Images Festival is a leading presenter of independent film and media culture in dialogue with contemporary art. We aspire to elevate conversations between artists, scholars, and the public about the politics of the moving image.
Images Festival is an artist-driven festival that expands traditional definitions and understandings of media art by experimenting with a multiplicity of artistic forms.
We value artistic work that challenges norms, takes risks, and is rigorous in form and content. Our programs interrogate the conditions of contemporary moving image culture.
We provide a forum to develop critical engagement between Canadian and international artists, audiences, and institutions.
Images Festival is a platform for the exhibition and discourse of independent film and media art. Created in 1987 as an alternative to the only other Toronto film festival at the time, Images has spent the last 36 years presenting media works that are challenging in their form and content. The Festival showcases the intersection of emerging and established practices and invites open critical dialogue in the film and media arts community around the political histories of moving image production, distribution, exhibition, and representation.
In consideration of the complex relationship between screens, internet access, and moving-image culture, Images Festival acknowledges that our traditional program streams—ON Screen and OFF Screen, first introduced in 2005—are no longer representative of our current-day practices of looking. From the cables that cross ocean floors, immense data storage centres, and the countless connections made between people through their myriad devices, it has become clear that the contemporary lived experience in Toronto is rarely bifurcated by the digital and physical worlds.
Once named to describe the in-cinema experience, the language of ON Screen in 2023 describes a large possibility of viewing options: in gallery on a monitor, at home on a television, projected in cinema, on the TTC from your mobile device, pre-recorded or live…. OFF Screen, then, was meant to designate all programming efforts that did not take place in-cinema. Festival workshops, talks, tours, and exhibitions fell under this category. But with digital capabilities and hybrid models, we can imagine much more of this happening online.
In fact, Images Festival was an early adopter of online streaming and took our 2020 festival entirely online with less than one month of preparation. During the Great Resignation, while limitations to online access in relation to daily progress in the workspace have been reassessed, and more and more people are working remotely, Images has intentionally scheduled select weekday lunchtime screenings online, acknowledging our audience is often, if not always, online and ON Screen. At this stage in the pandemic, it has become increasingly hard to speak about screens solely as viewing platforms. They fill almost every facet of our lives. Informed by the work of Legacy Russell, we instead offer two alternatives: Online and AFK.
Online describes any programming that a participant can access outside of a festival venue with an internet connection and a digital device of their choice.
AFK describes programming that happens Away From the Keyboard. Whether people are at a computer, or messaging on their mobile device or through their Apple Watch, Images acknowledges that they are consistently online and that there are many ways to access the internet. AFK programs simply ask that we step away from the keyboard to engage with a program. The programs are location-based, require physical attendance, and do not require personal access to the internet or a device of their own.
Given our complex relationship with screens and moving-image culture, and the experimental heart of Images Festival, we will surely produce situations where these categories overlap. For example, an AFK exhibition might require one to use a tablet or phone, essentially tethering them again to the figurative keyboard. Nevertheless, one would still be required to visit the exhibition physically. We at Images also understand the prevalence of our use of mobile devices for messaging, documenting, and making those quick reference checks. We know that the audience will never truly be away from the keyboard. We just ask that when you are in-cinema, your devices are on silent and put away.
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BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Vanessa Godden, Co-Chair
Ivetta Sunyoung Kang, Co-Chair
Mani Mazinani, Secretary
Polen Light, Treasurer
Dhruv Jain, Director
Manolo Lugo, Director
Rojin Shafiei, Director
Emily Siu, Director
Pablo Herrera Veitia, Director
Irene Wong, Director