Ervin Chartrand’s 504938C tells the story of a man caught between two worlds as he comes to grips with his violent past. Inside a prison cell, the main character smudges, wafting smoke into his face, remembering his time in a gang, as he attempts to make peace with the life he’s lived.
504938C was the first film Chartrand created, and it comes from his own experiences in prison and facing a crossroads between his past and the future he wanted.
“I think it’s almost what everyone faces, what everyone (who) comes out of prison faces,” Chartrand says. “While they’re in there, they’re bettering themselves … creating this almost ritual or promise to themselves that they will change … but when they come out, that’s the obstacle, where they gravitate towards that past.”
Chartrand’s film will be featured in Moving Images, an exhibition of 23 films from people connected to the University of Winnipeg (U of W).
Jennifer Gibson and Alison Gillmor are the curators of Moving Images. They say that they had a lot of trouble selecting movies for the show.
“There’s just so many great films that didn’t make it in,” Gibson says.
“A lot of people look at us and go, ‘Why are all of these films coming out of this small prairie town?’” Gillmor says.
During the same show, the gallery will feature an exhibition of Guy Maddin’s short film Seances, as well as a panel conversation with him about various topics, including where his inspiration and influences come from.
Gillmor says there are a few differences between the influences of Guy Maddin and young filmmakers. According to her, Madden reacted to things like old Soviet films, whereas up-and-coming creators are reacting to the world around them.
“If you look at the really young filmmakers now … a lot of them are very influenced by pop culture, a lot of them are responding to Hollywood genres but doing crazy things with them and subverting them … very much responding to boxing movies and music videos,” Gillmor says.
For Chartrand, his homegrown style of filmmaking has also been influenced by European cinema. As he studied more about film theory in school, he started to merge his own creative process with techniques he learned at the U of W.
“In the beginning I was self-taught … I couldn’t convey what I wanted in a professional matter, so that’s why I went back to school to learn that,” Chartrand says. “European cinema has influenced my work now… I feel like the theory and the self-taught aspects came together almost like the perfect recipe. It’s such a good experience.”
Published in Volume 71, Number 15 of The Uniter (January 12, 2017)