June 15, 2020

SCREEN | A Collage of Memories – 'Wintopia' x DOXA 2020

"Life is more complex than any camera can record."
Mira Burt-Wintonick Peter Wintonick | Wintopia EyeSteelFilm NFB | DOXA 2020
DOXA Documentary Film Festival
Unfinished films can often be fascinating artifacts of artists' ultimately incomplete creative endeavours. In the NFB documentary Wintopia, radio producer Mira Burt-Wintonick captures herself remembering her father, famed Montreal documentary filmmaker Peter Wintonick, while trying to finish his lost "Utopia" project and also grappling with her own mixed feelings in creating a moving collage of memories of both their works at the very same time.

Wintonick died in 2013 after a short illness. Soon after, Mira discovered a dusty old box of archival footage in the form of three-hundred videotapes collected from fifteen years of solo travel supposedly "looking for a utopia on earth". His longheld plan was for the material to be assembled into one last documentary spanning the time he spent away from his family, a few months a year, all over the world attending film festivals—she reluctantly co-starred in her father's road trip doc Pilgrimage in 2016.

As she tries to mold the pieces of her father's footage through her own deeply personal approach, Burt-Wintonick wonders why her father dedicated so much time throughout his life away from her searching for a place that, by definition, does not exist. During her investigation of his life and travels, she comes to terms with the unknowable parts of her father and his absence.

Peter Wintonick Mira Burt-Wintonick | Pilgrimage
National Film Board of Canada / EyeSteelFilm
How do you understand a dead parent's unexplained obsessions? By assembling seemingly random moments into a loose assemblance of a diary about a vague thesis, she ably and artfully makes some sort of sense of her father's Quixotic journey.

There's an obvious therapeutic quality to Wintopia's home video nature in addition to its artistic merit as Burt-Wintonick finishes her father's final film through his eyes but told firmly in her own voice and, in the process, extends her family's legacy. It's a reflection of a man's utopian ideals and a daughter's grief. By revisiting something old and making it new again from an unfinished project, the documentary becomes its own original work and is certainly a fitting remembrance of an artist and father by his daughter.

Wintopia screens online as the opening night film of the 2020 DOXA Documentary Film Festival and will be available to stream from June 18 to 26th (in BC only). A live moderated Q&A with Burt-Wintonick, filmmaker Nettie Wild, and news anchor Mike Killeen will also be available starting June 20th.


More | Indiewire / POV Magazine / Straight / Tyee

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