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Filming Rhythm, Stories and Soul in the Toronto Subway

January 21st, 2020

The Toronto-made film RISE embodies the creative force of a local youth-led spoken word movement known as RISE Edutainment. A subway station serves as the set where the collective’s poets, rappers, and musicians voice their experiences as first and second generation immigrants from the Caribbean and Africa.

Emelie Chhangur, curator of The Art Gallery of York University, sparked the film project in 2017, by inviting Bárbara Wagner and Benjamin de Burca to Toronto. Based in Recife, Brazil, the two artist filmmakers are known for examining cultural change in the making. Through film and photography, they document popular performance genres as they adapt to post-colonial economies and geographies. 

The experimental film that Wagner and de Burca created with the RISE community in Toronto hybridizes fiction and documentary to establish a third language-territory—a space where rhythm and poetry are employed as catalysts to explore the complex diasporic and multi-cultural city.

RISE challenges us to consider what might constitute the creation of new traditions in and for Toronto. The story demonstrates how creative expression empowers the past, present and potential future of an extended, evolving community. By showcasing the film in the inaugural Toronto Biennial of Art, artistic director Candice Hopkins and her collaborators follow through on their commitment to showcase local culture and history.

Sound Editor: Anamnesis Audio | Special Audio from the film RISE, in order of appearance: Randell Adjei, Borelson, Kevin Braithwaite, Shahadda Jack, Laurette Jack-Ogbonna, Kwazzi, Michie Mee, Duke Redbird | RISE Audio Track, courtesy Bárbara Wagner and Benjamin de Burca Studio

Related Episodes and Posts: Views of the Toronto Biennial of ArtArt and Film Illuminate the Black ImaginationThe BLCK Family of Miami on Collective Creativity

Related Links: RISE EdutainmentBárbara Wagner and Benjamin de Burca, Art Gallery of York UniversityToronto Biennial of Art