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Video Play: An Improvised Film Series

Ed Video & IICSI present Video Play: An Improvised Film Series

Video Play: An Improvised Film Series brings together filmmakers from the International Institute for Critical Studies in Improvisation and Ed Video’s Play Proposition II for three evenings of screenings and discussion on film/video and improvisation. The series addresses both films on improvisational arts-based practices and improvisation in the filmmaking process.

All events in the Improvised Video Series are FREE, and open to everyone.

Time: 7-9pm
Place: Silence Guelph (46 Essex St.)

The screenings will be followed by a talkback and discussion.


Night One: Thursday, April 16, 2015

  • Mauricio Martinez, Just Play: A History of Improvised Music in Toronto (40 min)
  • Kimber Sider, Playing in Silence (10 min)
  • Moderated by Angus McLellan

In Just Play: A History of Improvised Music in Toronto Mauricio Martinez weaves together interviews and archival photographs to detail the history of Toronto’s improvised music scene from its beginnings to the present day. Martinez approaches the topic as a literary critic, using textual cues to frame a narrative that occupies an ambiguous zone at the nexus of documentary history, poesis, and mythopoesis. The film’s use of textual framing devices blurs the distinction between fact and metaphor, lending the history an epic quality—lives and stories told are highly individual yet lend themselves to analysis of theme and archetype. In Just Play, Martinez consciously works with the tension between what is said and unsaid in interview, what is present and absent in history, in the service of an archival poetics that opens something akin to a free improvisation of historical interpretation.

Mauricio Martinez is a Hamilton-based scholar, filmmaker, and writing instructor with a PhD in Literary/Theatre Studies in English from the University of Guelph. Since 2010, Martinez has produced a number of video projects for ICASP/IISCI beginning with a creative documentary about the project, The Improvising Eye (2010), and Ikons (2011), a video companion to the art installation by Eric Metcalfe and George Lewis. Martinez’s audiovisual work attempts to expose formalist assumptions about the commercial, the avant-garde, and the student through the cultivation of an authenticity and propriety inspired by free improvisation. His camera is preoccupied with banal movement and transit across landscape and through public space, using visual distortion to make explicit otherwise unstated ways in which consciousness constructs audiovisual perception.

In Playing in Silence filmmaker Kimber Sider invites five musicians and five horses to meet and attempt to collaborate on improvisational performances that speaks in both sound and silence. What happens when musicians are invited to improvise with horses in a free and neutral space? How are notions of sound, silence, collaboration and difference challenged and influenced when the improvisation is meant to work across species lines and with a language divide? These are the questions that is at the heart of the documentary project Playing in Silence. Resonance is a concept that speaks to both musical experience and equine experience. Through bringing together experts in the fields of physical resonance (horses) and musical resonance (musicians) perhaps a new understanding of combined resonance can be struck, opening up a space of play and discovery for both individuals involved. Two short films from this project will be screened, as Playing in Silence is an on-going project.

Kimber Sider is a Guelph-based filmmaker, theatre practitioner, equestrian and academic working towards a PhD in Theatre Studies at the University of Guelph. Sider has been working for the International Institute for Critical Studies in Improvisation (IICSI/ICASP) since 2013 producing short documentary projects. Sider’s filmmaking style comes from a love of storytelling, creating an intimate environment that showcases the personal experience. Sider’s most notable film is her 2010 CBC documentary Chasing Canada, which follows her 2008 horseback ride across Canada with her horse, Katrina. Chasing Canada can be viewed for free at www.drawdeprod.com.


Night Two: Thursday, April 23, 2015

  • Ed Video: Play Proposition II (Carlomagno Alvarado, Sandy Clipsham, Eliza Crosland, Mary Lalonde, Angus McLellan, Alberta Nye)

Last fall, Ed Video took note of the trend that the video and filmmakers that composed our membership had become much too serious in their work. Every shot and every edit were steps toward a finished project, which left very little room for play, experimentation, and the growth that can result from both.

Ed Video put forth a proposition to our membership: engage in play for twelve weeks. We challenged anyone interested to create a new video each week based on a series of concepts and technical themes, purely for the sake of exploring new ways of working and further developing their craft. We encouraged the creators to temporarily abandon their pursuit of digital perfection and create fearlessly. The results were often innovative, unique, and of course, playful.

Six of the participants of the Play Proposition will share a selection of the videos from the project and share their thoughts on creating new works inside this model.


Night Three: Thursday, April 30, 2015

  • Nicholas Loess & Joe Sorbara, Start Making Noises Now (90 min)
  • Moderated by Kimber Sider

Start Making Noises Now is an experimental documentary film about free improvised music in Toronto. In 2012, with the help of the Improvisation, Community, and Social Practice research project, Nicholas Loess and Joe Sorbara began gathering upwards of 60 hours of interview and performance footage featuring many of the city's creative improvising musicians. They then got to work constructing a film that would speak to the beauty and complexity of improvised music-making and the diverse ecology of approaches at play in an active community of improvisers. Start Making Noises Now looks at and listens to many of the struggles that make and sustain free improvised music in Toronto. The film asserts both the musicality of human speech and conversation and the dialogical nature of an often cacophonous music. Its lens is as much aural as it is visual. It asks you to listen as much as it asks you to watch. It also asks you to consider, to question, to laugh, to enjoy. And it asks you to improvise.

Nicholas Loess is a Guelph-based video artist and improvisation scholar. He is a PhD candidate in the School of English and Theatre Studies at the University of Guelph where he is exploring the creative linkages between experimental film and improvisation. His "ultra-short" one-minute silent film, 24Progressive, won first prize at the Toronto Urban Film Festival in 2012.

Joe Sorbara is a drummer and percussionist living and making music in Toronto. An active member of Toronto's creative music scene, he is equally at home playing jazz standards, free improvised music, punk rock, and chamber music--but he prefers to play them all at the same time. As an educator, Sorbara works with young musicians through the School of Fine Arts at the University of Guelph and through the Regent Park School of Music in Toronto. He is also a member of the Somewhere There Collective, the director of the long-running Leftover Daylight Series, and was a founding board member of the Association of Improvising Musicians Toronto.

Listening itself, an improvisative act engaged in by everyone, announces a practice of active engagement with the world, where we sift, interpret, store and forget, in parallel with action and fundamentally articulated with it ("Mobilitas Animi" 113).

– George E. Lewis