New video installation by Peter Mettler: Notes From The Underground
April 17–21, 2019 – Gladstone Hotel, Toronto, Canada
Check out a new video installation by Peter Mettler at Grow Op 2019!
Notes From the Underground is a single-channel continuously looping video installation that provides a window into the very creation of our world – the literal ground we walk on – in real time. Images of molten lava provide a cascading array of alchemical forms that transmute rock elements into visual echoes of soft tissues, liquid clouds, arrested flames, and anthropomorphic hallucinations. Notes From the Underground is like a fireplace channel for Gaia, in which the cauldron of the earth forms the ground from which our selves and all our expressions emerge.
Grow Op 2019 at the Gladstone Hotel celebrates its seventh year with an exhibition of art, design and ideas across a range of disciplines. The 2019 edition considers ENERGY – Clean energy, dirty energy, social energy, positive energy, negative energy, climate energy, embodied energy, resilient energy. Do we hoard, waste, commodify, burn it, or do we store, reuse, renew it? How humans and other species live within and without natural systems of growth, change, abundance, scarcity, decay and life.
Curated by Christine Leu and Alan Webb of LeuWebb Projects, with Lee Petrie, Exhibitions Director, Gladstone Hotel.
Wed Apr 17: 7pm – 9pm
Thurs Apr 18: 11am- 10pm – Opening party 7-10pm
Fri Apr 19: 11am – 9pm
Sat Apr 20: 10am – 5pm
Sun Apr 21: 10am – 5pm
General admission $10 | Family pass $25 | Students $5 with ID
List of artists: Maria Thereza Alves, Sally Ayre, David Ballantine, Bruno Billio, Sarah Carlson, Shaun de Rooy, Joseph Farrugia, Noni Kaur, Mary Kavanagh, Dana Korre, Justin Langille and Jennifer Martin, Peter Mettler, Sarah Moreau, Sarah Norman and Julia Smachylo, Cindy Norton, Leah Oates, Julie Pasila, Chrissy Poitras and Kyle Topping and Jennie Suddick, Leah Oates, Meghan Price, Jessica Rysyk, The Grove Public School, The Stomata Collective, Tosca Teran, Ryan van der Hout, Natalie Majaba Waldburger, Alicia Wright, Daniel Rotsztain, Native Land.
For more information visit https://www.gladstonehotel.com/Grow-Op
Becoming Animal at Harvard University with David Abram in person!
April 11, 2019 at 19:00 – Cambridge, MA
Harvard University’s Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts presents a screening of Becoming Animal, followed by an open conversation, “Between the Human Animal and the Animate Earth,” with David Abram and Lucien Castaing-Taylor (Director of Harvard’s Sensory Ethnography Lab).
For more information, visit https://college.harvard.edu/between-human-animal-and-animate-earth
From Harvard’s website: “David Abram – cultural ecologist and geophilosopher – is the author of Becoming Animal: An Earthly Cosmology, and of The Spell of the Sensuous: Perception and Language in a More-than-Human World. Described as ‘daring’ and ‘truly original’ by Science, and as “revolutionary” by the Los Angeles Times Dr. Abram’s work has helped catalyze the emergence of several new disciplines, including the burgeoning field of ecopsychology. A close student of the traditional ecological knowledge of diverse indigenous peoples, David was the first contemporary philosopher to advocate for a reappraisal of “animism” as a complexly nuanced and uniquely viable worldview. He has been the recipient of numerous awards, and recently held the international Arne Naess Chair in Global Justice and the Environment in Norway. Dr. Abram is creative director of the Alliance for Wild Ethics (AWE), an organization dedicated to cultural metamorphosis through a rejuvenation of place-based oral culture–the culture of face-to-face and face-to-place storytelling. He lives with his family in the foothills of the southern Rockies.”
Peter Mettler at Dokumentarfilmwoche Hamburg
April 5–6, 2019 – Hamburg, Germany
Peter will attend this year’s Dokumentarfilmwoche Hamburg in person to present Becoming Animal and Gambling, Gods and LSD.
For more info:
Swiss-French premiere of Becoming Animal with Peter Mettler in person
March 16–22, 2019 – Switzerland
Outside The Box presents the Swiss-French premiere of Becoming Animal, with Peter Mettler in person!
16 March - 19h00 – Lausanne – CityClub Pully – followed by a DJ set by Vincent Hänni and projection of Gambling, Gods and LSD
17 March - 20h00 – Neuchâtel – Minimum
18 March - 20h00 – Cinéma d’Oron
20 March - 20h30 – Genève – Cinélux
21 March - 20h00 – Delémont – La Grange
22 March - 20h30 – Sainte-Croix – Royal
Essay in Soundings: Documentary Film and the Listening Experience
Lars Koens and Demelza Kooij have published a chapter on the use of sound and voice-over in Peter Mettler’s documentaries, including Picture of Light, Gambling, Gods and LSD, Petropolis: Aerial Perspectives on the Alberta Tar Sands, and The End Of Time. Their essay, “Creative Use of Voice in Non-Fiction Narrative Film” in Soundings: Documentary Film and the Listening Experience, is available as a free download from the University of Huddersfield Press. Read it here!
“Language forms an integral part of Mettler’s filmmaking process, exemplified by the diverse use of voice. […] He prefers to reveal the limits and artificiality of language, as opposed to reading out facts. For example, the voice-over in The End of Time starts with what could be regarded as a Nietzschean claim: ‘Things don’t have names, we made them all up’. Film provides an excellent ground for such philosophical explorations, only to find new boundaries of course — those of the film medium itself. In the cinema, we cannot authentically experience the Northern Lights nor feel the effects of LSD. The translation from lived to cinema experience is fundamental to Mettler’s reflexive style.” (169–170)
Becoming Animal at Göteborg Film Festival 2019
January 29–31, 2019 – Göteborg, Sweden
Becoming Animal screens at the 41st Göteborg Film Festival, the largest film festival in Nordic Europe, with three screenings this January. Peter will be in attendance on the 30th and 31st! Visit the festival’s website for tickets and more information.
"Becoming Animal challenges our world of thought in an attempt to bridge the mental barrier between man and environment. Is it possible to experience a perspective where man is not in the center, but where we meet animals and nature around us at the same level? What role do language and modern technology play in such an attempt? [...] Perhaps a radical transformation of our perception is what is needed if the current destructive development is to be heeded?" - Tobias Åkesson
Becoming Animal at Solothurner Filmtage 2019
Happy new year! Becoming Animal will be presented at the 2019 Solothurner Filmtage, Switzerland, on January 26th and 30th.
Peter inducted into Ryerson’s IMA Visionaries Wall of Fame
On November 15, 2018, Peter Mettler will be inducted as one of five initial recipients into Ryerson University’s School of Image Arts Wall of Fame, presented at the annual Image Arts Award Night.
The other recipients of this award are Stephen Bulger (Stephen Bulger Gallery), Edward Burtynsky (Manufactured Landscapes, Anthropocene), Pia Di Ciaula (The Crown), and Jeremy Podeswa (The Five Senses, Game Of Thrones).
From IMA’s website: “Peter Mettler (Image Arts ’82) holds a unique position for his innovation within the realm of documentary film, and merging cinema with other disciplines. His films include Gambling Gods & LSD, Petropolis, The End of Time, and Picture Of Light which was recently selected by TIFF as one of Canada’s Essential 150 Canadian Films.”
Many upcoming Becoming Animal festival screenings for Fall 2018!
Becoming Animal continues its tour this fall, with the following festival screenings…
Duisberger Filmwoche - November 8th. Peter Mettler in attendance!
Recontres International du Documentaire de Montréal (RIDM), Montréal, Canada - November 11th & 14th. Peter Mettler in attendance!
International Documentary Festival Amsterdam, Netherlands - November 15th, 19th, 20th, 22nd, 24th. Dutch Premiere with Peter Mettler and Emma Davie in attendance!
Becoming Animal distribution announcements for UK and Canada
We are excited to announce Becoming Animal will be distributed theatrically in the UK this fall, via Scottish Documentary Institute. We are also excited to announce a spring release of the film in Canada – more news on that come soon!
And if you live elsewhere, don’t fret! Contact your favourite independent cinema today and tell them that you’d love to see Becoming Animal on the big screen in 2019! These sorts of actions are significant in helping to further the presence of the film and its message worldwide.
FilmExplorer interviews Peter about Becoming Animal
"The result is a cinematic experience that is both intellectual and sensual; Although in their density at times somewhat overwhelmed, but something succeeds, which is extremely rare in the cinema: literally and not just temporarily change your own perception. [...] Perception is, at least in "nature", always a reciprocal process in which man is only a small part of a huge network, to which animals, plants and also "inanimate" objects belonged like stones. Thus, Abram creates a kind of modern animism - after all, the very first of all religions, created in pre-linguistic times - that Mettler and Davie succeed in translating into cinematic language.”
“It is almost impossible to think without relying on a specific human perception. To empathize with those of other living beings who have neither self-confidence nor language-based thought processes is an imponderable, an imponderable, without at least a temporary modification of their own perception - whether through meditation, drugs or other techniques. In Becoming Animal, however, Peter Mettler and Emma Davie, together with philosopher David Abram, are now considering precisely this: the different connections and differences in perception between man and nature. Knowing Peter Mettler's earlier films, it is not surprising that this consideration is not (alone) through language - which, as David Abram points out in the film, one of the main barriers in this regard - but takes place through a cinematic form whose purpose is to find a purely cinematic equivalent of the theses of Abram. The result is a cinematic experience that is both intellectual and sensual; Although in their density at times somewhat overwhelmed, but something succeeds, which is extremely rare in the cinema: literally, and not just temporarily, changing your perception…
“As the wind in nature is responsible for carrying the pollen from one place to another, thus enabling that infinitely complex system of life on earth in the first place, the human spirit is capable of doing so through its similarly complex network from neurons to perceive this nature first. And because the separation between man and nature is only a somewhat arrogant imagination, one can come to the conclusion that this human being is little more than a means of nature to perceive oneself - a reflection of nature to a certain extent. This means nothing less than that in the moment when a human being looks at Becoming Animal on the big screen - presumably another mirror - the possibilities, as in Mise en abyme in the Hall of Mirrors, are endless.”
– Dominic Schmid, translated from German, original version available here.
“Becoming Animal heisst der neue Essayfilm des schweizerisch-kanadischen Regisseurs Peter Mettler. Darin denkt er nicht nur – zusammen mit dem Philosophen David Abrams über das Verhältnis Mensch-Tier nach, er lässt die Zuschauer sogar dank Mini-Kamera mit den Augen eines Raben die Welt sehen.”
Peter Mettler Retrospective at Kino Xenix, Zürich
This November, Kino Xenix presents a retrospective of Peter Mettler’s films, including Eastern Avenue (1985), Balifilm (1997), Picture Of Light (1994), The Top Of His Head (1989), Gambling, Gods and LSD (2002), Petropolis: Aerial Perspectives on the Alberta Tar Sands (2009), The End Of Time (2012), Becoming Animal (2018), The Sound of Insects – Record of a Mummy (2009, dir. Peter Liechti), Broken Land (2014, directed by Stéphanie Barbey and Luc Peter), and the live performance document YoshtoYoshto (2017), in collaboration with Jeremy Narby and Franz Treichler.
"You cannot ask for more from the cinema than Peter Mettler offers. Overwhelmed by his films, spellbound in a comprehensive sensual experience that one can describe only inadequately. Similar to that concert, that journey, that landscape, that animal or human encounter that overwhelms, takes hold of; 'I was blown away', it is said, almost apologetically, because the words are missing in order to make the person's own experience halfway understandable. But «hin und weg» ('back and forth') is a beautiful expression in German, to describe the perception in the moment, since you were present in full consciousness carried away and yet absent-mindedly stepped away, divining that the subconscious plays along…
"Mettler's films offer more than can generally be expected in the cinema: no escapism and numbness of the senses, but a formidable school of perception, associative visions and ideas for a sharpened awareness, encouragement for an open mind. Mettler does not conceive of himself as an omniscient author and narrator, but more as a constantly searching traveler, as an intuitive mediator, as a medium or filter, walking through the world with his camera, 'as if I were a musical instrument,' as he once said: 'Tuning is thematically oriented, based on an idea or a feeling.' Consequently, he understands the cutting of the collected material visually and acoustically as a kind of composing music: Instead of linearly telling a story, his films are meant to break conceptual thinking and create moods that lie beyond rational and linguistically namable truths. 'Movies are my way of interacting with the world and trying to understand them,' he says. Always trying to get on the track of the indescribable, the incomprehensible…
"'Watching Peter Mettler' is a stroke of luck just in time for the filmmaker's sixtieth birthday. The program includes not only his congenial cooperation with the meteorologist and photographer Andreas Züst, but fortunately also the last work with another longtime, deceased Swiss friend: Peter Liechti, whose apartment in the Atelierhaus Birli took over Mettler in the Appenzellian forest as a European second home. In Liechti's masterpiece THE SOUND OF INSECTS, Mettler speaks with his unmistakably gentle voice the diary of the man who starves to death in a forest hut. The ultimately life-affirming cinematic near-death experience breathes, to the buzz of insects, the spirit of Mettler's cinema vision of 'beyond' - the meaningful English word means beyond and beyond, but also beyond and beyond. Or as a kind of calendar, saying: who embraces life in all its apparitions, death never needs to fear. Mettler's fluid delimitation of the film form was a cause for concern, once wrote the film critic Martin Schaub. Mettler knows this best himself and therefore recommends the audience to relax: 'Just relax, listen, look and see.' That remains valid – continue."
– Marcel Elsener (Translated from German, original version available here).
Manufactured Landscapes at the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto
Manufactured Landscapes (2006, dir. Jennifer Baichwal, cinematography by Peter Mettler) will be presented at The Art Gallery of Ontario in conjunction with the Anthropocene exhibition by Edward Burtynsky, Jennifer Baichwal and Nick de Pencier.
Manufactured Landscapes is a feature documentary that follows renowned artist Edward Burtynsky as he travels through China photographing the evidence and effects of that country's massive industrial revolution. The Three Gorges Dam, factory floors a kilometre long and the breathtaking scale of Shanghai's urban renewal are subjects for his lens and our motion picture camera. Shot in Super-16mm film, the documentary extends the narratives of Burtynsky's photographs, meditating on human impact on the planet without trying to reach simplistic judgements or reductive resolutions. In the process, it shifts our consciousness about the world and the way we live in it.
Peter Mettler Retrospective at Tribute to a Vision, Italy/Slovenia
From October 15–22, Kinotelje Festival will be hosting Tribute To A Vision 2018, featuring a complete retrospective of the films of Peter Mettler in conjunction with the Darko Bratina Award. This event spans multiple cities across the border of Italy and Slovenia, and includes a master class presentation and live performance.
Peter Mettler Masterclass at Tribute to a Vision 2018
Peter Mettler gave a masterclass at Tribute to a Vision 2018, in advance of receiving the Darko Bratina Award. View the complete livestream here:
“Peter Mettler: Radicalized Cineasta (Insomnia, A Terrorist)”
Text by Denis Valič on Peter Mettler’s films
Commissioned for Tribute To A Vision Festival 2018. Translated from Italian; original version in Italian and Slovenian available here.
I would venture to say that Peter Mettler is one of those filmmakers who for one or the other reason really know many (at least by hearsay): whether for his valid reflections on contemporary society and on the obsessions of the same, or for the his continuous analysis of the role that technology plays in the creative process and in many aspects of our life; that both for his witty and discerning mix and intertwine his own cinematographic creative process with other artistic disciplines and means of expression, or simply for the numerous well-known artists with whom he collaborated (from the musician Fred Frith to the theatrical authority Robert Lapage ), or, why not, perhaps for its almost bizarre obsession with science and the fundamental questions that it opens up, or simply because Mettler is a unique and deeply unconventional cinematographic author. However, at the same time, very few understand it.
In almost four decades of his film career he has in fact generated a wildly varied and surprisingly multiform production, without neglecting the fact that it is also quantitatively impressive. The unity of his works, at first sight perhaps not so directly (and certainly not intuitively) perceptible, we realize only by looking at his filmography in the light of his crucial decision and turning point: that of continuing to work, for the whole his career and without exception, outside the institutional production environments, in the name of complete creative freedom. Mettler has therefore consciously embraced the greater difficulty, unpredictability and commitment required by these production conditions. And it is considering this that, turning once again to the totality of his creations, we will suddenly see what we would not expect from certain facts and behaviors: we will be amazed by the creative continuity of Mettler despite its production conditions being not the most encouraging, and its almost workaholic efficiency in realizing and realizing its ideas and visions. It is therefore evident that in his creative process the conditions of production do not even remotely have the decisive role they play in the works of other authors, who are not so abandoned to themselves. So it is not surprising that Mettler has refused them so easily and apparently without delay. It is therefore a "loss" that Mettler evidently has not even warned, which has granted him a single but fundamental key element and allowed him to reach the one that without difficulty we recognize as the only - absolutely not negligible - condition of his process creative, that is to say, working on the conditions and in the spirit of total creative freedom which is precisely the absence of any external pretension, expectation or imperative, as well as the exclusion of the figures which, in the context of institutional production, constantly accompany creation; possible.
The direct and indirect consequences of this choice of the author, or rather of this almost obvious position that allows him to work in complete freedom from the creative point of view, pervade all his production and each of his creations, each plan and each phase of the his creative process, and finally also numerous aspects of his intimate relationship with his films, as well as his reflections on cinematography and its expressive means. These consequences are manifested in all their power and drama, for example, already on the level of the formal setting of his works. So the viewer who is about to know his films will seem at first glance (with that very first look still superficial and too "far") to categorize them in two defined sense groups, simply subdividing them into documentaries and fiction films. Well, these would understand very soon - to a slightly more careful observation - how unexpectedly the size of their error is. Each work by Mettler is in fact markedly or barely perceptible, but still distinguishable - different from the others. But we are concrete and immerse ourselves in the bulk of his works. We will find more or less classical documentaries (Picture of Light / Image of light) but also extremely experimental (Petropolis), experiments in fiction features that, in dealing with the problem of heroin addiction, ask questions about the nature and levels of perception, on our individual and social identity, and on the probable appearance of consciousness in that technology that allows us to tell through images (his first feature film Scissere - passed to history as the first student film to be included in the official program of the Toronto festival ), particular adaptations of theatrical works completely freed from the constraints of the form, in which it represents and reflects on the dramatic conflict between history, culture and human desires (Tectonic Plates), documentaries with socio-political inclinations, almost activistic, on current problems ecological (still Petropolis), and finally we find still ope These are hardly classifiable in which they are explored hardcore philosophical questions originating from the intersection of the animal world with the human one (Becoming Animal / Becoming Animal, to date his latest work).
Until a few days ago I thought I was a fairly good Mettler connoisseur. But then I began, slowly and gradually but continuously, with each new approach to the work, to discover dark areas, incredibly numerous, behind which hides aspects of his creativity completely unknown to me, and to notice ever more clearly that so far I was only bluffing more or less well. And now I find myself confused in front of this profound precipice that is its production, and I wonder if it still makes sense to invent and develop strategies of discovery in front of this collection of filmic images, stories and reflections, unconventional, sometimes extreme , but always bright. In fact, this escapes in a spontaneous and clear manner, in body and soul, to any categorization and systematization, which seems almost more sensible and practical to simply be transported by it. Peter Mettler was born in Canada - where he is considered (together with colleagues and collaborators A. Egoyan, B. McDonald and others) among the most important and original representatives of the movement, which originated in Ontario in the eighties, of new, so-called critics, filmmakers Canadians - but, as he himself always remembers, he feels a strong creative bond with his second homeland, Switzerland, where his parents were born (and here we add that both nations are strongly determined to take possession of it: it is not clear if lend themselves to each other or if one of them has appropriated his heart, the other of his vivacious neurons). The author creates, dividing himself between two houses and two homelands, and therefore he has made the necessity of confronting with borders and subdivisions virtues: he has placed it at the center of his own intimate creative world and has made his mission to go beyond borders. at the same time their own creative creed. He is awarded the Darko Bratina Award 2018. The filmmaker will be the main protagonist of this year's edition of the Poklon viziji / Homage to a vision, and between October 15 and 22 will present his works in seven cities cross-border area between Slovenia and Italy, including also Ljubljana. While on Tuesday 16 October in Gorizia, Mettler will conduct a daily masterclass at the Palazzo del Cinema (to find out more: kinoatelje.it). If you are enthusiastic about and challenge the challenge of diversity and creativity, based on the awareness of the need to overcome any and all limits, boundaries or divisions, do not miss the meeting with Mettler.
Peter Mettler’s films now available on Vimeo On Demand!
Peter Mettler’s films are now available for streaming rental or purchase through Vimeo On Demand.
View everything from the early short poetic features Scissere (1982) and Eastern Avenue (1985), the experimental dramas The Top Of His Head (1989) and Tectonic Plates (1992), and the epic documentaries Picture of Light (1994), Gambling, Gods and LSD (2002), Petropolis (2009), and The End of Time (2012). All available in HD, with newly remastered image restorations of Picture of Light and Gambling, Gods and LSD.
Upcoming screenings of Becoming Animal for Fall 2018
Becoming Animal continues its festival tour! Co-director Emma Davie will be present at the following upcoming screenings, marking the film’s North American premiere:
Becoming Animal also begins a multi-city theatrical exhibition in Switzerland in October, distributed via Outside the Box. Peter Mettler will be in attendance at the following screenings, which will be accompanied by a Q&A:
October 24th – RiffRaff, Zürich
October 25th – Rex Bern
October 26th – Cameo Winterthur
October 27th – Kinok, St.Gallen
October 28th – Bourbaki, Lucerne
November 1st – Stadtkino, Basel