Shorts 1963-65

Larry's Recent Behaviour

Canada, 16 min. 1963

One of Joyce Wieland's earliest works, shot in 8mm and finally blown-up to 16mm, "Larry Recent Behaviour" has been described by Simon Field as an "irreverent and wilfully juvenile examination" of a nasty habit that Larry has recently acquired

Peggy's Blue Skylight

Canada, 12 min. 1964

Filmed in Joyce Wieland and Michael Snow's loft in New York, the film covers a day of friends visiting, writing and drawing from noon of one day to dawn the next day. The soundtrack was done by Paul Blay. The 16mm film is a blow-up of grainy 8mm stock.


Canada, 4 min. 1964

Wieland's kinetic romp casts David Shackman as an overexposed sleeper dogged by a patriotic march of tube steaks that finally refigures him as our most familiar icon of freedom. This pixillated short about hot dogs is the latest of Wieland's early film works to be restored to circulation.

Patriotism Part II

Canada, 4 min. 1965

In a way a portrait of Dave Shackman with the American flag. The ending is a stop-motion animation of a set table with food moving and swirling and finally gathering together in a ball. Looking back at the film, the animation sequence seems to foreshadow Dave Shackmans, early death. He died shortly after the film was made.

Barbara's Blindness (with Betty Ferguson)

Canada, 16 min. 1965

"There is no one named Barbara to be found; a pair of mysterious blind-person's hands (looking suspiciously like Wieland's) make only one cameo appearance to 'read' us the title; yet these seemingly incongruous elements provide the perfect introduction to the ironic humour of the film itself. The main source of the film seems to be an old grade-school morality-movie on the appreciation of eyesight, starring golden-haired Mary, who finds herself temporarily blind, and a leaden-voiced narrator, who finds himself our unwitting straight-man. The filmmakers re-edited this curiosity and intercut it with other stock footage of disasters, agricultural techniques, and monster movies, to create a very different object lesson on the nature of vision." - B. Ruby Rich

Water Sark

Canada, 13 min. 1965

"I decided to make a film at my kitchen table, there is nothing like knowing my table. The high art of the housewife. You take prisms, glass, lights and myself to it. “The Housewife is High"‚“Water Sark" is a film sculpture, being made while you wait." - Joyce Wieland

Shorts 1967-69


Canada, 4 min. 1967

"1933. The year? the number? the title? Was it (the film) made then? It's a memory! (i.e. a Film.) No, it's many memories. It's so sad and funny: the departed, departing people, cars, streets! It hurries, it's gone, it's back! the film (of 1933?) was made in 1967. You find out, if you don't already know, how naming tints pure vision." - Michael Snow


Canada, 3 min. 1967

"Sailboat" has the simplicity of a child's drawing. A toy-like image of a sailboat sails without interruption on the water, to the sound of roaring waves, which seems to underline the image to the point of exaggeration, somewhat in the way a child might draw a picture of water and write word sounds on it to make it as emphatic as possible. The little image is interrupted at one point by a huge shoulder appearing briefly in the left-hand corner." - Robert Cowan, Take One


Canada, 13 min. 1967

"A cat eats its methodical way through a polymorphous fish. The projector devours the ribbon of film at the same rate, methodically. The lay of Grimnir mentions a wild boar whose magical flesh was nightly devoured by the heroes of Valhalla, and miraculously regenerated next morning in the kitchen. The fish in Wieland's film, and the miraculous flesh of the film itself, are reconstructed on the rewinds to be devoured again. Here is a dionysian metaphor, old as the West, of immense strength. Once we see that the fish is the protagonist of the action, this metaphor reverberates to incandescence in the mind." - Hollis Frampton


Canada, 6 min. 1967-1968

"Handtinting" is the apt title of a film made from outtakes from a Job Corps documentary which features hand-tinted sections. The film is full of small movements and actions, gestures begun and never completed. Repeated images, sometimes in colour, sometimes not. A beautifully realized type of chamber-music film whose sum-total feeling is ritualistic.- Robert Cowan, Take One

Rat Life and Diet in North America

Canada, 16 min. 1968

"I can tell you that Wieland's film holds. It may be about the best (or richest) political movie around. It's all about rebels (enacted by real rats) and police (enacted by real cats). After long suffering under the cats, the rats break out of prison and escape to Canada. There they take up organic gardening, with no DDT in the grass. It is a parable, a satire, an adventure movie, or you can call it pop art or any art you want - I find it one of the most original films made recently." - Jonas Mekas

Dripping Water

Canada, 10 min. 1969

"You see nothing but a white, crystal white plate, and water dripping into the plate, from the ceiling, from high, and you hear the sound of the water dripping. The film is ten minutes long. I can imagine only St. Francis looking at a water plate and water dripping so lovingly, so respectfully, so serenely. The usual reaction is:"Oh, what is it anyhow? Just a plate of water dripping." But that is a snob remark. That remark has no love for the world, for anything. Snow and Wieland's film uplifts the object, and leaves the viewer with a finer attitude toward the world around him; it can open his eyes to the phenomenal world. And how can you love people if you don't love water, stone , glass?" - Jonas Mekas, New York Times, 1969

Shorts 1972-86

Pierre Vallieres

Canada, 33 min. 1972

"He delivered three essays, without stopping, except for reel change and camera breakdown: 1) Mont Laurier; 2) Quebec history and race; 3) women's liberation. Everything which happened is recorded on film. It was a one-shot affair, I either got him on film or I missed. What we see on film is the mouth of a revolutionary, extremely close, his lips, his teeth, his spittle, his tongue which rolls so beautifully through his French, and finally the reflections in his teeth of the window behind me." - Joyce Wieland


Canada, 11 min. 1973

A film on the Dare strike of the early 1970s. Hundreds of feet and legs, milling, marching and picketing with the word “solidarity" superimposed on the screen. The soundtrack is an organizer's speech on the labour situation. Like her films Rat Life and Diet in North America, Pierre Vallieres and Reason Over Passion, Solidarity combines a political awareness, an aesthetic viewpoint and a sense of humour unique in Wieland's work.

A and B in Ontario

Canada, 16 min. 1984

“Hollis and I came back to Toronto on holiday in the summer of '67. We were staying at a friend's house. We worked our way through the city and eventually made it to the island. We followed each other around. We enjoyed ourselves. We said we were going to make a film about each other - and we did." - Joyce Wieland

Birds At Sunrise

Canada, 10 min. 1986

The film was originally photographed in 1972. Birds from my window were filmed during the winter, through to the spring, with the early morning light. I became caught up in their frozen world and their ability to survive the bitter cold. I welcomed their chirps and their songs which offered life and hope for spring.

Reason Over Passion

Reason Over Passion

Canada, 84 min. 1969

Taking Pierre Elliot Trudeau's motto "reason over passion" as a starting point, La raison avant la passion (Reason Over Passion) is an impressionistic view of Canada from coast-to-coast. Computer-generated combinations of the letters of the title are superimposed over scenes of the passing Canadian landscape, intrcut with footage of Trudeau at the 1968 Liberal leadership convention.

Wieland's most important and complex nationalist statement, La raison avant la passion is a playful, penetrating exploration of the landscape and mindscape of Canada. [The film] is largely a hymn to the beauty of the country but it also raises questions about cultural identity. Despite critical rejection of its so-called clinical detachment, it remains one of the most passionate (and reasoned) celebrations of Canada ever filmed.

-The Canadaian Film Encyclopedia

With its many eccentrics, [La raison avant la passion] is a glyph of Wieland's artistic personality; a lyric vision tempered by an aggressive and visionary patriotism mixed with ironic self-parody. It is a film to be seen many times

-P.Adams Sitney, Film Culture

The Far Shore

The Far Shore

Canada, 105min. 1976

Set in 1918 Ontario, The Far Shore employs both melodramatic conventions and experimental formal strategies to tell the tale of Eulalie, a Québecoise woman, and her love affair with Tom McLeod (a thinly veiled fictionalization of Canadian painter Tom Thomson). Married to a Toronto engineer, Eulalie finds life with him oppressive. Together she and Tom escape to the wilds of Northern Ontario, where they enjoy a brief idyll before being hunted down by her jealous husband. In its narrative and symbolism, The Far Shore deftly explores tensions between women and men, nature and industry, French and English, and art and commerce.

The Far Shore engages and critiques both Hollywood and experimental cinematic style in an attempt to create a commercially viable feminist cinema. Thus it prefigures a major direction that independent cinema would move in the 1980s.

-Laura Rabinovitz, Jump Cut

I think of Canada as female. All the art I've been doing or will be doing is about Canada. I may tend to overly identity with Canada

-Joyce Wieland