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Canadian Film Institute
Moving images.
Beauty Plus Pity (dirs. Emily Vey Duke and Cooper Battersby, Canada, 2009)
Café Ex: Emily Vey Duke and Cooper Battersby
dir. Emily Vey Duke, Cooper Battersby
Canada, 2002-2013, 120 minutes

Daring Enchantments: The Moving Images of Emily Vey Duke and Cooper Battersby
Club SAW, Thursday, October 23, 2014, 7:00 pm
Inaugurated in 1998, the seventeenth season of this ongoing visiting artist series presents artist-curated evenings of independent experimental film and video in the intimate atmosphere of Club SAW. Once again, the series features Canadian experimental cinema, with guest filmmakers presenting their work and engaging in extensive discussions with audience members for a "pay-what-you-can" admission.

The Canadian Film Institute, as part of its ongoing intimate and interactive guest artist series, is proud to present the works of filmmakers Emily Vey Duke and Cooper Battersby.


Bad Ideas for Paradise (dirs. Emily Vey Duke and Cooper Battersby, Canada, 2002, 20 min.)

Bad Ideas for Paradise
Bad Ideas for Paradise
(Emily Vey Duke and Battersby, 2002)
"There is no such thing as self-esteem. Self-esteem as a construct is illogical and contradictory, so its frequent deployment as the lynch-pin of New Age discourse seems to me satisfyingly appropriate. I don't trust anyone who doesn't have frequent bouts of self-loathing. There is something truly monstrous about the self-righteous. Eating a well-balanced diet is a horrible act of aggression. Whenever I hear the word 'culture' I think of bacteria mutating under an ultraviolet light and I'm happy again for a while. Within the petri dish: unfettered egoless desire, the proliferation of new possibilities ideas made flesh, uncaring and finally airborne. Empathy is a tool for making the cruelty more precise. Beauty is independent of taste; the sublime only works for suckers. Whenever I laugh I feel guilty." — Steve Reinke

Bad Ideas for Paradise is a 20-minute episodic videotape. Funny, touching and ambitious in scope, Bad Ideas continues to deal with many of the themes addressed in Duke and Battersby's earlier works: addiction, spirituality, identity, relationship dynamics and the ongoing quest for joy.

Songs of Praise for the Heart Beyond Cure (dirs. Emily Vey Duke and Cooper Battersby, Canada, 2006, 14 min.)

Songs of Praise for the Heart Beyond Cure
Songs of Praise for the Heart Beyond Cure
(Emily Vey Duke and Battersby, 2006)
Songs of Praise is a 14 minute episodic piece that has been described as “a moving yet relentless experience of contemporary life (human and biological) in the face of moral, physical and environmental degradation” [Emily Jones, Catalogue Essay, Songs of Praise for the Heart Beyond Cure, Dalhousie Art Gallery, 2007] and “… a series of pagan hymns that unearth slight but potent saving graces amid seemingly inescapable pain and anguish." [Jon Davies, Canadian Art, Fall 2006]. Davies goes on to write that "[r]ather than offering transcendence and redemption, these illustrated songs and monologues suggest that the distinction between desperation and hope is a question of degree and not kind.”

Themes of addiction, violence, the destruction of the natural world and the agonies of adolescence are woven through the work, but as Sarah Milroy writes for the Globe and Mail, the work is “anything but depressing... [it is founded in] a sense of wonder at the endearing weirdness of life and all the vulnerable, furry little creatures immersed in it (especially us).”

Beauty Plus Pity (dirs. Emily Vey Duke and Cooper Battersby, Canada, 2009, 15 min.)

Beauty Plus Pity
Beauty Plus Pity
(Emily Vey Duke and Battersby, 2009)
The contemporary fables of Emily Vey Duke and Cooper Battersby propose that existence is abject, farcical, and messy. In their richly textured videos, Duke and Battersby employ live action footage, scavenged images, and simple animations to create episodic structures that evince a simultaneously utopian and dystopian world view.

Here Is Everything (dirs. Emily Vey Duke and Cooper Battersby, Canada, 2013, 15 min.)

Here Is Everything
Here Is Everything
(Emily Vey Duke and Battersby, 2013)
Here Is Everything presents itself as a message from The Future, as narrated by a cat and a rabbit, spirit guides who explain that they’ve decided to speak to us via a contemporary art video because they understand this to be our highest form of communication. Their cheeky introduction, however, belies the complex set of ideas that fill the remainder of the film. Death, God, and attaining and maintaining a state of Grace are among the thematic strokes winding their way through the piece, rapturously illustrated with animation, still and video imagery.

It is a work that contains specific details about its themes, but sufficiently ambiguous and free of dogma, including religious dogma that, our futuristic visitors explain, is a vestigial leftover from an earlier phase of evolution. And while Death is an ever-present rumination, so are Redemption, Affirmation, and Possibility.