Celebrating the work of Josephine Massarella

Posted September 29th, 2018 in Announcements, New Acquisitions

Josephine Massarella was an independent filmmaker and teacher based in Hamilton, Ontario, as well as a longtime friend of Canyon Cinema. She passed away on June 22, 2018.

Her last work, 165708, premiered at the 2018 Ann Arbor Film Festival, where it was awarded the prize for Best Experimental Film. A digital version of the film is available to rent now, along with four other works from her long career.


165708 (2017 | 6.37 minutes | B&W | SOUND)

Shot entirely in 16mm black and white film using single frame photography, 165708 employs in-camera techniques and chemical manipulation of processed film to produce an eidetic study of temporal elasticity. Techniques include stop motion, time-lapse, light painting, flicker, tinting, and toning. Combined with cycles of alternating exposed frames, these methods imbue the work with a rhythmic magnetism, apparent both in the tempo and the aesthetic of the images.

Exploring the capacity of the medium to express various notions of time, the film begins with a woman looking out from the shoreline. This acts as a point of departure to disparate yet interconnected sequences which prompt the viewer to engage in a structurally unique mode of inquiry and experience. A dynamic original score by the acclaimed composer Graham Stewart accompanies the film.


No End (2015 | 6 minutes | COLOR/B&W | SOUND)

No End was inspired by a poem I wrote over the course of six months. During this process, abstract images surfaced, subsided, and settled: eventually forming the foundation of a film. The result is a lyrical journey that explores the intersection of interconnectivity and the lived experience. The film includes an original soundtrack by Graham Stewart of Viosac.

Selected screenings & awards: Nevada International Film Festival, Platinum Award, Experimental Film (Las Vegas, USA, 2015); New York International Film Festival (New York, USA, 2016); Arte Non Stop Festival, Silver Palms Special Mention (Buenos Aires, 2016); Golden Gate International Film Festival, Nominated for Best Experimental Short (San Jose, USA, 2016)


Night Stream  (1996 | 12 minutes | COLOR | SOUND)

Night Stream, a short experimental film about rebirth and fertility, succinctly evokes the flow of tension and trance within the dream state.

Exhibition (selected): Ann Arbor Film Festival, 1996; Seventh Madrid Experimental Cinema Week.


Interference (1990 | 20 minutes | B&W | SOUND)

Interference continues the filmmaker’s experimentation with time and stillness. A woman sits at her desk typing. Outside, the Canadian winter holds the land in its grip. Snow flurries drift past the window. The woman makes coffee, waits for the mail to arrive, sits in thought. We wait for the disaster to strike. At the end of the day, another woman enters the apartment and asks how the day went. The end.

The accumulation of non-events gradually strips us of all the clichés of dramatic action, and we are made aware that our actual lives are always like this.

Selected screenings: Montreal International Women’s Film Festival, Montreal, QC,1991; Canadian Film Celebration, Calgary, AB, 1991; Cinematheque Ontario, Toronto, ON, 1991.


One Woman Waiting (1984 | 8 minutes | COLOR | OPT)

Massarella uses the fixed camera shot in her enigmatic film of a symbolic encounter between two women in a beautifully shot desert location. Its cryptic form is a good example of how an idea can be treated most effectively by simple means, for instance in the use of the frame as a point of entry and exit for characters and as a perspectival space which uses foreground and interior for dramatic and emotional ends.

Award: Special Merit Award, Athens Int’l Film Festival, Ohio, 1985; Cash award, Ann Arbor Film Festival, 1985.

Exhibition: Independent Means film tour of the United Kingdom, 1987; Festival of Festivals, Toronto, 1985; Vancouver Int’l Film Festival, 1985; LA Int’l Gay Film Festival, 1985; SF Int’l Gay Film Festival, 1985; Montreal Int’l Women’s Film Festival, 1985; Beyond the Keyhold Int’l Women’s Film & Video Festival, 1985.