Where is She Now?

Chainletter Filmmakers:

The Cherry Cherry Chainletter

Amey (Amy) Kazymerchyk, Clouds (also Finding the Truth in Difficult Times on Who Stole My Chainletter?)
November 29, 2016

How did you find out about Joanie 4 Jackie and how old were you at the time?
I was 15 at the time. I don’t recall how I found out about Joanie 4 Jackie. I made the film I submitted, called Clouds, at the Gulf Islands Film and Television School (G.I.F.T.S), which was a summer film camp for teenagers, run out of an old logging camp on Galiano Island, BC, Canada. It was taught by practicing experimental filmmakers, many of whom were women, feminists and queer. The structure of the camp was that small groups of 3-5 youth would make a film together from scratch over one week. The film would be scripted, shot and edited, with each member of the group sharing responsibilities and contributing to other group’s films at the same time. Maybe there was about 20 youth there every week. It’s quite likely that one of the filmmaker mentors– Heather Frise, Kenna Fair, Krista Tupper, Pia Massie or Bo Myers– told me about J4J. It’s also likely that I read about it in a magazine.

What interested you about the project?
I was a really lonely, isolated teenager at the time. I hung out in the art room in my high school a lot. A guidance counsellor had received a promotional package in the mail for G.I.F.T.S, which hadn’t opened yet, and gave me a flier. He thought it might be something that I would be interested in. The experience was really meaningful to me. And meeting the women that mentored the program was really transformative for me. I’d never met women like them before. It gave me a huge amount of confidence and excitement about my future. I suppose in sending my film to J4J, I was hoping to continue being around incredibly strong, independent, wild women. I looked up to the women that participated in the project, as the kind of woman and artist that I wanted to be when I got older.

At the time you participated in Joanie 4 Jackie did you consider yourself a filmmaker? What was your relationship to making movies?
At 15, I absolutely considered myself a filmmaker. I felt such an easy confidence in calling myself that. I felt brave and shameless about making work. I was excited about ideas, opportunities, supporting my friends, and creating opportunities for other young artists to make work. At the beginning I didn’t question any of my desires or intentions. After high school I started working with a number of projects that more formally supported youth to make films, such as the Access to Media Education Society, which emerged from G.I.F.T.S and then became independent from it. It is an organization, that is now 20 years old, that supports marginalized youth to tell their own stories. Some of the early programs, which were really phenomenal including supporting street youth, queer youth, first nations youth, and HIV+ youth. Then I worked in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside neighbourhood with a project called PROJECTIONS, which was a film and video mentorship and training project for Street Involved Youth, and later with VIVO Media Arts Centre. At the same time I was volunteering at the Blinding Light Cinema, and contributing to the film community in different ways. I did continue to make my own work, but as I put more energy into supporting other people to make their own work, my focus and confidence dissipated.

Do you have any specific anecdotes or memories associated with your movie?
I don’t recall that many things about it. I recall that we were thinking about the structure of Alice and Wonderland and how the narrative links very disparate scenes. We thought this would be a supportive way to give everyone on our team an opportunity to script a scene. I remember that the woman who was the central actor was Czech. We directed her to ‘speak gibberish’…. and actually I think she spoke Czech. I’ve never watched it with anyone who speaks Czech, so I’m not sure what she’s saying, but I do think it is discernible.

What did you think/feel about the Joanie 4 Jackie at the time? And now, in retrospect?
I don’t really recall, though I remember seeing a screening and performance of Miranda July’s at the Blinding Light maybe between 1998-2002. It had something about swans in the title. I remember really looking up to her and admiring her work. Maybe the Blinding Light even hosted a screening of some of the chain letter tapes. I just had the feeling that the world that those filmmakers were participating in was a world that I wanted to be a part of. In retrospect I have a lot of regrets about a kind of fall from grace I had as a filmmaker – a kind of loss of confidence or self-assuredness that halted me from continuing to make films. I now work as a curator and feel strongly about the supportive role I play in artists’ life, however looking back, as this survey is requesting me to do, I feel nostalgic for a particular sense of hope and potential I felt as an artist myself.

If you attended a screening, can you tell us where and when it was and anything else you remember about it?
In my late twenties I became the Events and Exhibitions Coordinator at VIVO Media Arts Centre, and I initiated a monthly screening program of artists’ moving images at The Cinematheque in Vancouver, BC, Canada called DIM Cinema. In 2008, when the exhibition WACK! Art and the Feminist Revolution was presented at the Vancouver Art Gallery, a call was put out to all of the art centres to present their own parallel programming. I presented a retrospective screening of J4J at DIM Cinema. We also made a compilation DVD called Two Sisters, which is a reference to two mountain peaks that are visible from the city of Vancouver. It was composed like a chain letter and was comprised of local female artists’ films and videos. We handed it out at the screening. In my role at VIVO, I worked with a group of women to put on an exhibition, a set of workshops, and a dance party, through which we invited young artists to remake artworks from the WACK Show! An artist from Montreal named Onya Hogan Finley facilitated the production of artworks that were remakes of WACK! works made out of cardboard called The Dinner Party. Anyway, these two projects were really important to me at the time, because during the WACK! symposium there was a blowout between the generation of artists that were exhibited in the show and younger artists. A panel of senior feminist artists declared that feminism died after 1983, the year that the exhibition closes around. Many younger feminist artists felt frustrated with the lack of foresight and openness to how forms of organizing, artistic production, and community building had shifted generationally. I was proud to present a screening of J4J because It was an expression of a very formative kind of artistic feminism for me.

What do you do now – professionally and otherwise? Are you still involved in filmmaking?
I programmed the Signal and Noise Media Arts Festival at VIVO from 2008-2010, and was the Events and Exhibitions Coordinator there from 2010-2013. I programmed DIM Cinema for six years and then passed it on to a new programmer. In 2013 I became the curator of the Audain Gallery at Simon Fraser University, also in Vancouver, BC, Canada. I am still very committed to presenting moving image practices and supporting the work of feminist moving image artists, including Ursula Mayer, Lili Reynaud-Dewar, Althea Thauberger, Hito Steyerl and Martine Syms. I contribute to the production of films by other artists, but I wouldn’t call myself a filmmaker anymore.