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Lights, camera, action

Memorial University names first filmmaker-in-residence

Campus and Community

By Janet Harron

Anne Troake, the director of the feature documentary My Ancestors Were Rogues and Murderers, has been named Memorial University’s first filmmaker-in-residence.

Memorial University Filmmaker-in-Residence Anne Troake on set.
Photo: Christopher Darlington

In this role, Ms. Troake will work on a documentary about handwriting and be available to members of the Memorial University community and the general public.

‘Space and time’

As a director and choreographer, Ms. Troake always has several projects in various stages on the go — some that have been on the back burner for years.

“Residencies are beautiful initiatives on the part of institutions as they provide the space and time to allow ideas to incubate without having to be product-focussed,” she said. “This handwriting project has been in development for a long time. At the end of the residency, I hope to have drafted a script and conducted primary interviews which will serve as the basis for a film.”

As Ms. Troake envisions it, handwriting is a topic encompassing human history, material culture, brain development and the growing implications around technologically based communication.

“Will the younger generation be able to read their grandparents’ letters?” — Anne Troake

She has already received some development funding for the project from the Newfoundland and Labrador Arts Council.

“We make meaning by putting a line on something physical,” said Ms. Troake, adding that there are neurophysical and social implications attached to the decline of handwriting that she intends to investigate.

“There are issues around brain development in young people and fairly obvious social questions. For example, will the younger generation be able to read their grandparents’ letters?”

In her work developing the Newfoundland and Labrador contemporary dance community, Ms. Troake has employed handwriting as what she calls “a score or map for human movement.” She intends to explore filming her dance handwriting work as a potential stylistic device.

Part of her groundwork will be finding out who is researching what on campus – for example, perhaps someone in the Faculty of Education is looking into handwriting in the public school curriculum.

‘Esthetic and philosophical’

The filmmaker-in-residence initiative has had a long incubation period said Dr. Andrew Loman, the co-ordinator of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences certificate in film studies program, and says he is pleased how the residency has taken shape.

The residency will allow the filmmaker to conduct their own research and act as a resource to the university community, in a similar manner to how the writer-in-residence program works. Dr. Loman says he’s eager to see where Ms. Troake’s project takes her.

“One of the virtues of Anne’s handwriting project is how it takes something that is so practical and material and seemingly simple and teases out all of the esthetic and philosophical aspects — that’s my notion of what great artwork is.”

Although the handwriting project is her main priority, Ms. Troake also has a large archive of material from a 2012 stint on a Newfoundland sealing vessel which she hopes to turn into an essay-based film (tentatively titled Scenes of Graphic Violence) on animal welfare and visual media.

Consultation times

Ms. Troake will be available for consultation with members of the university community and the general public this month. Her office hours are Tuesday and Wednesday from 10 a.m.-12 p.m.; appointments can be made by emailing filmmaker@mun.ca.

On March 13, 2019, towards the end of her residency, a public screening of Ms. Troake’s films will be held at the Signal Hill Campus of Memorial University. Details will be posted closer to the date.

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