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The End Of Time (Switzerland/Canada, 2012, 110 minutes)

Working at the limits of what can easily be expressed, filmmaker Peter Mettler takes on the elusive subject of time, and once again turns his camera to filming the unfilmmable. From the CERN particle accelerator in Switzerland, where scientists seek to probe regions of time we cannot see, to lava flows in Hawaii that have overwhelmed all but one home on the south side of Big Island; from the disintegration and renewal of inner-city Detroit and the epic spectacle of Richie Hawtin's live show, to a Hindu funeral rite near the site of the Buddha's enlightenment, Mettler explores our perception of time, daring to dream the movie of the future while immersing us in the wonder of the everyday. With THE END OF TIME – at once personal, rigorous and visionary – Peter Mettler has crafted a film as compelling and magnificent as its subject.


Petropolis: Aerial Perspectives on the Alberta Tar Sands (Canada, 2009, 43 minutes)

Shot primarily from a helicopter, Peter Mettler's PETROPOLIS: AERIAL PERSPECTIVES ON THE ALBERTA TAR SANDS (2009) offers an unparalleled view of the world's largest industrial, capital and energy project. Canada's tar sands are an oil reserve the size of England. Extracting the crude oil called bitumen from underneath unspoiled wilderness requires a massive industrialized effort with far-reaching impacts on the land, air, water, and climate. It's an extraordinary spectacle, whose scope can only be understood from far above. In a hypnotic flight of image and sound, one machine's perspective upon the choreography of others suggests a dehumanized world where petroleum's power is supreme.


Gambling, Gods and LSD (Canada/Switzerland, 2002, 180 minutes)

A filmmaker’s inquiry into transcendence becomes a three-hour trip across countries and cultures, interconnecting people, places and times. From Toronto, the scene of his childhood, Peter Mettler sets out on a journey that includes evangelism at the airport strip, demolition in Las Vegas, tracings in the Nevada desert, chemistry and street life in Switzerland, and the coexistence of technology and divinity in contemporary India. Everywhere along the way, the same themes are to be found: thrill-seeking, luck, destiny, belief, expanding perception, the craving for security in an uncertain world. Fact joins with fantasy; the search for meaning and the search for ecstasy begin to merge.


Picture of Light (Canada, 1994, 83 minutes)

PICTURE OF LIGHT is a poetic essay by filmmaker Peter Mettler documenting the search for a natural wonder: the mysterious Aurora Borealis. After strenuous and complicated technical preparations, a film crew sets out with 50 pounds of batteries in their luggage on a 3000-mile train journey through uninhabited snowy landscapes to the end of the civilized world – Churchill, Manitoba. Like Mettler's earlier films, PICTURE OF LIGHT deals with the tension between nature and technology, science and mythology. It reflects the desire to track down wonder and capture it on film, questioning ways in which experience molded by media threaten to replace our individual and authentic experiences. Selected by TIFF as one of Canada's Top 150 Essential Films and digitally restored in 2017 from the original 35mm negative, featuring a newly remastered soundtrack.


Tectonic Plates (UK/Canada, 1992, 104 minutes)

Adapted from the play by Robert Lepage & Theatre Repère, TECTONIC PLATES (1992) utilizes the image of plate tectonics – the inexorable shifting of the landmasses which support the earth's continents – as a metaphor for the evolution of human life and culture, and the forces that shape the way we think, act and feel. The geology of continental drift serves as a powerful metaphor for themes of merging, collision, influence, passage, developing creativity as manifest in the natural world, art world, relationships and sexuality. Director-cinematographer Peter Mettler felt a strong kinship with the play's content and the company's fast and improvisational working method, which gave expression to multi-layered levels of a central idea. After watching the play evolve through this collective process, Mettler then wrote a filmic adaptation. TECTONIC PLATES is a complex and evocative voyage into the geology of human behaviour which explores, explodes and cross-fertilizes theatrical and cinematic forms.


The Top Of His Head (Canada, 1989, 110 minutes)

One of the most audacious films to emerge from the Canadian New Wave cinema of the 1980s, THE TOP OF HIS HEAD (1989) blends narrative drama and visual experimentation to offer an unique vision that remains a provocative statement for our over-saturated media environment today. Satellite-dish salesman Gus Victor is only three sales away from his company's most coveted award when he meets a performance artist named Lucy on the beach one day. After Lucy vanishes unexpectedly, Gus falls into a trance-like search that causes his perception of the world to shift. Before long, his ordered universe begins to fall apart, and as new dimensions open up for him, the familiar begins to seem strangely alien. THE TOP OF HIS HEAD is an avant-garde fairy tale years ahead of its time – a little seen masterpiece which blends dramatic narrative with imagistic cinema, and whose ultimate subject is nothing less than new ways of seeing.


Eastern Avenue (Canada/Switzerland, 1985, 58 minutes)

"In the spring of 1983, I took a trip into my intuition through Switzerland, Berlin and Portugal. The following images are, for the most part, impulsive intuitive reactions to the people and places I saw. They are cut together in a chronological order with the same impulsive approach, as is also the sound.” Peter Mettler’s EASTERN AVENUE (1985) is a travelogue described in terms of textures: cloud formations from a plane window, landscapes of snow, a young woman painting, the high interior of a baroque church, dilapidated buildings in Berlin, a child building a sandcastle, steam rising from a coffee cup. Mettler's intuitive images form an attempt to mirror the fragments and impressions of a remembered experience, tracing a personal trajectory from the wellsprings of consciousness.


Scissere (Canada, 1982, 83 minutes)

A first-person foray into the disorienting realm between reason and sensation, Peter Mettler’s SCISSERE (1982) is an incorrigibly inventive first feature. It deploys a seemingly inexhaustible repertoire of optical effects in rendering the experiences of a mental patient wandering outside institutional confines for the first time in years. Wide-eyed and frightened, the central figure imagines himself inside the sensibilities of three people he randomly spots at a bus station: a young mother, a heroin addict and an entomologist. Elusive, allusive and aesthetically rich, it summons images from filmic sources as diverse as Andrei Tarkovsky and Michael Snow. SCISSERE is a film which deliberately eludes verbal categorization or description – and with good reason: the only logic heeded by a film about the surrender to pure intuition is the logic of sensation. In this case, reason’s sleep has not bred monsters but inexpressible beauty.