The RRJ recommends you check out the Seventh Art, a digital magazine with a unique take on Canadian film.
Toronto has a lopsided film culture. TIFF, one of over 75 film festivals in the city, is also one of the world’s largest film festivals. Toronto has a gamut of film clubs, from the experimental Early Monthly Segments series to the eccentric, omnivorous Laser Blast Film Society. Additionally, the city provides a plethora of opportunities for amateur filmmakers to step into the industry with organizations like the DOC Institute and the Liaison of Independent Filmmakers of Toronto. But, despite this healthy cultivation of film production and consumption, the city’s—and, indeed, the country’s—film journalism is lacking. Canada’s mainstream media leaves little room for content about cinema, and the resulting space is, by necessity, relegated to the basics: film reviews and news stories, with the occasional column. CBC Radio’s Q may be the best source for mainstream discussion about film culture; however, film is only an intermittent topic on the show.
To praise the Seventh Art for satisfying a void in the Canadian film culture milieu, though, would be to undersell it. A video-magazine dedicated to interviews with arthouse directors and other cast and crew members, the Seventh Art also revives a style of arts journalism rarely seen outside the daydreams of nostalgic, arty hipsters. Once or twice a month, the magazine uploads a longform interview similar to the type associated with a vintage of European public TV: slow-paced, in-depth, and highbrow. Each interview typically focuses on the subject’s recent work, usually covering the reasons behind the interviewee’s creative choices. This often means that the interview becomes compelling only after seeing the associated film.On the other hand, the interview can inspire the viewer to pursue the film, which is almost always obscure.
This video, where Seventh Art talks to Force Majeure director Ruben Östlund, instantly shows the magazine’s attention to visual detail. Shooting the bohemian atmosphere of CineCycle with satisfyingly deliberate shadow and colour, the interview has the smart, relaxed air of two intellectuals chatting at the salon—even if the video is played on mute. Östlund has some intriguing insights into his own film: for instance, it was inspired by his experience of watching a group of people retreat from an avalanche, only to realize that they were in far less danger than they presumed. Their resulting embarrassment, possibly a result of having exaggerated their reaction to impress others, informed the film’s inciting incident.
In addition to interviews, Seventh Art makes its history of video essays and reviews available in its archive. While not as plentiful as its interviews, they are arguably even more appealing to film nerds intrigued by cinema’s finer—or finest—points. For instance, this essay on Pedro Costa’s Ossos looks at the way the neighbourhood it portrays is mapped, but not made available, for the viewer.
The Seventh Art’s existence does not just improve the quality of Torontonian and Canadian film journalism. It helps to prove that Toronto is a global centre of film culture. To see global and globally-renowned filmmakers like Albert Serra and Hirokazu Koreeda sitting in publically accessible Toronto film spaces like CineCycle is to record that artist’s visit to the city. It reaffirms Toronto as a place where film happens, even outside of TIFF. In doing so, it addresses a vacuum left by the city’s mainstream arts criticism.