Penny McCann Plus


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Penny's career as a media artist spans twenty years and encompasses both dramatic and experimental films and videos. Her narrative works: The Sisters (1993); The Fires of Joanna (1998); Helpless (2001), and The Professor and the Blind Girl (2009), involve stories from the past told in highly codified ways, while her experimental works form an ongoing investigation into hybrid forms of expression, mixing film and video imagery to create shifts in subjectivity, memory, and perspective. Her experimental works include Marshlands (2000), 02.02.02. (2003), Away for Christmas (2004), Lake Ontario (in my head) (2006), Lot 22, Concession 5 (2009), In Between (remembering and forgetting) and Tourist of memory (both 2010), and Crashing Skies (2012).

Her work has been exhibited extensively at festivals and galleries nationally and internationally, including the Centre national d’art contemporain (Grenoble, France), the Oberhausen Short Film Festival (Oberhausen, Germany), the Images Festival (Toronto, Canada), the Festival International du film sur l’art (Montreal, Québec), the Canadian Film Institute (Ottawa, Ontario), Women Make Waves Festival (Taipei, Taiwan), the Bar Television Festival (Bar, Montenegro), the Owens Art Gallery (Sackville, New Brunswick), and the Ottawa Art Gallery. Her work has also received critical notice in such publications as The Globe and Mail, TAKE ONE: Film and Television in Canada, and Canadian Forum magazine, and has won several awards, including a Special Jury Award for The Sisters from the Yorkton Short Film and Video Festival in 1994.

As a long-time activist/worker in the Canadian media and visual arts community, Penny served as president of the Independent Film and Video Alliance from 1996-1999. She lives in Ottawa, Canada, where, since 2004, she has been employed as the Director of SAW Video Media Art Centre. Penny has been recognized for her work as an advocate for the media arts: in 2007, Penny was awarded the City of Ottawa's prestigious Victor Tolgesy Award, and in 2014, was awarded the ARCCO (Artist-run Centres and Collectives of Ontario) Achievement Award.


Crashing Skies
2012/5:02/HD/installation and single channel video
Hand-processed 16mm imagery transforms an ordinary rural landscape into an elliptical inner world of memory and dreams.

In Between (remembering and forgetting)
2010/37:36 min/DVcam/stereo/CFMDC
A video essay composed of nine film and video chapters made between 2004 and 2010, In Between (remembering and forgetting) journeys through an abstract and poetic landscape demarcated by half-glimpsed memories and fragments of the past.

Tourist of memory
In this journey through time and place – an Ottawa snowstorm, Niagara Falls, and the filmmaker’s childhood home - recollections come unbidden and half-articulated, of trains, marshes and wind turbines, resolving at the inexpressible place where memory lies.

Lot 22, Concession 5
Hand-processed 16mm film imagery, tinted, toned, and transformed, is combined with memory fragments of a rural past to create a visual poem about family, place, and time. Filmed at Canadian filmmaker Philip Hoffman’s Independent Imaging Retreat in Mount Forest, Ontario, with sound design by Edmund Eagan.

The Professor and the Blind Girl
2009/7:08/drama/High Definition
A young soldier newly returned from World War I finds himself adrift and alone, traumatized by the war and unable to speak. A chance encounter with a strange Professor and his charge, a psychic Blind Girl restores his power of speech and with it, his hope for the future.
Written by Eric Walker.

Lake Ontario (in my head)
Filmed while on a residency at the Gibraltar Point Centre for the Arts, Lake Ontario (in my head) is a contemplative look at a mutable and hypnotic horizon. Commissioned by LIFT as part of its Film is Dead...Long Live Film 25th anniversary project.

Away for Christmas
An elegiac train journey through a landscape of remembrance and forgetting.

An inquiry into signs and omens. On her birthday, the artist attempts to divine the future which, in its imagining, has perhaps already passed.

2001/drama/21:40 min./BetacamSP/CFMDC
Based on a Nova Scotian folktale from the work of Maritime folklorist Helen Creighton, Helpless is an unsettling tale of witchcraft and desire. Co-written with visual artist Eric Walker.

A psychic's prediction of impending disaster underlies this experimental meditation set on the marshes of Sackville, New Brunswick.

The Fires of Joanna
1998/drama/42 min./16mm/CFMDC
Set in Depression-era Eastern Ontario, The Fires of Joanna is a luminous tale of sin, guilt and redemption. Joanna McVeigh is a lonely woman who illuminates her isolation with secret passions and the pleasures of her one great gift - her ability to set fires with her mind.

Crabapple Jelly
Anna's mother is dying. Through ritual and memory, Anna finds transcendence. Produced through the 1994 National Screen Institute Drama Prize program. Writer: Katherine Sandford

The Sisters
1993/drama/17:45 min./Betacam/V-Tape
Etched on a gravestone are the stark facts: three sisters who drowned on the same day. A haunting and poetic drama about the events leading to their deaths.

1992/experimental/6 min./Umatic/V-Tape
A poetic evocation of ships and journeys, of absence and loss, in memory of the artist's father.


  1. SAW Video Media Art Centre
  2. Unakians
  3. Jaimz Asmundson
  4. Eva Kolcze
  5. Images Festival
  6. Jodie Mack
  7. clint enns
  8. Howard Adler
  9. Sharon Katz
  10. matthew williamson
  11. Stephen Broomer
  12. Timothy I Smith
  13. steven Woloshen
  14. Emily Pelstring
  15. Brett Kashmere
  16. Luca F
  17. Leslie Supnet
  18. James L Gillespie

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