Anthology Film Archives


May 20 – May 26

Joyce Wieland is one of the most important Canadian artists and filmmakers of the second half of the 20th century, but her work has not been showcased in its entirety in New York City for many years. Anthology aims to redress that oversight with this comprehensive retrospective, which brings together virtually all of her pioneering short and feature films.

Wieland began making films in Toronto in the 1950s at the animation studio, Graphic Associates, which had been co-founded by George Dunning, and where she worked alongside other artists including the young Michael Snow. Wieland and Snow soon married and moved to New York City in 1962, becoming integral parts of the experimental film and art scenes of the time, and producing some of the key filmic works of the era, such as Snow’s NEW YORK EYE AND EAR CONTROL (1964), WAVELENGTH (1967), and <---> (BACK AND FORTH) (1969), and Wieland’s CAT FOOD (1967), RAT LIFE AND DIET IN NORTH AMERICA (1968), and REASON OVER PASSION (1969).

Her sojourn in the U.S. awakened a deep sense of Canadian national identity, and following her split with Snow and her return to Canada in 1971, this became increasingly reflected in her work, culminating in films like PIERRE VALLIÈRES (1972) and her ambitious narrative feature, THE FAR SHORE (1976). The negative reception afforded that last film brought her cinematic career largely to a close (though she did collaborate with Hollis Frampton in 1984 on A AND B IN ONTARIO, and in 1986 completed a film she had shot earlier, BIRDS AT SUNRISE). She remained prolific and widely celebrated as an artist, however – working largely in the realms of collage, assemblage, and quilt-making – until her death in 1998.

“[Wieland’s] early celebrations of female sexuality, women’s domestic environment and her challenges to patriarchal representations of Canadian national identity made her an innovator in various media. As a filmmaker, her distinctive use of extreme close-ups, disjunctive editing, repetition, irony and text extended the medium’s expressive possibilities. From the experimental films made during her New York years in the mid to late 1960s…to the political documentaries completed after her return to Canada in 1971, PIERRE VALLIÈRES and SOLIDARITY, and the release of her theatrical feature in 1975, THE FAR SHORE, her work has been commended by writers representing the critical spectrum. Wieland has been acclaimed as an underground filmmaker, a political activist, a formalist, a Canadian nationalist, a postmodernist and a radical feminist. While a testament to the films’ complexity, richness and ongoing appeal, Wieland resisted this type of theoretical labeling; she resented its restrictive influence and failure to acknowledge the personal impetus for the work.” –Kathryn Elder, THE FILMS OF JOYCE WIELAND

“Joyce Wieland makes a very special kind of film. The same sense of humor, tenderness and feeling for the more humble details of life that is present in her paintings and plastic constructions are given further dimensions in her films. There is somewhat of a sense of sadness and nostalgia in all her work…a sense of lost innocence.” –Robert Cowan, TAKE ONE

Filmmaker, scholar, and curator Kay Armatage, who directed ARTIST ON FIRE: THE WORK OF JOYCE WIELAND (1987), and has written extensively on Canadian cinema and on Wieland’s work in particular, will be here in person during the retrospective to introduce selected screenings!

This retrospective is co-presented with the Consulate General of Canada in New York, and Canada Now ( Special thanks to Catherine Scheinman (Consulate General of Canada in New York); Teresa Di Cairano, Jacqueline Geday & Susie Monette (Canada Now); Kay Armatage; Kathryn Elder; Jesse Brossoit (CFMDC); and MM Serra (Film-Makers’ Coop).


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