REFRAME: SPOTLIGHTS ON REBECCA BAIRD & MARNIE PARRELL

Programmed by Milada Kovacova

Wednesday July 21, 2021 | 9:30pm | Hanover Drive-In Theatre, 033277 County Rd 28, Hanover ON

Image Credits: Beachsplit | Marnie Parrell; Flying Hawk and The Buffalo Nation | Rebecca Baird; White-Out | Rebecca Baird

Since I initially proposed ReFrame, I could never have foreseen that we would be viewing these gems during a pandemic. And more recently, there are the discoveries of the unmarked burial sites of Indian Residential School students. As a settler, I stand in mourning and solidarity with my Indigenous colleagues because every child matters.

Please join us for this unique viewing opportunity during these challenging times.

ReFrame spotlights the cinematic works of Rebecca Baird and Marnie Parrell, produced during the 1980s and 1990s, which crossed cultural barriers. The 1980s marked the final decade of the Iron Curtain: culminating with the Berlin Wall literally collapsing on the 9th of November 1989 and ending with the toppling of Soviet communism ending the Cold War. In the spotlights on these contemporary Indigenous women artists, the short small-gauge films of Rebecca Baird and Marnie Parrell move from diaristic works to a more generalized public reflection to formalist gems.

Reflecting her identity as a status Cree Métis artist, Baird’s artistic practice explores themes of Indigenous history, identity and culture. Early artworks have been included in benchmark exhibitions presented at galleries and museums nationally and internationally includingFrom Sea To Shining Sea,1987, The Power Plant and Indigena, 1992, Former Museum of Civilization. She received her Masters of Fine Art from OCAD University in 2013. Her iconographical content is not only visually, but also personally intrinsic to her work; Baird's films tend to be autobiographical, but it is her personal history as transmuted by the artist.

The films, though intense, have a dream-like quality to them that reflects Baird's desires to transform private concerns into a more generalized public display. She is sharing the ways of knowing and being in the world, specifically the cultural, social, and political structures made between Indigenous people and newcomers. The interconnection and respect between the plant world, the animal world and the human world are inherent in the tone of her films. Her visual imagination in these particular films seems particularly attuned to the topography of the American South-West and the symbolism and metaphors as expressed in the Indigenous art of her ancestors.

Born in Preeceville, Saskatchewan, Marnie Parrell is a Métis filmmaker, writer and artist. The first screening of her work was in 1991. Since then, her films and videos have been screened nationally and internationally, from Melbourne, Australia to Dawson City, Yukon, and she has received numerous grants and festival awards. Parrell’s films are hybrids – short, experimental, narratives and documentaries. Her early work was completed with small gauge and obsolete technologies such as regular and super 8 film and the Fisher-Price Pixelvision. A firm believer in DIY (Do-It-Yourself) ethic, Parrell enjoys the artistic and practical challenges of working with outdated or unintended technology.

Parrell completed a Bachelor of Arts degree at the University of Toronto (double major in Cinema Studies and Semiotics, minor in Women’s Studies) and an MFA at York University in film production where she wrote, directed and edited The Future. It’s so last week, a half-hour femsploitaction, sci-fi adventure. She attempts to reframe objects, scenes and stories in such a way as to make the familiar, or some aspect of it, seem new or strange, thus creating the potential for reinterpretation.

ReFrame spotlights the unique voices of Rebecca Baird and Marnie Parrell working during the specific time period of the Cold War and its demise. Many of these films have been brought out of the archives and look back to times that were intense in terms of international politics and our fear of a nuclear attack. ReFrame presents a survey of their engaging small-gauge works ranging from formalist to narrative as contemporary female Indigenous artists in the early part of their artistic practices and whose recognition was muted.


Marnie Parrell

Dinner | 1989 regular 8mm sound 4 min.

Shot over a Thanksgiving weekend this film reflects the aimless happy warmth of a late fall road trip. The layering of images through multiple exposure reinforces a where-are-we-now feeling further evidence in the soundtrack as it dials through pausing but never stopping for long.

Marnie Parrell

e clips | 1990 regular 8mm sound 4 min.

Using masks and multiple exposures this film examines life as revealed by tiny windows of light. A lunar eclipse was caught at the end of filming this piece and included as it is also created through shadows and light, in keeping with the theme of the piece.

Rebecca Baird

WHITE-OUT | 1981 super 8 sound 3 min.

Abstract cinema keyed by montage and material symbolism. Shots of US bombers are intercut with sequences of a body being wrapped and bound within clear plastic sheeting. The poetic monologue is gradually overwhelmed by a military man intoning a countdown. Is White-Out about sexual politics or about the Ultimate-Armageddon?

Marnie Parrell

Hitler and Me | 1990 regular 8mm sound 4 min.

This film is about anticipatory desire. It is a bit of a filmic joke as Hitler never appears but remains just off screen, just out of view. What the viewer does see is a stand-in for innocuous willing followers.

Rebecca Baird

YEA YEA | 1981 super 8 sound 13 min.

Romanticism for the '80s, this is an exploration of a relationship as it unfolds (or has unfolded). Combustion is created by merging five separate anecdotes into a single piece. Our couple travel to the American South-West, where they explore their relationship with each other using the interview format. She sees no one else but him. He, however, speaks in a manner that suggests she’s not the only one in his life. "I can't help myself" he explains. Girls plant crimson kisses on his body. One girl sings, "I hate you". Two others chorus, "Yea Yea" to him—including his film-maker/lover.

Marnie Parrell

Nova | 1992 regular 8mm sound 9 min. Starring Nadia Sistonen and Catharine Kaiser.

The multiple exposures are meant to draw and confuse the eye. The characters in this film inadvertently interact with themselves as the various layers vibrate against each other creating an effect that is more dreamlike than disturbing.

Marnie Parrell

She Talks to Angels | 1991 regular 8mm sound 9 min. Starring Nadia Sistonen and Linda Feesey.

Sadomasochism, cannibalism and murder—a love story gone wrong. When one partner is allowed total control the other is ultimately consumed and lost, literally and figuratively. The innocent brilliance of nature juxtaposed with sorry acts of human cruelty. Ain’t love grand?

Rebecca Baird

STAND BY YOUR PLANT | 1981 super 8 sound 7 min. Starring Andrew J Paterson.

Lynda is an aspiring country and western chanteuse who dusts her flat and stands by her man. But when she wants a little loving, George would rather do their income tax. Her dusting creates desires in George for (a) more bathing, (b) David Bowie and (c) Lynda's brother?

Rebecca Baird

Beachsplit | 2016 super 8 sound 3 min.

While seeing images of buffalo raised in captivity, we hear from Kenny King, an Ojibway man from Mississauga New Credit First Nation telling us a little about himself, his story raising buffalo and a crop circle that mysteriously appeared in his buffalo compound.



Film Maker Bios

Marnie Parrell

Born in Preecevill, Saskatchewan, Marnie Parrell is a Métis filmmaker, writer, artist and maker. The first screening of her work was in 1991. Since then her films and videos have been screened both nationally and internationally and she has received grants and festival awards (see attached list). Parrell’s films are hybrids - short, experimental, narratives and documentaries. Her early work was completed with small gauge and obsolete technologies such as regular and super 8 film and the Fisher Price Pixelvision. She also has an interest in wearable electronics and found objects/art. She completed a Bachelor of Arts degree at the University of Toronto (double major in Cinema Studies and Semiotics, minor in Women’s Studies) and an MFA at York University in film production where she wrote, directed and edited The Future. It’s so last week, a half hour femsploitaction sci-fi adventure. For more information, and to view examples of her work please go to marnieparrell.com. Parrell’s films are available through Vtape.

Rebecca Baird

Rebecca Baird’s films represent part of an oeuve that includes painting and environmental installations. Baird’s focus is on post-modern utilization of interior space. Her work is quirky and humourous- for instance, she built a nine foot Cactus out of Rice Crispies for a Desert Environment. She makes us reconsider the meanings of common materials by relocating them in oddly informed spaces. Some of her painted backdrops are on permanent display at the Rivoli and the Queen Mother Café. Other temporary exhibits at the Funnel Gallery and the ChromaLiving Show have been favorably reviewed by the Toronto Globe and Mail and by Vanguard magazine.

In her films Ms. Baird uses painted, coloured back drops, fast editing and hand held camera work in a manner which evokes her environmental constructions. Travel and romance are key themes in Baird’s work. Her visual imagination seems particularly attuned to the topography of the American South-West. As Baird is part North American in ancestry, this iconographical concern is not only visually, but personal, intrinsic to her work. Baird’s films tend to be autobiographical, but is personal history as transmuted by an artist. The films, though intense, have a dream-like quality to them that reflects Baird’s desires to transform private concerns into a more generalized public display. - Circa 1994, Michaelle McLean Director/Programmer, the Funnel, 1982 -84