Spectres of Shortwave / Ombres des ondes courtes is the first feature-length documentary by veteran Canadian artist and filmmaker Amanda Dawn Christie. Shot over seven years, the film follows the gradual dismantling of Radio Canada International’s 113-metre tall shortwave towers in Sackville, New Brunswick.
While built to relay broadcasts around the world, over their seven decades of operation the towers became notorious locally after repeated instances of ghostly voices emanating from unconventional household objects. Such stories form part of the film’s rich soundscape, also constructed using contact mics on the towers.
Produced as both a single-channel film as well as a radio documentary, Spectres of Shortwave / Ombres des ondes courtes will be presented simultaneously in the Toronto cinema space at the same time it is broadcast over the airwaves of an international FM radio station.
Vertical Features takes its name from Peter Greenaway’s 1978 featurette Vertical Features Remake. A fictional documentary that also borrows from the language of structural film, Greenaway’s experiment serves to trouble claims of authenticity and authorship, issues still relevant in the world of documentary and other non-fiction media, especially as it moves online and into the gallery.
The name Vertical Features serves to evoke the idea of work that exists adjacent—even perpendicular—to conventional cinema, works that risk oversight. The series hopes to promote vital non-fiction film and video that has had little or no Toronto exposure, including documentary, essay films, hybrid experiments, and artists’ moving image, placing contemporary films in dialogue with historical rediscoveries. Supplemented by introductions and discussions with guest scholars, artists, and critics, Vertical Features serves to highlight and situate these exceptional works.
Vertical Features is a project by Jesse Cumming, Olivia Wong, and Dan Browne.