May 1, 2019 – Toronto – National Film Board of Canada
In 1990, the National Film Board of Canada (NFB) made waves with Five Feminist Minutes, a series of short films produced by the trailblazing Studio D, the world’s first all-woman production unit. Now, as the NFB marks its 80th anniversary, four directors have picked up the thread with Five Feminist Minutes 2019.
Premiering online May 1 at NFB.ca, Five Feminist Minutes 2019 features new works by Ann Marie Fleming, Alexandra Lazarowich and Joyce Wong, as well as director Deanne Foley and screenwriter Mary Walsh—alongside the classic shorts that inspired them.
All eight short works are also being featured at the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival, as part of a special Redux program tribute to pioneering women’s filmmaking at the NFB.
Joyce Wong’s Camera Test looks at what gets lost when female voices are stymied during the creative process. Pairing intimate interviews with absurdist re-enactments, Wong crafts a tartly subversive look at patriarchy and racism in the film industry. Produced by Justine Pimlott for the NFB’s Ontario Studio in Toronto, Camera Test was inspired by Cathy Quinn and Frances Leeming’s The Untilled Story, a mischievous feminist riff on vintage NFB instructional films in which the filmmakers enlist a kaleidoscope of petals in their resistance against the patriarchy.
In Lake, Cree director Alexandra Lazarowich riffs off classic verité cinema to craft a contemporary portrait of Métis women net-fishing in Northern Alberta. Executive produced by David Christensen for the NFB’s North West Studio in Edmonton, this short film is inspired by Minqon Minqon: Wosqotomn Elsonwagon (Shirley Bear: Reclaiming the Balance of Power), Catherine Martin’s profile of Wolastoqiyik/Malecite artist Shirley Bear, known as Minqon Minqon (Rainbow Rainbow), who defies repressive colonial narratives with inspiring imagery of Indigenous womanhood.
One of the original Five Feminist Minutes filmmakers, Vancouver’s Ann Marie Fleming, is back with Question Period, in which a group of recently settled Syrian refugee women have questions about life in their new home. Executive produced by Shirley Vercruysse for the BC and Yukon Studio in Vancouver, the film is inspired by Fleming’s own New Shoes: An Interview in Exactly Five Minutes, which combines astonishing narrative shorthand with heightened visual poetics to trace the trajectory of a love affair gone bad.
In Radical, Deanne Foley profiles fellow Newfoundlander Mary Walsh, the Great Warrior Queen of Canadian comedy, musing on time wasted as an object of desire and time well spent as the fearless agent of her own destiny. Written by Walsh and produced by Annette Clarke for the Quebec and Atlantic Studio in St. John’s, the film is inspired by Come into My Parlour by fellow Newfoundland filmmaker Mary Lewis, who joyously reclaims “spinsterhood” from its sexist implications in this animated homage to the undauntable great aunt who provided her first driving lesson.
Electronic Press Kit | Images, trailer, synopses: Five Feminist Minutes
Five Feminist Minutes – 1990 short-film series
Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival