Oppression: The Roots of Madness

  • A Film & Video Exploration
  • Sunday, November 19, 4 pm
  • @ Workman Theatre Project, 1001 Queen St. West

Part of Fall 2000

Guest-curated by Judy Koch (In Person)

Pleasure Dome is proud to present within the Rendezvous with Madness Film Festival, a collection of experimental videos that explore the roots of “madness.” Guest curated by Toronto video artist and social activist Judy Koch, this programme brings together a wide range of works by survivors, activists and artists. “Some of the works in this programme are humorous and some dramatic. A number of videos do not contain any dialogue but the music and visual effects evoke states of mental illness. All of these video works are an attempt to show through words and images how oppressed people are often driven to extreme emotional responses by a system they can’t easily adapt to. There have been very few efforts by the mainstream media to accurately portray mental illness and it’s origins from the perspective of the people involved. These videos are important because they try to break down the stereotypes of what “mad” people really are.”


The Wash: A Cleaning Story, Eve Sandler, 1999, 9:00 min., video, USA
The Wash closely studies the landscapes of the artist’s body and memory for scars and survival of childhood sexual abuse. A visually arresting inquiry into female relationships and secrets within the artist’s own African-American family. By interweaving her own voiceover narration with excerpts from an oral history she recorded before her grandmother’s death, Sandler creates an intergenerational dialogue in which she “tells” her story to Grandmother Mary, in what is ultimately a cleansing ritual.

An Bonnan Bui, Maria Murray, Padraig O’Neil & Edith Pieperhoff, 1995, 9:20 min., video, Ireland
Graphic non-verbal description of a person facing alienation, loneliness and alcoholism. Produced for Irish television with traditional music soundtrack.

Mothers of Me, Alexandra Grimanis, 1999, 15:00 min., 16mm, colour, Canada
A film examining how life during the depression of the 1930s affected women in the filmmaker’s family. With fear for her own mental health as the backdrop, she explores the history of suicide and mental illness among women in her family.

Hypochondria, Liz Rosch, 1994, 4:30 min., video, Canada
The visual effects and music of this experimental video suggest madness. The patient’s frustration when the doctor finds nothing wrong, in spite of the long list of symptoms and the sophisticated technology of CAT scans, can be too much for anyone.

The Bus Stops Here, Julie Zando, 1990, 27:00 min., video, USA
Judith is depressed and Anna is repressed. A drama featuring two sisters unable to exert any control over their lives, with each responding in familiar yet completely different ways. Does the role women are slotted into by society cause depression?

You Are What You (Don’t) Eat, Elizabeth Brandeis & Craig Morrison, 1994, 14:10 min., video, Canada
Shows the “mad” side of women with eating disorders. A look at the oppressive cycle created by marketing for consumption and society’s pressure to stay thin.

Stargaze, Jason McBride, 1998, 12:00 min., 16 mm, b&w, Canada
Aversion therapy using electroshock is contrasted with stargazing, fantasies of escape to another world. A young homosexual man is coerced by his family into receiving “treatment” in the hope that he can stop his gay tendencies. But that was a long time ago…

i, Barbara Lattanzi, 1988, 6:00 min., video, USA
Makes fun of the language of madness with wry humour. An absurdist abstraction of textbook symptoms is eloquently contrasted with melodramatic film score music.

The Man from Venus, James Diamond, 1999, 4:00 min., video, Canada
Homelessness, gender dysphoria and alienation swirl together in this super 8 based work. The narrator’s sense of entrapment within his own body is paralleled with the trapping of the “natural” earth within manmade structure.

Judy Koch is a videomaker – Chronicles of Learning Disabled People (1998), Employment Equity: The Challenge (1999), Between the Cracks: Poverty (1999) – radio journalist (1990-1996 Programmer CKLN, 1997 – present host CIUT “Speaking OUT,” 1995-1996 worker Radio Access Network) and social activist (Bain TV 1999 – present, co-chair Disabled Women’s Network, Toronto, co-chair Income Maintenance Group, treasurer Alliance for Employment Equity, board member Disabled People for Employment).

Special thanks to Lisa Brown and Stephen Lan of Rendezvous with Madness for their support.

Rendezvous with Madness Film Festival

Rendezvous with Madness Film Festival