Dailies: September 25, 2013

Bonsoir, Québec! Et bonsoir, tout le monde!

We arrived today in community number ten of the Canadian Frame(lines) cross-country voyage: Stanbridge East, QC (or PQ, if you’re old school). This village, with a population of around 900 residents, is situated just a few kilometres north of the United States border in Quebec’s Eastern Townships region (about an hour or so southeast of Montreal). I’m sure there will be much to report in the coming days about our first time actually staying in Quebec as well as about how freaking beautiful this part of the world is in fall, but as of yet we have not wrapped up Nova Scotia!

A fair bit of last week was spent arranging to process the films made in Seaforth. Usually we try to get underway with the processing by at least the weekend between our seminar workshop and the final screening, but I’ve been pushing our reversal bleach pretty hard and it has been losing its effectiveness. R9 bleach is an older chemical combination for processing black and white reversal film that is not widely available commercially, so we have to make it ourselves. And I placed an order at a chemical supply company in Halifax only to find out that they had misheard my order–potassium chromate is not the same as potassium dichromate. Fortunately, our good friend Chris Brabant was able to help us source enough to get us well out of the woods, and we began processing the Seaforth films a few days before the screening.

As if they hadn’t done enough, too, our hosts Sarah and Jeff let us turn their laundry room into a darkroom so we were once again able to get out of the bus lab. We had some very enthusiastic participants who came down to process their films, and they all turned out quite well! On Saturday night we set up at the Seaforth Community Hall for our screening. As always, we never know what to expect (especially since we had been warned that another competing event was happening that night), but by ten past seven, we had to put out more chairs. It was a fabulous screening with a receptive audience and a good mix of films (the earlier sunsets make it easier to screen in venues with windows, too).

We have never been very restrictive about defining communities. For one thing, we want to have as many people participate as possible, and for another, it doesn’t make sense for us as outsiders to come into a place and arbitrarily group people based on municipal guidelines to which they themselves do not adhere. We’ve often said that anyone for whom the community is important can join. In Seaforth, this principle was especially visible as we had participants from Dartmouth and Halifax who consider the Chezzetcook Inlet to be a big part of their lives and showed off the co-mingling of those two areas in their films.

On Monday, we gave a little talk at Saint Mary’s University courtesy of media studies professor Jen VanderBurgh, who attended our info session. Jen has been working on a VHS mashup film called “Home Bodies”, which is composed of different clips from Halfix-sources VHS tapes. Together, we talked about the significance of older and obsolete media formats and the necessity of preserving access to them, as well as waxing a little philosophical about the inherent value of film as opposed to digital video. We recorded the talk and we hope to make that available to you soon!

As always, it was very hard for us to leave Nova Scotia. We made some excellent friends in Seaforth and Halifax, and I have no doubt that we will be back someday. For now, it is onward and westward!

Yours,

Ryder

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