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Artistic battle about collaboration, not combat

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 23/5/2015 (1739 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

It's no secret the connection between film and music has always been a strong one, and for the fifth year in a row, Winnipeg bands and filmmakers are embracing that concept at Bands vs. Filmmakers V — the much-anticipated annual fundraiser for Cinematheque.

The idea of the concert/screening is this: five filmmakers are each paired up with a band. The filmmaker is instructed to create a 15- to 20-minute piece that will be shown at the live event tonight, and the bands' jobs are to provide a live soundtrack for the films.

Each filmmaker/band pair can work in whatever way is best for them — some take the collaborative aspect to heart, while others prefer to work separately but connect at key points in the process. What results is a group of unique pieces that exist for one night only.

The Winnipeg Film Group, which runs Cinematheque, hosted the first event in partnership with the West End Cultural Centre in 2011. A conversation between Weakerthans frontman John K. Samson and Cinematheque programmer Dave Barber prompted the initial idea to have musicians help raise funds for the theatre. The filmmaking aspect was added soon after.

The event was a huge success and has since become something of a cherished tradition as it provides a rare opportunity for Winnipeg's booming music and film scenes to come together to support a common cause.

On the docket this time are bands and filmmakers Barber has been trying to involve for years. Internationally acclaimed filmmaker Deco Dawson said he and his longtime friends and collaborators in Attica Riots have never been available to participate until this year due to other commitments. But when it was discovered both he and the band would be free, there was no other option than to say yes.

"We have known each other for a long time, and part of me wants to compete with them and say, 'No, my images are going to be more fascinating than you guys on stage!' But at the same time, I think I have some very complimentary things I could do," Dawson says.

"We don't know what the other person is going to do, but we know that it's going to be pretty crazy."

Joining Dawson on the filmmakers side are Freya Olafson, Gwen Trutnau, Forrest McGregor and Ryan Simmons, who are partnered with musicians Blunderspublik, Pip Skid, Basic Nature and Rob Crooks, respectively.

From left, Anders Erickson (Attica Riots), Rob Crooks, Bobby Desjarlais (Attica Riots), Kyle Erickson (Attica Riots) and Lyzie Burt (Basic Nature) are ready to duke it out.


From left, Anders Erickson (Attica Riots), Rob Crooks, Bobby Desjarlais (Attica Riots), Kyle Erickson (Attica Riots) and Lyzie Burt (Basic Nature) are ready to duke it out.

Though the name of the event implies there's a battle to be had, that couldn't be further from the truth. Both sets of artists seem happy to blur their genre lines and delve into an artistic expression they may not be familiar with.

"I relish the opportunities in which you get paired with someone you might not have initiated working with. It allows for some different kinds of discoveries to come up through the process," says Olafson, a predominantly dance-and-movement artist who is working with electro-pop whiz Blunderspublik (a.k.a. Curtis Walker). She is looking forward to exhibiting her work in a new way.

Blunderspublik is attempting something different, too: a piece with four movements is being created based on footage of Olafson.

"It's different to compose for a performance. I usually just write a song and worry about playing it after, but because I'm writing to be on a stage, I'm also kind of thinking about what fun things I can do for each different section to keep the audience entertained," Walker says.

The two have chosen to work more independently, saying it's been more of a cyber-collaboration relying on email to keep things on track.

Filmmaker Trutnau has taken a more hands-on approach to working with her musical partner, hip-hop artist Pip Skid. They shot a lot of footage together and she was directly inspired by his new material on the album Eat Crow.

"It's a food-based album and my visuals are mirroring that in this weird food nightmare kind of way, which has been really fun," she says.

Food nightmares aside, Barber says the night is a "very loose, fun event," that over the years has brought in thousands of much-needed dollars for Cinematheque, mostly through generous spending at the event's silent auction. That money, Barber said, is essential to keep the small theatre running.

"People don't realize it, but we can't survive on just the box office and government grants alone. But we're in a day and age with Netflix and DVDs, so to run an independent theatre is a very tough thing to do," he says.

"This event is an invaluable support to us."


Erin Lebar

Erin Lebar
Multimedia producer

Erin Lebar is a multimedia producer who spends most of her time writing music- and culture-related stories for the Arts & Life section. She also co-hosts the Winnipeg Free Press's weekly pop-culture podcast, Bury the Lede.

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