Just days into the Covid-19 lockdown, I learned that I was fortunate to receive Canada Council for the Arts funding to support the post-production phase of my digital film project, Borderland Memories, a work in progress since 2015. I began working with my sound and picture editing collaborators via Zoom and other online platforms, and the process of editing and audio production became a slow meditation in the restructured perception of time generated by social distancing. Online work time is both more compacted and more fragmented, producing a continual reassessment of the themes I am expressing for the future screen. What will the stories I’ve been exploring in this film for the past five years mean in the larger post-pandemic histories to come? Two years ago, I was in Berlin at this time, doing archival research at the German Historical Museum, filming in the city and in places along the German/Polish border, meeting with colleagues in the Silesian countryside and in the city of Wroclaw. Although I had gathered enough material to construct my film when travel options ended, I was hoping to return to Europe this spring for some final research and image production. Now I wonder what film festivals and screenings will be like in times ahead, and what are the ethics of future travel – for work, for time with loved ones abroad, to reach into a wider world.
Views From Home: Facing North (2019) records changing views from the filmmaker’s Toronto home over two decades and multiple seasons, moving from analogue film photographic studies to digital media practices as years of construction and redevelopment of the visible landscapes unfold. Key historical moments are cited to sound effects and ambient music. A part of this work was previously shown at Gallery 44 Members Space, Toronto. Below is the trailer. The short film is distributed by Canadian Filmmakers Distribution Centre (CFMDC).
Since 2015 I have travelled three times to Lower Silesia, Poland, where my father’s family lived for centuries under Bohemian, Prussian, and German rule. Their homes were in regional villages south of Wroclaw, a thousand-year old city. The earliest Silesians were migratory tribes. Traces of Stone Age habitation were found on the city’s riverbanks and Celtic populations passed through and moved on. Silesia was claimed by the kingdom of Poland shortly before the year 1000, followed by various competing rulerships and kingdoms as the land was bought, sold, seized in battles and traded in marriages between revolving political, social, and religious controls, becoming finally a province of the Republic of Germany until it was annexed to Poland after WW2. My relations, along with most ethnic Germans, were expelled to the west, leaving their homes behind. While in Silesia I filmed sites, visited archives, and recorded interviews for my media project, Borderland Memories. I was a visiting researcher on a team from Adam Mickiewicz University, Poland, and my project research and creation was funded by the Canada Council for the Arts.
The research I cited for this project ten years ago, in part for my doctorate in Environmental Studies, was recently connected to new media stories. In the film, I interview a number of experts on the issue of aluminum prophylaxis. You can hear some of their comments in the film’s trailer, and read some 2017 news stories online at these links:
A traveling film festival goes to some interesting places that a big metropolitan festival does not. There’s culture in the rural, and expanded landscapes inform regional communities. Conversations on the Lake, an environmental documentary about the rural places of my childhood in towns bordering Lake Superior, has screened in several Northern Ontario venues and festivals, traveled through parts of India in Voices From the Waters, and in rural southern USA locations in the Ozark Shorts Film Festival, Ozark Mountains regional festival, USA.
These rural communities are participants in helping to shape critical environmental discourses around water, land, and community, within multi-vocal themes and expressions.
Conversations on the Lake is selected for the 10th Edition of the Voices from the Waters, International Travelling Film Festival on the 23rd to the 26th November 2016 in Bangalore, India. This festival is in association with the Bangalore Film Society, Christ University, Gandhi Bhavan, Chalanchitra Academy, FLEFF.
For many years I’ve recorded music for my films and sometimes for live performance projects, beginning with film performances at The Funnel. For a history of The Funnel collective and its artists, see Mike Hoolboom’s research project, which includes my interview and many others: http://mikehoolboom.com/?p=12552
Here is a sample collection of recordings: https://soundcloud.com/edie-steiner produced in collaboration with Canadian artists Chip Yarwood, Malcolm Lewis, Michael Phillip Wojewoda, and Australian composers Colin Offord and Daniel Rojas. Among my published works is the text for Colin Offord’s Bold New Strategies Suite (EMI International, 1999). Here is Colin in concert, performing Part 1, “I See A Journey”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hoZvrbGiIKo
Here is another book review I’ve written for The Goose – a publication by the Association for the Study of Literature, Environment, and Culture in Canada (ALECC). The text is Adrian J. Ivakhiv’s “Ecologies of the Moving Image: Cinema, Affect, Nature.” For serious film studies or ecological cinema studies readers, this book is an amazing resource. Read my review at: http://scholars.wlu.ca/thegoose/vol13/iss2/28
I have 2 films and a video projection in this festival taking place in Thunder Bay, Ontario, from September 3 – 7, 2014. Bay Street Film Festival
My new film Conversations on the Lake (2014), 44 minutes, presents at 2 PM on Sunday, September 7. My film Northland: Long Journey (2007) which was the opening film of the 2007 Bay Street Film Festival, is at 2 PM on Friday, September 5, as part of the festival’s 10th anniversary retrospective. My photo/video installation Views from Home: Facing North (2014) will be showing in the festival lounge. See it here: Views From Home on Vimeo
Images: Conversations on the Lake (2014)