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TIFF Cinematheque: Johnathan Schwartz: The Skies Can't Keep Their Secrets

Tonight at TIFF Lightbox, a young American filmmaker brings his experimental work to showcase to art and film enthusiasts, with six shorts that feature the sounds and sights of ordinary life. His work is rightly described as lyrical, with the sounds of the everyday layered atop striking visuals, pacing the 16mm films of people, animals, places, and artwork.

The entire collection, running just over an hour long, is meant to convey a story, with the films put into an exact position to best enhance the journey. Among the set are a pair of works, his 33 1/3 Series, with Side A beginning the sequence, and Side B placed fifth, setting up a finally epilog of sorts. Both were shot between 2005 and 2010, with a collection of shots of everyday life, vignettes, which feel more like visual songs more than anything else.

In between are three very different but intriguing works. Nothing is Over Nothing feels the situation of foreign traveler, exploring the world and being exposed to culture, with many Jewish overtones throughout. Happy Birthday focuses on youth, with kids taking centre stage, celebrating and running about in the wilderness, playing on notions of life and death. A Preface of Red concludes the middle trio, a loud, challenging piece that should make the audience just a bit more thoughtful and unnerved.

The showcase finishes with the Canadian premier of Schwartz’s newest piece, a 2012 5-minute short called If The War Continues¸ a piece that takes place on a ski slope featuring various jumpers and onlookers.

The artistic pieces are meant to make you think, and tonight’s event will go far in the way of explanation and introspection as Mr. Schwartz himself will be in attendance for a discussion following the film. Dedicated and talented, with a nod to the past in his works, Mr. Schwartz looks to keep crafting his work for some time to come.


Tristan likes movies.