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CONVENIENTLY nestled in the Artspace building on the corner of Bannatyne and Arthur, Cinematheque is at ground zero of the Winnipeg Fringe Festival, even if it ceased being an official fringe venue a couple of years ago.

But the theatre becomes a fringe venue

again, after a fashion, starting tonight with

the Fringe Actors Film Festival, a showcase

of miscellaneous short films featuring local

actors appearing elsewhere -- in the flesh

-- in various fringe venues.

If it seems as if Cinematheque is simply

cashing in on fringe fever, be assured at

least one of the short films in the

program, Shawna Dempsey and

Lorri Millan's 1997 video

Speck: It's So Illogical, is a

Star Trek-inspired piece that

has its origins in the fringe

festival, according to its writerstar

Sharon Bajer.

The work was written for

the annual fringe event in the

mid-'90s called The Women's

Cabaret, says Bajer, who

plays a bipolar Vulcan female

called "Speck" in the film. In

1996, the assigned theme of

the cabaret was "the forgotten

sister."

"I thought, 'What if Spock

had a sister, and she was forgotten

and everything she did was

illogical?'" Bajer says.

Bajer had planned to write an entire

fringe show around this invention,

and created the video as its centrepiece

in collaboration with Dempsey, Millan

and composer

Eve Rice

(who wrote

a fiendishly

catchy tune

for the work).

But ultimately,

the video was

the only surviving

remnant of

that scheme, although

Bajer says the video has

screened in some odd places, including farflung

sci-fi conventions.

While the film demonstrates Bajer's

considerable stage presence, she stays offstage

at this year's fringe to direct Joseph

Aragon's well-received Bloodless: The Trial

of Burke and Hare at Venue 9.

Far more visible (in every sense of the

word) on the fringe stage is actress Talia

Pura, on view as the legendary vamp in

Mata Hari; Eroticism and Espionage at

Venue 4 and as the sour ghost of a bootlegger

in Prairie Spirits at Venue 8. Pura

scores a fringe trifecta with the debut of

her self-directed short film The Strawberry

Confession, in which she plays a woman

whose daily trip to the confessional (usually

for the most trivial of sins) yields a big surprise

for the sleepy priest (Wayne Nicklas)

obliged to listen.

Pura says she hadn't expected to appear

in Prairie Spirits, the sequel to the 2007

fringe play The Good Daughter, as her character

died in that one.

"I found out I was back and I hadn't expected

it," she says. Fortunately, Pura didn't

have any scheduling problems when Cinematheque

programmer Dave Barber asked

he if she would put The Strawberry Confession

on the film program. Since the story

started out as monologue from a past fringe

production, it only seemed appropriate.

And if Pura risks too much visibility,

well, it wasn't a problem for the actress who

appeared as a nude art school model a few

fringes ago. Pura takes challenges as they

come, whether onstage or onscreen.

"In this community, you do what you have

to do to feed the creative spirit, and you

have to do all sorts of things," she says.

Acting Up a Storm: Fringe Actors Film

Festival, screens at 9 p.m. Wednesday and

Thursday, 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and

at 7 p.m. next Wednesday, July 29.

randall.king@freepress.mb.ca

 

Also on

the program:

"ö F*** It!: Regular fringe player Arlea Ashcroft,

who helped create the Headless Woman exhibit in

Market Square (and who, word on the street suggests,

may herself portray the show's headless heroine) stars as

a single woman who redefines phone sex in this provocative

Winnipeg Film Group work from 2000.

"ö The Director's Cut: Frequent fringe contributor Mike

Bell stars as a pompous film director forced to take violent

action against his shallow, pretty-boy leading man in this

2005 comedy by Jason Lapeyre.

"ö Cowards Bend the Knee: Guy Maddin's film stars

Darcy Fehr (on view in Under the Glacier at Venue 1)

as ... Guy Maddin, in an autobiographical tale

distorted through the lens of Maddin's

melodramatic style. The feature screens one

night only on Sunday at 7 p.m,

 

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 22, 2009 C7

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