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John Greyson & Stephen Andrews

John Greyson (born March 13, 1960) is a Canadian filmmaker, whose work frequently deals with gay themes. Greyson is also a video artist, writer and activist; he is currently a professor at York University, where he teaches film and video theory and film production and editing. Greyson has been living together with Stephen Andrews, his boyfriend since 1996. Andrews is a fellow artist whose medium is contemporary photo-based conceptual art. They live in a working class Portuguese neighborhood in Toronto and have known each other since they were teenagers.

Greyson was born in Nelson, British Columbia, the son of Dorothy F. (née Auterson) and Richard I. Greyson. He was raised in London, Ontario. He moved to Toronto in 1980, becoming a writer for The Body Politic and other local arts and culture magazines, and becoming a video and performance artist.

He directed several short films, including The Perils of Pedagogy, Kipling Meets the Cowboy and Moscow Does Not Believe in Queers, before releasing his first feature film, Pissoir, in 1988. Pissoir is a response to the homophobic climate of the period and, particularly, to police entrapment of men in public washrooms (toilets) and parks and police raids on gay bathhouses.

Greyson's next film was The Making of "Monsters", a short musical film produced during Greyson's residency at the Canadian Film Centre in 1991. The film deals with the 1985 murder by five adolescent males of Kenneth Zeller, a high school teacher and librarian, when he was allegedly cruising for sexual encounters in Toronto's High Park. The film is a fictional documentary about the making of a movie-of-the-week, entitled Monsters, in which the young murderers are depicted as psychopathic monsters, rather than normal teenage boys. The film features Marxist literary critic Georg Lukács as the producer of Monsters, with Bertolt Brecht (played by a catfish) as director. Greyson's film was pulled from distribution when the estate of Kurt Weill objected to its use of the tune of Mack the Knife. Greyson had originally received copyright permission to use the tune, but it was withdrawn, apparently because Weill's estate objected to the film's homosexual themes. Although copyright is no longer an issue, having lapsed in 2000, fifty years after Weill's death, the film has not yet been re-released by the Canadian Film Development Corporation.


John Greyson is a Canadian filmmaker, whose work frequently deals with gay themes. Greyson is also a video artist, writer and activist; he is currently a professor at York University, where he teaches film and video theory and film production and editing. Greyson has been living together with Stephen Andrews, his boyfriend since 1996. Andrews is a fellow artist whose medium is contemporary photo-based conceptual art. They live in a working class Portuguese neighborhood in Toronto and have known each other since they were teenagers.

Greyson directed the feature length films Zero Patience and Lilies.

Greyson's other films include Un©ut (1997), The Law of Enclosures (1999) and Proteus (2003). He has also directed for television, including episodes of Queer as Folk, Made in Canada and Paradise Falls.

In 2003, Greyson and composer David Wall created Fig Trees, a video opera for gallery installation, about the struggles of South African AIDS activist Zackie Achmat. In 2009, a film version of Fig Trees was released. This film, a feature length documentary opera, premiered at the Berlinale as part of its Panorama section, where it was winner of the Teddy Award for best documentary.

In 2007, Greyson was the recipient of the Bell Award in Video Art. The award committee stated: "John Greyson is perhaps best known to a general public as a feature film director. He shoots his 'film' projects on video with trademark video post-production techniques, thus colonizing the space of cinema with the aesthetics of video. An incisive social and political critic, Mr. Greyson is in fact one of the leaders in the AIDS activist video movement, among others. Mr. Greyson has supported the practice in many ways and he influences many emerging artists."

In September 2009, Greyson withdrew his short documentary, Covered, from the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) festival to protest the festival's inaugural City to City Spotlight on the city of Tel Aviv. In a letter to TIFF Greyson wrote that his protest "isn't against the film or filmmakers" chosen but against the City to City program, specifically, and "the smug business-as-usual aura it promotes." He compared the "uncritical celebration" of Tel Aviv to "celebrating Montgomery buses in 1963" or "South African fruit in 1991." Greyson cited an August 2008 article in the Canadian Jewish News in which Israeli consul-general Amir Gissin stated that Israel would have a major presence at the TIFF as a culmination of his year-long Brand Israel campaign to re-engineer the country's image and that TIFF should not be a participant in such a PR exercise. Greyson also argued that "my protest isn't against the films of filmmakers you've chosen... [but] is against the Spotlight itself" and the failure of the festival to include Palestinian voices.

Greyson also wrote that he was protesting TIFF's decision "to pointedly ignore the international economic boycott campaign against Israel" and that "By ignoring this boycott, TIFF has emphatically taken sides – and in the process, forced every filmmaker and audience member who opposes the occupation to cross a type of picket line."

He cited Israel's Gaza War and the expansion of settlements as reasons for his withdrawal, accusing the festival of: "an ostrich-like indifference to the realities (cinematic and otherwise) of the region", and comparing the Spotlight on Tel Aviv to "celebrating Montgomery buses in 1963 ... Chilean wines in 1973 ... or South African fruit in 1991".

Greyson's stance and the proceeding Toronto Declaration immediately triggered international debate.

In summer 2011, Greyson traveled to Greece to participate in the Freedom Flotilla II, specifically joining with the "Tahrir," the Canadian member of the Flotilla.

In summer 2013, Greyson traveled to Egypt, where he and fellow Canadian, Dr. Tarek Loubani, were detained without charges, in a cell with 38 other people. Reports indicate the two were on their way to Gaza to carry out medical relief work, but were forced to remain in Cairo as the crossing was closed. They remained in detention from August 16 to October 5, 2013.

Greyson's union, the York University Faculty Association, ran a campaign via LabourStart in an effort to force the Egyptian government to release him. Greyson and Loubani began a hunger strike on September 16 to protest their treatment.

The Canadian government announced on October 5 that Greyson and Loubani had been released, however they were unable to board a flight to Frankfurt due to remaining on a no-fly list issued by government prosecutors. On October 10, Greyson and Loubani were cleared for departure and left Egypt for home the next day.

Bonham Centre Award, for contribution to awareness and education around issues of sexual diversity, Mark S. Bonham Centre for Sexual Diversity Studies, University of Toronto, September, 2008.

Source: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Greyson

Further Readings:

Lilies (1996)
Actors: Ian D. Clark, Marcel Sabourin, Aubert Pallascio, Jason Cadieux, Danny Gilmore
Directors: John Greyson
Rated: R (Restricted)
Studio: WOLFE VIDEO
DVD Release Date: November 29, 1999
Run Time: 96 minutes
Amazon: Lilies

A dying prisoner s last confession serves as the cover for a plot to take Bishop Bilodeau hostage. Mastermind Simon has planned a special performance for the cleric: a reenactment of the days when they were schoolboy friends and when they were both in love with the same handsome boy.

The action moves back and forth seamlessly through time between the crude prison and the actual events of 1912, culminating in the tragic night when both men s fates were decided and their true love was lost forever.

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Tags: days of love tb
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