Skip to product information
1 of 2

Black Zero

Codes for North: Foundations of the Canadian avant-garde film

Codes for North: Foundations of the Canadian avant-garde film

Regular price $20.00 CAD
Regular price Sale price $20.00 CAD
Sale Sold out

 Codes for North: Foundations of the Canadian Avant-Garde Film locates the roots of Canadian avant-garde cinema in an aesthetic of difficulty, traced through the works of three artists: Jack Chambers, Michael Snow and Joyce Wieland. Broomer covers the evolution of their art from their early development as painters in the 1950s through the creation of their epic films: Reason over Passion (Wieland, 1969), The Hart of London (Chambers, 1970) and La Region Centrale (Snow, 1971). Their work formed in response to a strain of Neo-Dada that took root in Southern Ontario in the late 1950s. From this they developed their individual practices, in directions marked by the purposeful difficulty of late modernism.

For Chambers, that difficulty lay in the interstices between lyricism and outrage, and the rare, transformative experiences of heightened perception. For Wieland, purposeful difficulty came in a collision of earnestness and wit to compose a deeply ironic, militant sentimentality. And for Snow, difficulty formed in the flexible rules of an invented game, self-prescribed boundaries within which to improvise. These artists focused their individual energies on creating major works that were not only cumulative achievements of purposeful difficulty, but which were also distinctively about Canada the ephemeral – a nation wrestling with its identity, its cultural sovereignty, and its future.

"In this brilliant, comprehensive book, Stephen Broomer traces the rise of the Canadian experimental film movement, which deserves much more attention than it gets. These are some of the films that changed cinema history. This is a richly rewarding, beautifully written, and absolutely authoritative book - a pleasure to read, either for the general reader, or for use as an excellent course text." Wheeler Winston Dixon, author of A Short History of Film, 3rd Edition (2018)

"The most exacting theoretical analysis of Canadian cinema since R. Bruce Elder's Image and Identity. With reason and passion, Stephen Broomer brings new insights and historicized understandings to this familiar trio of compelling and confounding artist-filmmakers." Brett Kashmere (Founding Editor, INCITE Journal of Experimental Media)


Stephen Broomer is a filmmaker, writer, and film preservationist. He has preserved films by R. Bruce Elder, Josephine Massarella, John Hofsess, and Arthur Lipsett. He is also the author of Hamilton Babylon: A History of the McMaster Film Board. Broomer's films have screened at venues such as the TIFF Bell Lightbox, Cinémathèque québecoise, and the New York Film Festival. 

Published 2017, Canadian Filmmakers Distribution Centre, Toronto. 283 pages.

View full details