Distributions in Profile: Vtape & CFMDC

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The Kassel Dokfest presents every year a European film and media distribution as part of its program, with the aim of giving room to discussions about structural and artistic aspects of curation. This year, we are expanding our view beyond Europe – to Canada. Canadian films and installations are an established part of the Kassel Dokfest program and the two Canadian distributors Vtape and Canadian Filmmakers Distribution Centre (CFMDC) have been in close contact with the festival for a good 30 years. The Toronto-based initiatives are proof of the vibrancy of the independent, experimental film and video scene in Canada and works from their respective catalog have hugely enriched the festival’s program. Vtape is Canada’s largest distributor of video art. Many of the works selected from the Vtape catalog have positively influenced and broadened the profile of the Kassel Dokfest’s short film section – a unique combination of “classic” observational documentary film practice with artistic field studies as well as personal essays and queer politics. CFMDC is no less of an inspiration to the program, focusing on innovative and diverse experimental and independent cinema beyond mainstream aesthetics. Both distributors do not solely promote works made for the cinema screen, but also installations which spatialize the moving image experience. Examples of these can be found in this year’s Monitoring – Exhibition for Time-Based Media Art.

Established in 1967, CFMDC is a not-for-profit, non-commercial media arts distributor that specializes in independent, artist made media art work including films from historically underrepresented communities. CFMDC advocates for a holistic understanding of production, distribution and exhibition that prioritizes artist rights, accessibility and the creation of new audiences through education and critical thinking. It has one of the most important collections of artist-made moving image on film in Canada and have recently moved into a facility with a specially designed space for its 16mm, 35mm and (s)8mm collection. Through a unique and successful national and international distribution service, CFMDC makes its collection available for preview, rental or sale for the purposes of research, exhibition, screening and broadcast as well as for institutional and private acquisition. Through a unique and successful national and international distribution service, CFMDC makes its collection available for preview, rental or sale for the purposes of research, exhibition, screening and broadcast as well as for institutional and private acquisition. We work with and distribute on multiple formats including; celluloid, video, digital, and DCP. Both physical media and online streaming.

CFMDC Values: 

• Artists should be paid for their work. 

• Art drives change, challenges conventions and transforms lives. 

• Advocacy for critical space outside the mainstream for artists’works. 

• Advocacy for voices rooted in community that disrupt dominant discourse. 

• Create opportunities to build community, encourage dialog and reach new audiences.

Vtape is a vibrant distribution organization that represents an international collection of contemporary and historical video artworks. It makes this collection accessible to exhibitors, curators, programmers, broadcasters, educators, scholars and public audiences worldwide. In addition to providing a distribution framework for established and emerging artists, Vtape is committed to establishing video art preservation and exhibition standards, and strives to support hybrid practices in an increasingly complex technical milieu. Vtape insists on the value of artistic merit and the right to freedom of expression, and is dedicated to improving the socioeconomic status of the artist. Vtape’s Research collection is available free of charge for use by curators, programmers, scholars, critics, students, and the general public. The Research Centre shared by 401 Commons Collective offers computer stations with access to Vtape’s Video Catalog and Critical Writing Index. Here Vtape videos can be viewed, and users can have access to key writings, additional print materials, and our library of publications and exhibition ephemera. In 2014, Vtape launched the Digital Preview Access Project. Newly digitized titles are accessible through Vtape’s password-protected portal that provides temporary access for scholars, curators, programmers and institutions considering research, purchase or exhibition. To date, we have digitized and uploaded over 3,000 titles of a collection that supports 6,000+ titles.

Presented by Lauren Howes (CFMDC) and Wanda Vanderstoop (Vtape).


Sira’, in Arabic, literally translated, means biography. Arabs are a people known for their oral tradition. Through excavated footage and narration, Sira examines the displacement of a family, beginning with the event the catapulted their exodus from Kuwait as a result of the Iraqi invasion.… >>>

  • Duration: 6 Min.
  • Director: Rolla Tahir


BUBBA shows the portrait of an old man (the filmmaker's grandfather), altered in several, increasingly abstracting ways. The first way the man is shown is through composite imaging, and the use of masks while shooting 16mm on a Bolex camera, achieving surreal, distorted, cubist-like impressions of the face. The second effect was achieved by sandwiching the negative print and positive print of the original portraits and printing them using a Model J printer. The third, and final effect was generated by hand processing the negative/positive hybrid, alongside negatives from a previous film.␍The concluding effect is a feeling of the loosening of ties to the material world, as images begin to appear and disappear and change, the very physical, concrete idea of a man's portrait becomes distorted, jagged, and ghostly. The same set of images come and go, bringing into focus the viewer's own memory. The film asks us, 'How will the memory of our loved ones persist with us through time? How will they change?'… >>>

  • Duration: 3 Min.
  • Director: Daniel Hackborn

Water once ruled

Collaging appropriated footage with original imagery, WATER ONCE RULED collapses the past, present and future into a single repeating loop. Linking the introduction of satellite imagery with the colonization of our own as well as other planets, the video considers water – and the lack there of – as the distressed resource connecting Mars’ history with Earth’s present and future.… >>>

  • Duration: 7 Min.
  • Director: Christina Battle


Being natural born pattern seekers, we are forever looking for this or that clue to help explain what otherwise might appear unfathomable. Fundamentally Catalyst represents a type of diary without dates, of memories reconstructed to formulate my story. A story that takes place in time and space, shaped by the earth and sky. Merging super 8 mm footage that I filmed many years ago with some of my more recent DSLR/HDV tape footage, Catalyst investigates how each medium shaped my story as well as the gaps in time when each sequence was filmed.… >>>

  • Duration: 3 Min.
  • Director: Kent Tate

Traje de Luces | Suit of Lights

Traje de Luces | Suit of Lights is an expressive documentary composed with footage of a Spanish bullfight, that iconic imagery of highly decorated masculinity and violence masked as nationalism. The footage was drawn from Jacques Madvo Collection material filmed in Spain between 1976-1978. Madvo shot this footage at a time when Spain began its difficult and flawed transition to democracy in the years following dictator Francisco Franco’s death in 1975. The film consists of 16mm footage that has been decayed in soil, contact-printed and laboriously re-photographed and these abstractions of light and darkness ground the inquiry surrounding why citizens accept the harm done to others in their name.… >>>

  • Duration: 18 Min.
  • Director: Francisca Duran


For many years a large photograph featuring 60 women in western style costumes has hung in the hallway at the entrance of Sara Angelucci’s house. The picture was given to her husband by his Aunt Dagmar. They knew little about it, other than Dagmar had cut the costumes the women were wearing when she worked at Malabar, Toronto’s renowned costume house. Angelucci often wondered who the women were, how the photograph was taken, and what it meant to Dagmar (who died in 2011). ␍Cirkut/Canadettes unpacks the many layers of this photograph, personal, local/social, and technological history. Through archival research Angelucci not only discovers who the women are, but opens up a window into the time the image was taken, Toronto in 1956. Interwoven with her own reflections, her voiceover narrative draws from articles and quotes of the time, giving voice to attitudes of the period, and the desire and mysteries that photographs hold.… >>>

  • Duration: 11 Min.
  • Director: Sara Angelucci

Mother's Cupboard

Suk-Fong Wong, a Chinese-Canadian elder, intimately takes us through her treasured collections of Chinese medicines, herbs, and ingredients found in her cupboards.␍Recorded in 2012, Suk-Fong speaks in her first language, Toisanese, a dialect related to Cantonese, and describes what some of her homemade elixirs and compounds are used for. This includes "loik doy dew", a deer bone alcohol-based elixir used for adding to soups. Most of the ingredients shown can be readily found in Chinese herbal stores.… >>>

  • Duration: 10 Min.
  • Director: Paul Wong

On The Border

This work shows ocean trash on the off-season beach in early spring.␍Many people think it is very unpleasant. It is a serious environmental problem.␍However, surprisingly it was so captivating and looked awesome like some kind of art works, ironically. Human amorality, irresponsibility and big ocean waves collaborated to make those objects.… >>>

  • Duration: 7 Min.
  • Director: Yoshiki Nishimura

The Violence of a Civilization without Secrets

Filmmakers Adam and Zack Khalil, in collaboration with artist Jackson Polys, investigate the recent court case that decided the fate of the remains of a prehistoric Paleoamerican man found in Kennewick, Washington State in 1996. The case pitted the Umatilla people and other tribes, who wanted to provide a burial to the “Ancient One”, against two scientists – one of which from the publicly-funded Smithsonian Institute – who wanted to study the “Kennewick Man”. In order for the claim to fall under the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) it became necessary to establish the lineage of these remains. This fight unleashed a controversy with groups attempting to establish white ancestry, and with this seeking to altogether undermine the indigenous sovereignty over land and ancestors and annul centuries of colonial violence. The evolving science of DNA and cranial morphology was grotesquely called in to testify to the purity of the bones’ ethnicity, where native claims to embodied knowledge of its origin had little means of addressing the court. Despite all of this, the Umatilla people and other tribes ultimately repatriated the “Ancient One” and he was reburied earlier this year in 2017.… >>>

  • Duration: 10 Min.
  • Director: Zack Khalil,Adam Shingwak Khalil

Miss Chief Praying Hands

The colonial project on Turtle Island has forced the “gift” of European religion, education, sickness, shame, and prejudice upon Indigenous peoples for generations. Now Miss Chief Eagle Testickle is giving it back! Evoking the style of dramatically elegant commercials for decadent status items, the glistening form of Miss Chief’s Praying Hands inserts a piercing yet playful perspective into the conversation on reconciliation and Indigenous resilience.… >>>

  • Duration: 1 Min.
  • Director: Kent Monkman