THE HEALING POWER OF STORYTELLING: A Caribbean Tale

The CaribbeanTales Film Festival is “Canada’s one and only forum showcasing the best of Caribbean cinema from around the world.” (cited www.caribbeantales-events.com) With an extensive background in the film industry founder Frances-Anne Solomon curated an interesting and relevant selection for the festival hosted at Harbourfront Centre, presently entering its fifth year.

With ubiquitous technology that allows for multi-platform and transmedia productions the storyteller can now connect to his or her audience through a plethora of portals. It pays for film festivals to take notice of this important shift. Including web series as part of the programming is paramount so Mixed Bag Mag was excited to see that the vision was there with CaribbeanTales.

Joyce & Herman: In Stereo, produced by Neunie Flicks, is part of an animated web series, In Stereo, that is edgy with a sweet side. Despite being cartoons the characters have dimension, feel real and are familiar. Joyce is the hhh-auntie-next-door and it’s all about the tea time talk!

With dry Brit wit and Island insight In Stereo is intelligent in the way that it exposes the deeper issues of class and race that lie just underneath the polite facades.

Another web series on the list was Santana – “innovative puppet film shorts that reflect the diversity of the Caribbean Diaspora.” (cited www.lexo.tv) Santana seems like Trinidad’s answer to South Park, politically irreverent with characters that resolve their tensions with shot guns and rude back talk. The story lines are reduced to fuss n’ fight scenarios. Diversity yes – the puppets represent all shades of the Caribbean mix – but this series does little to push for change and perhaps that is not the point.

But as superficial as Santana is other screenings like Chinee Girl and Silent Music dig deep through the layers of stereotypes and silence.  Natalie Wei and Melissa Gomez are two amazing young female filmmakers that not only technically understand their craft, they understand the transformational power of narrative.

As the house lights came up on Saturday night after the screening of Silent Music, Frances-Anne Solomon’s reaction of being overcome with emotion and without words was an expression of the importance of CaribbeanTales. When she located her voice again she poignantly pointed out that it is films like Melissa Gomez’ that eloquently speak to the “healing power of storytelling.”

Mixed Bag Mag couldn’t agree more!


From left to right: Ryan Singh of “Mr. Crab”, Natalie Wei of “Chinee Girl”, Frances-Anne Solomon of CaribbeanTales, Melissa Gomez of “Silent Music”


Natalie Wei of “Chinee Girl” and Melissa Gomez of “Silent Music”

Photography by Leah Snyder for Mixed Bag Mag.

PLANET INDIGENOUS @ HARBOURFRONT: Sunday by the Lake

First Nations dancers performing at Harbourfront's Planet Indigenus Festival

The weekend wrapup for Summerworks & Planet IndigenUS!

The rain never came this weekend and it was a good thing as MIXED BAG MAG was all over the city! Saturday was www.summerworks.ca and Waawaate Fobister’s “Medicine Boy” along with www.queenwestmusicfest.com over at Trinity Bellwoods Park.

Figuring we would pay for the forecasted rain that never came on Saturday, it was a welcome surprise when Sunday turned out to be as stunning as the day before. With the combination of stellar weather and the closing of Planet IndigenUS, Harbourfront was packed out. MIXED BAG MAG attended Canadian-Mexican artist Rodrigo Marti’s tour of the PowerPlant’s current exhibit “ Tools for Conviviality” then headed over to take in 3 exhibits at Harbourfront Centre –  “Not So Fast | NSF”, “BORN AGAIN: Repurposed City”, and ”This We Know” an exhibition of recent work by the students in the Aboriginal Visual Culture Program at OCAD U.

Next it was all about relaxing – listening to music performed by Aboriginal artists with the backdrop of the lake, chatting with tourists then drinking fresh coconut water that made one feel like a tourist languishing somewhere in a more tropical locale rather than Lake Ontario!  Planet IndigenUS ‘s finale was First Nations dancers wrapping up the festival by getting the crowd engaged in a round dance that shifted happily into something not so circular but nonetheless organic and full of life.

But that was not the final moment for MIXED BAG MAG. Sunday ended later on that evening with another www.summerworks.ca  play  – “FRANCE or the Niqab” at Theatre Passe Muraille.

This is what MIXED BAG MAG loves about Toronto – you can experience the world in a weekend!

First Nations dancers performing at Harbourfront's Planet Indigenus Festival
First Nations dancers performing at Harbourfront's Planet Indigenus Festival
First Nations dancers performing at Harbourfront's Planet Indigenus Festival
First Nations dancers performing at Harbourfront's Planet Indigenus Festival
First Nations dancers performing at Harbourfront's Planet Indigenus Festival
First Nations dancers performing at Harbourfront's Planet Indigenus Festival
First Nations dancers performing at Harbourfront's Planet Indigenus Festival
Planet Indigenus Logo

Photography by Leah Snyder

FASHIONALITY: An Afternoon at the McMichael


Top: Farheen HaQ’s “Endless Tether” Bottom: Dana Claxton’s “On the Red Road”

“Not strictly about fashion, the exhibition explores the ways in which the subjectivities and identities of those living in Canada are expressed, deconstructed, and reconfigured, while raising some intriguing questions about the embodied Canadian subject.” (cited Julie Pine )

Thanks goes out to Mira Coviensky of Harbourfront for organizing this trip up to the McMichael. It was a very special way to spend the afternoon!

And thanks to Anna Stanisz of The McMichael for giving us an amazing tour of the FASHIONALITY exhibit. She expertly broke down the interwoven and often complex issues that each of the 23 artists explored using fashion to display on the outside what is being dealt with on the inside regarding nationality, gender and cultural hybridity.

Our way of dressing is our “code” for signifying who we are and what we stand for but sometimes the codes are misunderstood. They become reductive wrapping us in stereotypes influenced by historical fictions. Over time the real meaning gets lost in translation as though the truth has been purposefully misplaced so as not to interact with the humanity of the subject. This exhibit is about calling up the past and challenging our current assumptions - ultimately restoring that humanity.

Curator Julie Pine successfully gathered together a diverse group of artists that used the accessibility of fashion, tongue-in-cheek humour and texture to beautifully explore the dimensionality of this land we call home.

On until September MIXED BAG MAG highly recommends FASHIONALITY: Dress & Identity in Contemporary Canadian Art – worth the trip to Kleinberg!

Read Juile Pine’s curatorial statement.
More information on FASHIONALITY.
Visit this weekend’s programming for Planet IndigenUS.


Camille Turner as “Miss Canadiana”

PLANET INDIGENUS GOES TO THE McMICHAEL: Considering National Identity in Fashion / Art

Fashionality Exhibit at the McMichael

FASHIONALITY : Dress & Identity in Contemporary Canadian Art

Feeling like you need to get out of the city even if only for a few hours? Here is your opportunity!

As part of the Planet IndigenUS Festival at Harbourfront a shuttle service is taking off Thursday at 12:30 pm to head up North where the air is fresher, the trees maybe a little greener but style and sophistication will not be lacking at the final destination – The McMichael Canadian Art Collection in Kleinberg, Ontario.

The McMichael is an important Canadian gallery and on until September 3 is an interesting exhibit that takes a look at the assembling of fashion with the visual arts and “what it means to be woven into Canada’s national fabric”.

“Fashionality:

1. One’s personality expressed in their clothing, “fashion personality.”
2. One’s nationality expressed in their clothing, “fashion nationality.”

- The Urban Dictionary


“Fashionality” is a newly coined term that refers to the visual culture and semiotics of dress and adornment. Combining the words “fashion,” “personality,” and “nationality,” it reflects the interplay between clothing, identity, and culture. The exhibition surrounds this theme, and explores the work of twenty-three contemporary Canadian artists who have employed apparel as a primary medium, subject or sign. Reflecting wide geographic and cultural diversity, it focuses upon the ways in which the concerns, identities, and aesthetics of those living in Canada are expressed, deconstructed, and reconfigured through the idiom of dress.”  Read more on the McMichael Gallery website

This particular tour of the exhibit will be from an Aboriginal perspective and will feature discussion around the works of Aboriginal artists featured in the exhibit  – Kent Monkman, K C Adams, Lori Blondeau, Dana Claxton and Meryl McMaster.

The Shuttle bus leaves Harbourfront Center at 12:30 pm on Thursday, August 16 and departs from the McMichael at 4pm arriving back in Toronto by approximately 5 pm. More info on the shuttle bus here.

Visit Harbourfront’s website for more on the Planet IndigenUS Festival programming or follow the festival on Facebook and twitter @PlanetIndigenUS

Follow The McMichael on Facebook or twitter @mcacgallery