interference. Queer filmmaker Dara Gellman, who is known for reclaiming video images and subverting them, teams up with Leslie Peters for this vague visitation to suburban hell. Reprogramming crime scene footage, with the constant distant sound of gunfire, the visuals allude to many things, leaving the audience to decipher their exact meaning.



Still in the twisted nightmare category, The Travelling Eye Of The Blue Cat from US filmmaker Shawn Atkins is a creepy collage come to life. This surreal world of cut-outs, follows the frolics of some possessed felines and their feathered friends. From paper doll people in bed together, to the transference of eyeballs, this colourful fantasy even has a woman decapitated by a cat, who then goes on to use her head a plaything.



Gay Toronto filmmaker Wrik Mead brings us Grotesque, in which the devil tries to use a swan’s carcass to help him become more divine. Using a knife, he hacks apart the swan then stabs himself in the shoulder blades so that he can attach the wings to himself. The devil then proceeds to cut off his horns and skin himself, only to cough up creatures of bones and barbed wire who undo all his hard work.



These last two offerings are screening as part of GUH Meets Méliès program (9:15pm on Fri, Apr 18 at Innis Town Hall, 2 Sussex Ave), which will feature live musical performances by Toronto ensemble GUH.



If you prefer giggles to guts, go see the You’re Soaking In It program (at 7pm on Sat, Apr 19 at Innis Town Hall). The definite gem of this program is Benny Nemerofsky Ramsay’s I Am A Boyband. Starring in his own music video, Ramsay performs as four distinct personas: the punk, the athlete, the rock star and the flamboyant, to form his own boy band. Singing the song “Come Again, Sweet Love” by composer John Dowland, Ramsay updates the 16th-century ballad with electronic sounding voices and choreographed dance moves. Funny and fantastic – edible eye candy for queer boys.



Also in the same program is a miscellaneous piece called La Tombola. In footage from a strange Mexican game show, one woman condemns her son’s marriage, another young woman wearing a tight pink miniskirt dress flashes her bare bottom and a rich man denies that he’s bisexual claiming instead that it’s his twin brother. Caught in the middle of the confusion is the filmmaker Ximena Cuevas who disrupts the show by asking the audience at home why they’re not interestedin their own lives.



Another treat in the You’re Soaking program is Cat’s Amore. This piece by Martha Colburn, which is “dedicated to shitty kitty,” gives new meaning to the term “pussy.” Cat’s Amore features pin-ups with cat heads and dogs with wagging tongues ogling over the glammed up felines.



If you won’t get your fix from the gross and the giddy, perhaps what you need is to have your heartstrings tugged at. Two exceptional works that will leave you moved but also depressed are FF-REV and Die Trauernde.



From Estonia, filmmaker Ene-Liis Semper plays the heroine destined to repeat her role as the subject of tragedy in FF-REV (screening as part of Do The Wrong Thing 1: Qu’est-ce que tu fais? at 7pm on Mon, Apr 14 at Innis Town Hall). This gorgeous woman with a shaved head, shot in black and white, reads a book and then hangs herself and then rewinds to read the book again and then rewinds further to shoot herself in the head. Stirring, these striking images flow with a calm beauty that doesn’t match the violent acts.



In Do The Wrong Thing 2: Speech And Sorrow (following part one at 9:15pm), there is lesbian filmmaker Wendy Coburn’s piece Die Trauernde (The mournful one). The need for love wins out over basic survival when baby rhesus monkeys are removed from their mothers and given the choice between a wire mother with food or a cloth-covered surrogate without. This brilliant two minute short features footage in slow motion of a baby rhesus clinging to the cloth doll. With the sound of a soprano pleading in pain, it ends with the serious and sullen look on the monkey’s face. If this piece doesn’t get to you, you truly have a heart of stone.



Take advantage of this nine-day festival and feed your eyes a frenzy of images that have an equal shot at floating your boat, or sinking it.



IMAGES FESTIVAL.

$8 per program; $75 pass.

Thu, Apr 10-19.

(416) 969-0543.

www.imagesfestival.com.