There is power in a union… If Christy Clark says it’s okay
By Rod Mickleburgh
That Christy Clark can sure be a funny premier. And I don’t mean Hamish jokes. Take the recent flare-up over who gets to build that farm-flooding, massive Site C dam in northeastern B.C. Please…
Until recently, attempts by the province’s once-powerful construction unions to secure a fair crack at the work had received no more than the bureaucratic equivalent of a bucket of warm spit from the powers that be at BC Hydro and the Liberal government’s own representatives. Not only was Hydro insisting on a construction site open to union and non-union contractors, which was not all that surprising, the Crown corporation wanted to ban the building trades from even trying to organize dam workers who were not unionized. Unions? Unions? Don’t need no stinking unions.
It was all very reminiscent of the distaste for union labour that prevailed during the 10-year premiership of Gordon Campbell. Egged on all the way by Phil Hochstein of the strident, ...
Searching for newspapers and the soul of David Carr
By Rod Mickleburgh
The late, great David Carr, media reporter for the New York Times, continued to value newspapers, even as he covered the rapidly-changing online media world that is threatening their existence with free, easily-accessible, short-attention span hits. Carr read two or three papers every morning before heading into work, and whenever he was in a new city, he relished reading the local newspaper. He said it gave him a sense of the buzz and mood of the place that no travel guide or web site provided.
I, too, always buy the local paper when I’m travelling. There is never a dearth of stories offering a glimpse of life outside one’s own navel-gazing metropolis (vote ‘Yes’).
So it was recently, as I passed through LA’s International Airport and the world’s busiest airport, Hartsfield-Jackson in Atlanta. At both terminals, I seemed to be the only person reading a newspaper. The LA Times, a slimmed-down sylph of its former bulky self, cost a buck. The ...
PROFILE: ANNE WHEELER
Born: 1946, Edmonton
One of the original rebels, it often seems the entire western film tradition sprouted from Anne Wheeler’s loins. If not on a formal level -- then certainly on a spiritual one. Exuding a sense of quiet, calm confidence, she has been referred to as a “Dalai Lama-like” presence by the legions of young actors and film-makers who have shared her many movie sets.
“All of us dream of being like Anne,” noted Lynne Stopkewich, fellow west-coaster and director of Kissed. “She just flows.”
Director of several features, including the critical success Bye Bye Blues (1989) and the commercial hit, Better Than Chocolate (1998-9), Wheeler has blazed her own trail through the wilderness -- not just in film, but in life as well.
Growing up the little sister to three older brothers in the already hostile landscape of Edmonton, Wheeler says she was “determined to catch up” with her older siblings, regardless of whether the ...
PROFILE: DENYS ARCAND
Born Deschambault (between Quebec City and Trois Rivieres)
June 25, 1941
Perhaps the first Canadian film-maker to achieve true celebrity status, not just in English and French Canada but around the world in the wake of Declin de l’empire Americain, Denys Arcand still gets a rush out of getting a last-minute reservation at his favorite restaurant.
“As a film-maker you become semi-famous for six months -- every four years. I can’t say I don’t like that. I’m not addicted to fame or anything, but it’s nice to think people are listening when you open your mouth to say something,” said Arcand after the release of Stardom, his 2000 film that centred around a young female hockey player from rural Ontario who becomes a supermodel quite by accident.
“I’ve been a celebrity since 1986, after Declin. That was my first taste of stardom. Before that, no one asked me what I thought of anything. Fame gives you this sense of recognition and in ...
PROFILE: ATOM EGOYAN
Born, July 19, 1960
Named in honour of the first nuclear reactor in Egypt, Atom Egoyan seemed fated to make a lasting impression. The first child born to Joseph and Shushan Yeghoyan, Armenian refugees living in Cairo, Atom, his sister and his parents moved to Canada in 1963 -- where they set down roots in the gardening capital of the Great White North: Victoria, B.C. In order to make the transition smoother, the Yeghoyans opted for a phonetic spelling of their family name and opened a furniture store -- despite their own creative bent. Both parents had once studied fine art, and Joseph even spent time at the Art Institute of Chicago as a young man. They were the only Armenian family in Victoria at the time, and for the young Atom, a first-generation immigrant trying to find a place in the verdant bosom of British colonialism, an outsider stance came as second nature.
At first, like most kids whose parents have “accents,” Egoyan ...
PROFILE: LÉA POOL
Born 1950, Geneva, Switzerland.
From scrawling on blackboards in her native Switzerland to calling the shots on feature films in Canada, Léa Pool has travelled a great distance both physically and emotionally since abandoning her teaching career to study communications at L’Universite du Quebec a Montreal. When Pool left Geneva in 1975, she did so with the simple aim of learning to shoot video so she could teach her students what to do. She never dreamed of making movies, let alone becoming one of Canada’s premier directors, but once she discovered the medium’s ability to act as a type of psychic paint stripper, Pool was hooked.
Beginning with a small, co-directed documentary short about a bellhop in a hotel, Laurent Lamerre, portier, Pool made an impression off the bat and was given a chance to teach after she completed the program. Un Strass Cafe (1980) was her first solo project -- an experimental short made with the support of the National ...
PROFILE: NORMAN JEWISON
NORMAN JEWISON Born 1926, Toronto, Ont.
He’s one of many young, talented Canadians who wandered south to fulfill his dreams -- but he never abandoned his Canadian identity, and when it came time to reinvest in his cultural heritage, Norman Jewison didn’t just give something back -- he created a legacy in the form of the Canadian Film Centre (or The Norman Jewison Centre for Advanced Film Studies). Located in an old mansion on the outskirts of metro Toronto, the centre opened its doors in 1986 and has since pumped out some of the best screen talents the country has to offer.
Though he’s experienced great success on the American side of the border, Jewison has never been co-opted by the studio system. His films tend to follow certain studio conventions, but he makes movies that explore themes of social justice and tolerance, and sticks to his guns regardless of the potential backlash.
For instance, when Jewison’s most recent film The Hurricane (about the wrongful ...
PROFILE: DAVID CRONENBERG
DAVID CRONENBERG: Born March 15, 1943 Toronto, Ontario
He is prolific, profitable and perhaps one of the most “commercial” directors in Canada. Not surprisingly, he is also one of the most misunderstood. His is a thinker and a sensationalist, a survivor and a nihilist, a humble outsider and a self-absorbed snob, a proud Canadian and a disciple of Hollywood genre. Fortunately, David Cronenberg loves a good dichotomy. In his godless universe, meaning must be self-derived through a process of personal investigation -- and no mental tools can chisel away at the subconscious like conflict and a good intellectual challenge. For this reason, Cronenberg movies inevitably deal with a character in the midst of a transformation. In most cases, the transformative agent is something tangible and hostile from the outside, but inevitably born from within -- either mentally or physically.
For instance, in Shivers, his early feature film shot in Montreal, Cronenberg subjected an entire ...