The medium of film, and our relationship to it, is rather fascinating when you think about it. We often look to film to not only entertain us, but also to hold up a mirror to the world we know. It is often only when we see ourselves reflected on screen that it becomes apparent that our mundane existence is anything but. Danic Champoux’s latest film Self(less) Portrait, is a perfect example of this.
After exploring his youth in Mom and Me, Champoux turns his introspective camera towards 50 seemingly ordinary people. Getting them to reveal their most intimate thoughts, Champoux weaves together a narrative that displays the diversity and similarities that come with being human. Touching on multitude of subjects – including love, death, faith, suicide, motherhood, sexual abuse, suicide and even pet rats – there is no topic that is out of bounds.
By slowly peeling away the layers, Self(less) Portrait exposes a raw core of emotions in both the interviewees and us as well. We feel at one with the amusing and heart-wrenching stories that the characters share because they hit a nerve. Each one speaks to a time in our lives, or the lives of someone we know. That exact moment when we realized our romantic relationship was formed for the wrong reasons. We recall the time in our youth when our bedroom seemed like the only sanctuary in this complicated world. Or that instant when we consoled a close friend after they confided in us about a destructive path they were on.
Despite the familiarity of the subject matter, Champoux still manages to frequently blindside us by showing how misguided our perception of others really is. Many of the individuals on screen often do not fit into the boxes that our assumptions inadvertently place them in. Within one woman’s confident demeanor harbors that same little girl who is still scared of the bullies of her past. A disheveled man whose life was ruined by his suicide attempt surprises us, and even Champoux, by stating that his sex life is the most stable thing about him. One person explains why a seemingly romantic wedding proposal led to the most difficult year of her life. Another reminisces about the manipulation and depression that came with her sexual exploration in her twenties.
Considering the extra flare that the use of animation gave Mom and Me, one of the striking things about Self(less) Portrait is how minimalist it is. Using only a stool and a white background, Champoux ensures that our focus is always on the individual speaking. Subtly manipulating light and shadows, Champoux gives an ethereal feel to the process of watching a stranger bare their soul on screen. Self(less) Portrait paints a canvass of the human experience that is as hypnotic and thought-provoking as the people reflecting our lives on screen.
Sunday, April 27, 6:30 PM, TIFF Bell Lightbox
Monday, April 28, 8:45 PM, TIFF Bell Lightbox
Sunday, May 4, 3:00 PM, TIFF Bell Lightbox