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Fig Trees
dir. John Greyson / Canada 2009 / 104’
subtitles: Polish and English
Cinema of Canada

Cast

Van Abrahams, David Wall, Deborah Overes, Ezra Perlman, Denise Williams, Ian Funk, Jesse Nishita

Film description

The subjects of what Greyson calls an operatic documentary are two internationally renowned AIDS activists: Tim McCaskell from Canada and South Africa's Zackie Achmat. Having worked tirelessly to provide anti-retroviral drugs to treat AIDS in their native countries and around the world, appear in various guises in Fig Trees: as themselves in archival footage, news reports, press conferences and demonstrations; as quasi-fictional characters portrayed by actors; as figures in an opera being composed by Gertrude Stein, who abducts the two men and takes them to Niagara Falls where she insists that they sing avant-garde arias. There is also a singing albino squirrel, and St. Teresa of Ávila also makes an entrance.

As daring and imaginative as ever, Greyson here animates his serious subject matter with a formally freewheeling film that detonates safe assumptions about AIDS, activism, and, inevitably, cinema itself. Sharing an experimental sensibility with many of his fellow Canadian filmmakers, Greyson's politicized humanism undertakes to change the way we think.

Tom McSorley

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There will be a special screening of Guy Maddin's Brand Upon the Brain! attended by the director himself, with a performance by foley artists, narrator Gosia Dobrowolska and an orchestra.

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