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Antimatter festival adapts

Hybrid model brings 100 films

The 23rd edition of the esteemed Canadian media arts festival Antimatter will adopt a hybrid model of presentation in response to the constraints of the current pandemic. From October 15 to 24, Antimatter will present more than 100 films in 20 curated programs on screen, as installations in the public realm and online.

Hailing from 30-plus countries, 70 per cent of festival offerings are world, North American or Canadian premieres.

“Antimatter has always enjoyed receiving work from new artists internationally, and functions as an incubator for distributors worldwide,” according to festival director Todd Eacrett. “This year our challenge was to find the upside in limitations imposed by COVID-19. We decided on an untried model of intimate screenings at Deluge Contemporary (636 Yates Street) for a limited number of pre-registered attendees, followed by 24-hour free unlimited streaming access to each program. We hope this binary approach will create a new community of viewers globally as well as offer greater access to local and regional audiences, while addressing their various comfort levels in the midst of the current situation. Ultimately, we have a duty to the artists making this work to present it in the way they envisioned—on an actual screen in shared public space. This new way of doing things involves a bit more effort on our part for what we believe is a much greater reward.”

Dedicated to the exhibition and nurturing of diverse forms of media art, Antimatter is one of the premier showcases of experimentation in film, video, audio and emerging time-based forms. Encompassing screenings, installations, performances and media hybrids, Antimatter offers local, regional and international artists a noncompetitive festival setting committed to diversity and inclusivity, free from commercial and industry agendas. Since 1998, the quality and creativity of its programming, dedication to audience development, resolute internationalism and respect for artists and their work have made Antimatter one of the most important media arts events in Canada.

Public installations this year include Nib8ïwi (Marie-Josée Tremblay) at Legacy Gallery, Ektadome (Laura Trager) at Ministry of Casual Living’s Window Gallery and Motion at a Distance (Andrew Yong Hoon Lee/Lindsay Packer) at Empty Gallery, as well as Transmitting and Receiving (Dee Hood) and House Pieces (Christine Lucy Latimer) at Deluge.

Special screenings include the premiere of Vancouver-based Alex MacKenzie’s Think Before You Think, a portrait of Canadian film poet, animator and artist Rick Raxlen. Shot on 16mm film and digital video at his Victoria home and studio over the course of a year, the film follows Raxlen’s daily practice, uncovering the rituals and gestures of his creative process. Mining the highly specific and personal nature of this life-sized project, excerpts from Rick’s films, drawings, paintings and mark-making from his 50-plus-year art practice combine with hand-processed and manipulated film materials to play off the rites and relaxed rigour of his unique approach to making a life.

Vancouver musician and composer Jason Zumpano conceived of the stylish and meditative film project Water Over Glass, inviting four filmmakers to produce visual accompaniments to The Cyrillic Typewriter’s ambient electro-acoustic album of the same name. Kellen Jackson, Zoe Kirk-Gushowaty, Jimi Pantalon and Amanda Thomson use a variety of analog and digital techniques to create imaginative film sequences that complement what began as Zumpano’s internal sonic landscape.

In lieu of public engagement events in the time of COVID, Antimatter has moved to an online platform presenting 11 open-ended portraits of filmmakers and their work called Automat.

Antimatter curator Deborah de Boer reflects that “one of the greatest losses this year is our inability to interact with visiting filmmakers and we wanted to address the confusion and isolation we may be experiencing, without subjecting artists to the pressures of another Zoom meeting or live-streamed conference. Automat is a project that returns agency to filmmakers by allowing them to reveal themselves in an open, intuitive and direct way—on their own terms and in their own time.”

De Boer added that all filmmakers included in the 2020 festival have a standing invitation to return to Antimatter. “We will extend formal invitations to any artists who wish to travel to Victoria next year and invite them to participate in outreach.

Installations and online programs are free or by donation. Screenings at Deluge will require advance online ticket purchase. Complete festival program guide available online and throughout Greater Victoria starting October 1.

Antimatter is produced and programmed by Todd Eacrett and Deborah de Boer: 250 385 3327 /