Praise! Recent Work by Barbara Sternberg


“With more than thirty years of activity in film, video and other arts behind her, Barbara Sternberg has created one of the largest and most distinctive bodies of work in Canadian experimental film. Informed by feminist thought and literature (particularly Gertrude Stein and Virginia Woolf), the tradition of the personal film, and an intense engagement with the everyday, Sternberg’s films draw a world of feeling and meaning from quotidian images. As she has stated in an interview, her films tend to “work through an accumulation of the everyday, more through a glance than a look, less a controlling gaze than an observational one.” Since the completion of a series of large-scale works in the mid to late Nineties, her practice has moved away from  language and extended themes to a more intense moment-to-moment engagement in filming and editing. This survey of three recent films and one video includes Burning, a rapid, rhythmic montage that evokes the brevity of life, and Surfacing, a revival of concerns for repetition and variation that have been important throughout her films. Also, two world premieres: Tabula Rasa, which juxtaposes iconic images of the Virgin Mary—eternally young, eternally welcoming, eternally weeping—with medical diagnoses and images of the filmmaker’s own aging flesh; and Praise, a buoyant poem in black and white. Barbara Sternberg will introduce tonight’s program.” (Cinematheque Ontario program notes, Feb. 15, 2006)