new film on THE LIBRARY IN CRISIS available at last in US

Steve Fesenmaier (
Wed, 29 May 2002 07:23:42 -0700 (PDT)

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LIBRARY IN CRISIS has US distributor
Wed, 29 May 2002 06:34:26 -0400
Steve Fesenmaier <>

Dear Steve:

Please excuse me for not contacting you earlier. I suggest that you
contact my US distributor for a review copy:

Filmakers Library Inc.
Linda Gottesman
124 East 40th Street,
New York,
N.Y. 10016
p: 212 808 4980

I appreciate your interest in my documentary, and again, excuse me
the delay.


Singapore International Film Festival, April 2002

Vinita Ramani interviews Julian Samuel, a Montreal film-maker and

The Library in Crisis, 2002

Julian Samuel, Phone: 514 284 0431, E-mail:

Press Release

Introduction by Vinita Ramani

The Library in Crisis (46 minutes, 2002) is a documentary on libraries;

historic and contemporary biblioc
ides; literacy and the French Revolution;
libraries morphing into centers of E-commerce; the impact of copyright
the digitization of texts; the Khmer Rouge's catalogues of people
and the World Trade Organization's concern for democracy.

The interviewees are:

Brian Campbell, Past-chair, Canadian Library Association Information
Committee and Founding President, Vancouver Community Network

Donald Gutstein, Senior Lecturer, Communication, Simon Fraser University

(author, "E.Con, How the Internet Undermines Democracy".

Fred Lerner, author "The Story of Libraries, From the Invention of
to the Computer Age"

Ian McLachlan, Chair of Cultural Studies, Trent University

Manal Stamboulie, Head Librarian, Lakefield College School

Martin Dowding, Assistant Professor, School of Library, Archival, and
Information Studies, University of British Columbia

Peter F. McNally, Professor, Graduate School of Library and Information
Studies, McGill University

Hamdani, Islamic Historian, George Mason University


Film-maker and writer Julian Samuel has made a four-hour documentary on
Orientalism and has published a novel, Passage to Lahore, [De Lahore à
Montréal]. You may contact him at



The Library in Crisis



Vinita Ramani

In the recent past there has been much furor surrounding the meetings of

institutions such as the World Trade Organization (WTO) Free Trade Area
the Americas (FTAA) or North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The
corresponding clout of protestors has been aided by the ubiquitous
of the Internet, which has acted as a useful tool in decentralized
cooperative organization. So much attention has fallen upon this medium
communication and information acquisition, that little has been said
how its predecessor and still existing sibling - the library - figures
e larger equation. Filmmaker, writer and visual artist Julian Samuel has

undertaken the project of tracing the birth and current trajectory of
public service institution par excellence. 'The Library in Crisis'
'The Raft of the Medusa; Into the European Mirror; and City of the Dead
World Exhibitions (1993 -1995). The trilogy largely concerned itself
the nuances of colonialism and imperialism, bringing the articulations
history into the realm of documentary filmmaking. Since the library is
institution in question here, the concern with history has not been
abandoned. In a recent interview, noted writer and filmmaker Tariq Ali
observed that it is as if history has increasingly become too subversive

because the past has too much knowledge embedded in it. How
has shifted over time can be aptly charted by following the progress and

function of writing and libraries. This is the core articulation of the
The video consists of
interviews with eight academics, historians, and
librarians who offer a kind of collective genealogy of the library, from
advent of writing and universities to its use as a tool for
information by the state. This is connected to present concerns
the digitization of texts, copyright laws and how the privatization of a

public domain amounts to an infringement on civil liberties. As Donald
Gutstein aptly notes in the film, the library is in many ways the
of a democratic society. The full gravity of this statement is
as the documentary moves towards considering bibliocide -
described as "de-accessioning" books.
Tracing the beginnings of writing, Fred Lerner and Ian McLachlan note
it oscillated between several roles, with the information function and
wisdom embodiment function of writing often caught in a proverbial
This tension between contradictory forces manifests most pointedly in
shape of the
library as an institution that served both purposes. Depending
on the nature of the historical context, the roles played by libraries
varied considerably. Samuel uses understated juxtapositions to convey
tension through the documentary. The images are not always inter-cut
each other, thereby occupying full screen presence. Instead, he repeats
preference for split screens, previously utilized in his trilogy. The
roves across the spines of aged books on shelves, while one of the
interviewees speaks in a smaller frame - a screen within a screen.
Similarly, pages awash in sepia-toned light share space with flashes of
computer screens where a search for Nalanda University yields a digital
image of the building. Thus attention is constantly drawn to the
between fragments of digitized information with their immediacy, and the

organization of texts, which necessarily require more time and patience.

Islamic historian Sumaiya Hamdani offers an important c
ritical perspective
on libraries as purveyors of information dissemination. There is
relevance to her observation that the Industrial Revolution and the rise
the nation state required an invented homogeneity. This was embodied in
education, libraries and state propaganda. The alignment of education
libraries with state propaganda is one shift in the interpretation of
libraries that is astutely explored. No surprise then, that Peter
refers to the underground network of publications written during the
Revolution. Rather than censorship, a more effective means of
dissent was provided by creating middle-class values of morality through

mass literacy. This point is visually complemented by website images of
Khmer Rouge victims, perhaps hinting at the point that creating a mass
culture also allowed for the elimination of a nameless mass. Libraries
therefore, were increasingly used as repositories of detailed
information on
genocide, and
the propagation of state ideology.
Manal Stamboulie, Donald Gutstein and Brian Campbell further the
interpretations of libraries presented in the documentary by
how they have now become centers of E-commerce. The inclusion of
into the copyright act in 1976 has raised crucial questions about
take-over of information. While efforts are being made to copyright and
commodify information, libraries increasingly become the carriers of
electronic information - in itself incomplete and frequently less widely

accessible than one presumes. Much of the fuss around information
has revolved around issues of availability and the curtailment of file
sharing and free access. However, Gutstein's point that institutions in
information technology field are more concerned with how to charge for
information rather than how to increase access acts as an important
connective to previous definitions of libraries. What was previously a
public s
ervice now faces infringements from the private sector and
institutions such as the World Trade Organization play a role as
participants in support of this corporate orientation. Thankfully,
avoids any conclusive remarks about these dramatic shifts. The threat to

free access and the marginalization of a library's role in questioning
creating ideas are assertively put forward. But the various perspectives

avoid being prescriptive, therefore allowing room for debate.
Overall, the questions considered in this documentary have wide
applicability inside and outside classrooms. Its considerations of how
writing and ideas have developed through time make it a relevant tool in

fields such as history, cultural theory and media studies, especially if
considers the library as a core institution within the academy. Perhaps
significantly, it handles the phenomena of globalization without stating
obvious or re-playing the now-popular trope of protestors who constit
ute the
"anti-globalization" movement - itself an inaccurate summing up of a
movement. Rather, by delving into the historically shifting function of
libraries and current developments involving corporate presence, it
attention to how globalization concretely threatens intellectual freedom
well as political and economic liberties. By raising the idea of a
as a community whose reading rooms provide presence, distance and a
space to
engage in debates, it implicitly compels us to question how we
the growing presence of web-based communities and what limits will be
imposed upon this method of social activism.

Singapore International Film Festival, April 2002

Vinita Ramani interviews Julian Samuel, a Montreal film-maker and

Vinita Ramani: The first thing that comes to mind watching 'The Library
Crisis' is a quote by T
ariq Ali in an interview he did soon after September
11th. He
said, ".... the one discipline both the official and unofficial cultures

have united in casting aside has been history. It's somehow as if
has become too subversive. The past has too much knowledge embedded in
and therefore it's best to forget it and start anew." Has history always

been of topical concern to you in your work and how does that relate to
is happening with libraries?

Julian Samuel: I am not a historian nor am I an analyst of contemporary

world affairs. I am, however, a documentary film-maker who has a
grasp on what it means to expose audiences to extensive discussions of a

historical nature. Will my works bring about a skepticism that will
us to make for a better world? What a dreamer some of your readers might

say. I believe that it is only via a discussion of historical issues
that we
will be a able to understand and act in the contemporary world. For

Noam Chomsky has consistently referred to recent Middle-East history in
order to expose the current-day slaughter of Palestinians. By the way,
Israelis are directly responsible for the poor condition of libraries in

Palestine (66th IFLA Council and General Conference Jerusalem, Israel,
August by Erling Bergan, Bibliotekarforbundet, Orslo, Norway; web site
his essay:

And on the subject of history - well let's see what kind of future this

area of study has. For years now, schools in France have not given the
failed Paris Commune of 1871 the attention it deserves. The
war of 1870-71 and the consequent siege of Paris lead to the one of
experiments in social democracy. It must be difficult to study history
societies which specialize in communal violence such as India, Pakistan
Canada a countr
y which has a history of violence against First Nations, et
al., ad nauseam. Depending on the country, the repercussions from the
history class room to the street are immediate, and the elites will try
exert - as they have always done - limiting parameters on the teaching
this subject as well as others. Absurdly, there are news reports that
of a move toward controlling actually who studies biology. Will students

with "Middle-Eastern" features be observed, controlled and discouraged
advancing in this field? One wonders.

VR: You do not merely address the issue of the threat of privatization
what is essentially a public service in your documentary. You
use the word "bibliocide" to describe the phenomena. What was the
behind that usage and how widespread a phenomena is it?

JS: Ian McLachlan, one of the main interviewees in The Library in
uses this word. Biblocide is happening as we speak. The forthcoming part
this documentary
on libraries and information in society, entitled, "From
Alexandria to Cyberspace: The Library in Crisis" will address the
themes: permanent book burning - the enlightened destruction of primary

documents in the libraries of western democracy; the future of the study
history based on primary sources; commentaries and images from the
developing world. What am I basing my suspicions on? Nicholson Baker has
written a brilliant work of humanist scholarship, "Double Fold,
and the Assault on Paper" (2001). He makes the following claims:

- That major librarians at Library of Congress, Yale, Harvard, et al.,
since the last 40 or so years microfilmed newspapers and books,
discarding, selling or destroying the originals. The process of
requires that books have to be disbound (the binding slashed open with a

knife) because the pages have to be put perfectly flat on a table in
preparation for photography.

- That there is a attem
pt on the part of major libraries to transfer books
to the digital world. Once the books have been filmed or scanned, they
not re-shelved, but sold or "pulped".

- Librarians need more and more bookshelf space; space means the
of money which is not easily available. Yet, year after year more and
books and newspapers are published. Librarians of major collections say
only way they can make more space is to microfilm the old documents,
throwing them away afterwards. The Library of Congress leads the way in
book and newspaper massacre.

- Microfilming indirectly results in the destruction of books and
newspapers. Microfilm cannot work as a substitute for paper; many
of newspaper are incomplete, issues and pages missing, badly cropped
missing texts. Nicholson Baker estimates, conservatively, that one
books and tons of newspapers have been intentionally destroyed.
microfilm is not as stable as paper.

- Various c
onservation processes, including the use of diethyl zinc (an
explosive element found in fuel-air bombs), have not saved books from
acidity, but rather have ruined and in some cases destroyed them.
Preservation is destruction: "Just leave the books alone."

- Filming and scanning of old books and papers is much more expensive
simply building a large off-site warehouse. It is exponentially more
expensive to store complete books on hard disks that to build

Baker objectively concludes that the destruction of books has been
unnecessary: American libraries have tossed out 975, 000 books worth $39

millions dollars, and have no intention of stopping.

VR: Part of the process of privatizing public services reveals a tussle
between what may be termed "knowledge" as opposed to "information". A
article points out the emergence of companies launching "information
markets" which would provide reference service for paying customers and
would call themselves
"library-like services" in order to claim government
funding. In light of this, what are your thoughts on the digitization of

texts and the prevalence of the Internet as a resource? What impact is
digitization having on libraries?

JS: I haven't the expertise to respond to these questions. However, let
offer the following:

1) Are you suggesting that "digitization" may become "privatization"?
Perhaps. Privatization will mean that libraries may charge for
knowledge. If
we as a public don't resist the primrose path toward privatization of
knowledge, the full-steam ahead privatization of education (what the
Blair is trying to do in the UK), privatization of health care we are
doomed. People should make their will known to the politicians who claim
represent us in parliament and city councils: their feet must be held
to the fire otherwise their natural proclivity to falsely represent our
interests will prevail; these thinkers and plotters are committed to

more money, not extending democracy. They want to project their ugly
policies from above without listening to anyone. Rancid cliché: hello:
rich are not interested in solving the problems that follow from

VR: The threat posed to libraries, and the de-accessioning of texts (a
Ian MacLachlan cites in the film to point out how books are "cancelled",
taken off the shelves) extends to universities as well. In a sense, the
definition of a university as a place for intellectual debate and
itself is being de-accessioned. Is there a broader agenda motivating
other than the workings of privatization?

JS: Books need not be "deaccessioned." It is cheaper to build large
warehouses with roofs that do not leak rather than rip apart books for
filming - film lasts for only a few decades. Books last for ages -
that computers stay cutting edge.

Privatizing information means that it becomes easier for the elites to
control who gets to se
e information (and documents). At the moment, it is
getting harder and harder to look at archival government documents in
USA - rumour has it that the US government may even put a back curtain
around the beautiful Statue of Liberty. The post 11 September Bush
administration is particularly worrying. Julian Borger, a journalist for
Guardian Weekly, explicitly addresses the issue of the 1966 Freedom of
Information Act and the current access to government documents (Thursday

March 7, 2002).

5) The term "globalization" is tossed around liberally and inversely,
term "anti-globalization" is used to dismiss any serious (and not always

supportive) concern for the policies that fall under this ambiguous
term. In
a sense, it even feels like a ruse designed to detract attention from
various issues that fall within its realm. How does your film grapple
this term?

JS: The term "globalization" means privatizing everything from libraries
health care (I realize that
not all countries have public healthcare) and
even privatizing the process of privatizing itself - this process has
produced a litigious culture the likes of which we have never seen.

"The Library in Crisis" tries to put historical events such as the fall
the library at Nilanda and the contemporary digitization of texts in a
framework which allows us to make comparisons and to act in an informed
Without some knowledge of the past we can't act.

6) Your previous work on Orientalism, (The Raft of the Medusa; Into the
European Mirror; City of the Dead and The World Exhibitions) consisted
three documentaries that examined colonialism, imperialism and how
historiography operates, amongst other issues. Is there a similar series
the works built around the
thematic concerns raised in 'The Library in Crisis'?

JS: In a very general sense, "The Library in Crisis" is similar to my
on how the Middle East and parts of Asia are configured within the
of western imagination. "The Library in Crisis" focuses all interviews
one single site: the library. This public institution is one source for
preservation and further development of democracy.

However, there is a ugly trend afloat: charging for library cards. This

trend has not yet hit Montreal, but the province of Alberta is now
for library cards, and Montreal area libraries are charging for
best sellers - about five bucks a shot - total fraud this is. We have
*already paid* for the library and *all* its contents - the shelves, the

books, the networks, the data bases, the journals, the newspapers, the
tables, the CDs, the old LPs, the 45s, the chairs, the air-conditioning,
heating *through our tax* contributions. Why are some odious and
library administrators starting to *double charge* us? A simple petition
library users could stop this hideous trend toward barring those who may
be able to afford to use the library. Wit
hout the public library we are dead
and finished as a civilization. Protest and survive is the that the
I am not sure.


3 février 2002 - COMMUNIQUÉ DE PRESSE

(English follows)

Provenant des réalisateurs Julian Samuel et Mary Ellen Davis

Le documentaire "The Library in Crisis", réalisé par Julian Samuel a été

sélectionné pour le Singapore International Film Festival mais rejeté
par un jury composé de blancs pour Les Rendez-vous du cinéma québécois
(15 au 24 février 2002). "The Library in Crisis" répond pourtant à
plusieurs critères d'éligibilité: "oeuvres qui ont su traduire, à partir

d'un point de vue original et pertinent, une sensibilité intellectuelle
et esthétique, (...) oeuvres indépendantes n'ayant pu bénéficier d'une
diffusion adéquate, (...) oeuvres atypiques, etc."

ary Ellen Davis retire son documentaire "Le Pays hanté" des Rendez-vous
de cinéma québécois en solidarité avec Julian Samuel. Ce documentaire (à

l'affiche du Cinéma Parallèle Excentris, janvier 2002) a gagné un prix
en Équateur remis par l'organisation autochtone CONAIE, mais a été
refusé par Radio-Canada/CBC, Télé-Québec, Rencontres internationales du
documentaire de Montréal, Images du Nouveau Monde (Québec).

Bien entendu, le fait que Les Rendez-vous du cinéma québécois présentent

quelques oeuvres de réalisateurs de minorités visibles peut atténuer une

responsabilité en termes de discrimination. Pourtant, depuis ses 20 ans
d'existence, aucun individu provenant de minorités visibles anglophones
n'a occupé un poste décisionnel dans le cadre du festival. La directrice

et le pe
rsonnel-clé sont des francophones blancs. Sur la base de
contribuables montréalais, plus de 18% ne sont ni blancs ni
francophones, pourtant les minorités visibles sont exclues des fonctions

décisionnelles aux Rendez-vous du cinéma québécois.

Nous sommes convaincus que nos oeuvres auront de meilleures chances de
diffusion et de reconnaissance si les comités de sélection, les jurys et

toutes les institutions incluent des minorités visibles dont la langue
maternelle ou d'adoption est le français ou l'anglais.

Julian Samuel,
Mary Ellen Davis,


The Library in Crisis (46 minutes, 2002) est un documentaire sur les
bibliothèques; les bibliocides du passé et du présent; le niveau
n et la Révolution française; la transfiguration des
bibliothèques en centres commerciaux cybernétiques; l'impact du droit
d'auteur et de la numérisation des textes; les archives des Khmers
Rouges; les préoccupations de l'Organisation mondiale du commerce en ce
qui concerne la démocratie.


Nous vous invitons à communiquer avec la directrice des RVCQ, Ségolène
Tél.: 514 526 9635; fax: 514 526 1955; courriel:

c.c. MP Marie Malavoy, PQ, co-présidente d'un comité bilatéral
franco-québécois sur la diversité culturelle
c.c. des réalisateurs indépendants ici et à l'étranger

* * *

3 février 2002 - PRESS RELEASE

From: Film-makers Julian Samuel and Mary Ellen Davis

Julian Samuel's documentary "The Library in Crisis" has been accepted at

Singapore International Film Festival but rejected by an all-white jury
at Les Rendez-vous du cinéma québécois (15-24 February, 2002). "The
Library in Crisis" reflects several of the eligibility criteria:
"oeuvres qui ont su traduire, à partir d'un point de vue original et
pertinent, une sensibilité intellectuelle et esthétique, (...) oeuvres
indépendantes n'ayant pu bénéficier d'une diffusion adéquate, (...)
oeuvres atypiques, etc."

Mary Ellen Davis has retracted her documentary "Haunted Land" from Les
Rendez-vous de cinéma québécois in solidarity with Julian Samuel. Her
documentary (released at Cinéma Parallèle Excentris in January, 2002)
won an award from Ecuador's First Peoples' organization CONAIE, but has
been rejected by CBC/Radio-Canada, Télé-Québec, Rencontres
internationales du documentaire de Montréal, Images du Nouveau Monde

Of course, the fact that Les Rendez-vous du cinéma québécois will screen

the works of a few visible minority film-makers may mitigate the charge
of discrimination. However, since its inception 20 years ago, not a
single anglophone visible minority has ever been hired for a key
decision-making position within this festival. The director and all
personnel in key positions are white francophones. The tax base in
Montreal's population is over 18 per cent non-white and non-francophone,

yet visible minorities are excluded from decision-making positions at
Les Rendez-vous du cinéma québécois.

We are convinced that works such as ours will stand a better chance for
more visibility and acknowledgment if selection committees, juries and
all institutions include visible minorities, both French and

Julian Samuel,
Mary Ellen Davis


The Library in Crisis (46 minutes, 2002) is a documentary on libraries;
historic and contemporary bibliocides; literacy and the French
Revolution; libraries morphing into centers of E-commerce; the impact of

copyright and the digitization of texts; the Khmer Rouge's catalogues of

people killed; and the World Trade Organization's concern for democracy.


We urge you to contact RCVQ director, Ségolène Roederer:
Phone: 514 526 9635; fax: 514 526 1955; e-mail:

c.c. PQ MP Marie Malavoy, co-president of a joint committee with France
on cultural diversity
c.c. independent filmmakers throughout the world


Filmmaker pulls work from Quebec festival


Special to The Globe and Mail

Friday, February 1, 2002 - Print Edition, Page R7

MONTREAL - A filmmaker has pulled her
selection from the prestigious 20th
Les Rendez-vous du cinéma québécois in solidarity with another filmmaker

whose says his work was not chosen for the festival because of racism.

Mary Ellen Davis yanked Haunted Land, a documentary about genocide in
Guatemala, this week, saying fellow documentary filmmaker Julian Samuel
been unfairly omitted from the screenings of Quebec cinema, which run

Samuel, who is Pakistani-Canadian, says the decision not to accept his
smacks of racism and discrimination on the basis of his being
His film, The Library in Crisis, is a 43-minute academic examination of
history and decline of the institution of the library, and the effects
its descent on democracy itself.

Representatives of Les Rendez-vous, an annual roundup of the province's
cinema that showcases much of the year's cultural product, acknowledge
Samuel's film was not accepted, but say his minority status had nothing
do with
the decision. Adrian Gonzalez, a spokesman for Les Rendez-vous,
points out that, while all feature-length narrative films submitted
automatically screen at Les Rendez-vous, documentaries and animated
films do
go through a jury selection process. Of 85 documentaries submitted,
reports, only 50 were accepted. "We only have about 10 days for the
he says. "You send your film in, it doesn't mean we're going to show it.
can't possibly show everything." As well, Gonzalez says that a number of

filmmakers of non-white lineage have had their projects accepted into
festival, including celebrated performance artist Atif Siddiqui and
documentarian Tahani Rached. More specifically, Gonzalez says the
documentary jury found Samuel's film "boring."

While Samuel says he doesn't think the individuals involved with Les
Rendez-vous are racist per se ("I'm sure they're nice people"), he does
that it suffers from a systemic condition that's endemic to many Quebec

cultural institutions. "There simply aren't enough non-white or
representation here," he insists, pointing out that in its 20-year
Les Rendez-vous has never had a non-white anglophone in any of its key
positions. "They should be proud of the minorities in this province.
key decisions are being made without our input. They're using our tax
to exclude us. They should be made to share the resources."

As for the charge that his film is boring, Samuel responds, "I'll accept

that. Perhaps they didn't understand the film. My understanding is that
only watched part of it. The film has been accepted to the Singapore
Festival in April. It's sad to me that the film would get accepted there
receives such caustic rejection here at home."

While acknowledging that Samuel can be a bit aggressive in his stances,
filmmaker Davis agrees with him in principle and says that were more
minorities included in the selection process at Les Rende
z-vous, his film
would have stood a better chance. "It makes sense that he would ask for
this. Diversity would definitely have a positive effect on the process.
Committees can make the decisions they want, granted, but they will have
different sensibility if they include more than just white

Les Rendez-vous brass stand behind their decision. Segolene Roederer,
director of the festival, says race played no part in the decision.
very white people have been rejected, as well as some very famous white
people. What can I say? We get calls from white people who are
too. Last year, Samuel confronted me about his work not getting screened
the event. But when I asked him if he'd submitted it, he admitted he
had. Now he has, and he's upset because he's not been accepted."

As to the issue of diversity, Roederer says, "Finding visible minorities
serve on the committees is part of my mandate, for sure. It's something
we're working towards.

"There are 100 other festivals for Samuel to submit his film to,"
adds. "He's acting like a little kid who gets angry because they didn't
a toy for Christmas."



Copyright © 2002 Bell Globemedia Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Mirror, 31 January 6 February, 2002

A racist Rendez-vous?


Chronically disgruntled filmmaker Julian Samuel is at it again. Last
he complained loudly to the director of Les Rendez-vous du cinéma
about the fact that his film wasn't being shown at the event. Then in
first year running the festival, which showcases most of Quebec's film
productions from the previous year, Segolene Roederer responded in a
straightforward manner. "If you wanted to be considered for Les
Rendez-vous," she told him, "perhaps you should have actually submitted

your film in the first place." (Apparently Samue
l had forgotten that you're
supposed to actually send your movie in.)

So Samuel did just that. This year, he submitted his latest, titled The
Library in Crisis, a 43-minute documentary about the threat to democracy

posed by our declining libraries. A number of academic thinkers on the
subject are interviewed. (Though the plot may sound familiar, careful
not to
confuse this film with the latest Schwarzenegger vehicle.) Anyway, the
over at Les Rendez-vous, which runs from Feb. 15-24 and is celebrating
20th anniversary this year, had their own label for the film: Boring. It

seems they were less than thrilled with The Library in Crisis, and thus
not screening it.

Samuel says they're open to their own opinions, but points out that the
committees for film acceptance at Les Rendez-vous are lily white, and
been for far, far too long. The people who run Les Rendez-vous, he
are all pleasant enough as individuals, but adds that were there greater

minority r
epresentation his film would probably have stood a better chance.
Adding fuel to his fire is the fact that his film has been accepted at
Singapore Film Fest, which takes place in April.
Les Rendez-vous brass are sticking to their guns. They're working on the

diversity thing, they say, and point to a number of minority-status
filmmakers whose work is gracing their showcase, including Pepita
Yuti Sewraj and Carlos Ferrand. In a stunning blow to the event,
Mary Ellen Davis has pulled her film, Haunted Land (now screening at the

Ex-Centris in French-subtitled version), from Les Rendez-vous in
with Samuel. Davis argues Les Rendez-vous should definitely be opening
its juries and recruiting more minorities to serve on their committees.
Those wishing to chime in on this controversy can e-mail Les Rendez-vous

directly at

CineGael, that most excellent Irish film fest,
is having a mini-festival of
women's films this weekend. Included in the series are Bent Out of
Blessed Fruit, Silent Grace, Hoodwinked, Nora, Twelve Days in July and
Hush-a-bye Baby (director Margo Harkin will be present at the screenings
her films, Twelve Days and Hush-a-bye). See for more
The Genies, Canada's own movie awards, air this Thursday, Feb. 7 on CBC.
simple prediction, but a fairly safe one to make: Call me Jojo and
stroke my
crystal ball, I suspect Atanarjuat, the stunning Inuit epic, will sweep.



CBC radio interview: 5 February 2002, copy on cassette


What's a film festival without a controversy?

Is the Rendez-Vous du Cinema Quebecois racist? Yes, says one film-maker
whose film was rejected. Nonsense, organizers reply, citing the event's
erse lineup.

JOHN GRIFFIN, Montreal Gazette, 6 February 2002

The Rendez-Vous du Cinema Quebecois celebrated its 20th birthday at
Cinematheque Quebecoise yesterday with a press.. conference, a
late-morning cocktail and a controversy. The 20th annual look back at
previous year in film and video production chez nous will screen 187
at five Montreal locations between Friday Feb. 15, and Sunday. Feb.
One of those * films will not be Julian Samuel's The Library in Crisis.
Another will not be Mary Ellen Davis's Pays Hante (Haunted Land).
has withdrawn her film from this year's Rendez-Vous in support of
Montreal director Samuel, who says his documentary was rejected by the

selection committee because of racism. Samuel is Pakistani-Canadian.
"The entire cultural apparatus in Quebec is flagrantly racist," he
yesterday. For instance, the Rendez-Vous has never had a single
minority in a key decision-making position, he
said. While improvements
have been made in the selection, "it's time to take the next step,"
said. "Minorities need to get inside the apparatus." Festival
Segolene Roederer said Samuel's film wasn't the.. only work rejected
the documentary section. "Forty others weren't accepted either. In the
we chose the films we think are best. His wasn't right for this
Roederer also recalled that Samuel was "very aggressive in accusing us

last year of not showing his film. When pressed
he admitted he hadn't submitted it." Davis's documentary, about
in Guatemala, was to be one of 40 being shown. "It's nice to be
she said. "But we still have to evolve. We need minority presence at
selection level. This gesture is trying to send that message."
communications director Adrian Gonzalez is fed up with what he
considers a
tempest in a teapot. Twelve of the documentary selections are from
he noted yesterday. "When you enter a film in a festival, you
never know what's going to happen. Professionals accept a jury
Gonzalez is gay, Latino and a salaried employee... At one time, the
Rendez-Vous did not accept English-language films. This year, 29
shorts, documentaries and experimental works are in English or - more
accurately reflecting the reality of today's Quebec - a mixture of
and English.

John Griffin's E-mail address is

Coming soon The Rendez-Vous du Cinema Quebecois begins Friday, Feb.
and continues through Sunday, Feb. 24. Tickets go on sale next Tuesday

at the Cinematheque Quebecoise, 335 de Maisonneuve Blvd. E., and the
National Film Board Cinema, 1564 St. Denis St. The Web address is


support letters:

- Original Message -----
From: "John at Smoking Dogs Films"
To: Ségolène Roederer:
Sent: Monday, January 28, 2002 9:08 AM

Dear Segolene Roederer
i am writing on behalf of a number of people from the British
film-making community who are shocked and saddened by the news of the
withdrawal of Julian Samuel's film from your festival.As an
internationally renowned artist,journalist,novelist and
film-maker,Julian Samuel's work has been for many years at the
forefront of our collective quest for a cinema of
Difference,Diversity and Multiculturalism.Recent world events make
such a cinema even more relevant, timely and desireable.We believe in
the continuing existence of this cinema and we also believe cannot
grow without nurturing, support and exposure. It is therefore in this
spirit that we view with some alarm your decision effectively censor
the sh
owing Julian Samuel's new film.

John Akomfrah
Lina Gopaul
David Lawson
Edward George
Anjalik Sager
Kodwo Eshun
Adam Kossoff
Lucia Ashmore


14 February 2002

Madame Ségolène et le Comité de sélection des RVCQ,

J'ai pris connaissance du communiqué de presse émis par Julian Samuel et

Mary Ellen Davis pour protester contre la non-inclusion du documentaire
M. Samuel, "The Library in Crisis." Je ne sais pas si le fait de n'avoir

pas accepté le documentaire s'explique par de la discrimination de la
des RCVQ. Mais il/elle soulèvent un point intéressant en notant que les
postes décisionnels de cadre des RVCQ soient occupés par des personnes
couleur blanche uniquement. Je suis d'accord avec eux que vous devriez
ouvrir des postes décisionnels à des "non-blancs/blanches" lors des
prochains RVCQ, question d'apporter de l'équité ainsi qu'un reflet

de la réalité dans le domaine du cinéma québécois et, comme il/elle
mentionné, de la réalité démographique de Montréal.

Mais, aussi important à mon avis est le fait que les Rendez-vous du
québécois aient abdiqué à une responsabilité de diffuser de
cruciale fournie par un cinéaste qui pose un regard critique sur ce qui
passe réellement dans notre monde. Je suis bibliothécaire et je sais
pertinemment que le système des bibliothèques publiques et
sera sous attaque lorsque les institutions comme l'Organisme mondial du
commerce (et surtout l'entente connu sous le nom du GATS - General
Agreement on Trades and Services) concluent les ententes de commerce
international qui sont en négociation actuellement (voir un article à ce

sujet au: Ce phénomène fait
partie des changements majeurs en train de s'opérer dans le commerce
international qui donneront un pouvoir incroyable aux entreprises au
détriment des droits des citoyennes et citoyens de tous les pays. Je ne
sais pas si Julian Samuel traite du sujet des bibliothèques adéquatement

(j'aimerais pouvoir voir son film pour pouvoir en juger moi-même), mais,

selon la description de son documentaire, il aborde des questions
importantes à ce sujet. Puisque les médias traditionnels ne traitent pas
tout de ces questions et sachant que beaucoup de gens ont soif
d'information pour pouvoir alimenter leurs luttes contre la
je réitère qu'il incombe aux événements tels que les Rendez-vous du
québécois d'assurer la diffusion de documentaires de p
enseurs critiques qui
nous informent sur la réalité mondiale.

Vous avez beaucoup de courts métrages classés art et expérimentation ou
fiction dans votre programme de cette année; personnellement, je
préfèrerais voir beaucoup plus de documentaires qui fournissent de
l'information et de la réflexion.

Merci de votre attention.

Colette Lebeuf


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