A CSV Gallery Exhibition in Partnership with CFMDC
A Retrospective of Gariné Torossian's contributions to feminist diasporic cinema at the CSV gallery in partnership with The Canadian Filmmakers Distribution Centre.
Gariné Torossian was born in Beirut, Lebanon, in 1970, to Armenian parents. She spent her childhood in Beirut before moving to Canada at the age of six. After studying Film and Photography at York University in Toronto, and subsequently working as a photographer, she began to direct films. She made her first short film at the age of 19 on Super 8. She took on responsibility for the camera work, editing, and direction of her own films.
Her first 16mm film, “Visions,” premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) in 1992, and later that same year at the Georges Pompidou in Paris. Her second film “Girl From Moush” (1993), premiered at the Berlin International Film Festival in 1994 and received an award at the Melbourne International Film Festival for best experimental film. This early work assembled pictorial sequences of an imagined Armenia emerging from the artist's subconscious. It marked the beginning of her continued investigation into visual approaches to an imagined home. Since the mid 1990s, she has produced short films, often supported by the Ontario Arts Council, the Canada Council for the Arts, and the National Film Board of Canada. Her second screening at the Berlinale was in 1998 with “My Own Obsession,” a 25 minute, 16mm film. Her third invitation to the Berlinale was in 1999 with her film "Sparklehorse" (5min,16mm). “Sparklehorse” was inspired by three songs by the music group of the same name. It received an honorary prize in the Panorama section of the Berlinale for originality.
In 1996, Jyette Jensen and Lawrence Kardish from MoMA invited her to screen all her films as part of the museum’s Cineprobe program. In 2000, she presented four of her films at the Telluride Film Festival at the invitation of Stan Brakhage who was a guest programmer at the festival. That year, Brakhage invited her to show all her films at the University of Colorado in Boulder as part of a program titled first person cinema. Her films were acquired by the university’s library following a
recommendation by Brakhage.
In 2002, she won the Panorama short film prize at the Berlinale for "Babies on the Sun" (2001) – a five minute film that nostalgically trace memories of childhood. In 2002, she screened “Shadowy Encounters” (16mm,15min), an homage to the Brothers Quay, at the Venice International Film Festival. Torossian’s films focus on notions of memory, longing and identity – and this is also true of her first feature film "Stone, Time, Touch" (2007), which represents a temporary answer to ten years of investigation into her own origins. “Stone Time Touch” (72min) premiered in the Forum section of the Berlin International Film Festival. It went to many festivals following the Berlinale, including HotDocs in Toronto, and the Warsaw International Film Festival, where it won best documentary prize. “Stone Time Touch” screened at the Jerusalem Film Festival, Karlovy Vary, among other festivals.
In 2010, a book was published about her work by the Canadian Film Institute titled “Elective Identities, the Moving Images of Gariné Torossian.” That same year, a retrospective of her films took place at the Cinemantheque in Ottawa. Other retrospectives of her films include Berlin Arsenal (2000), Winnipeg and Vancouver Cinematheques (2002), Toronto Pleasure Dome (2003), LUX London (2005), and the Spielberg Theatre at the Egyptian in Los Angeles (2019). This last retrospective in Los Angeles was reviewed by Hyperallergic on August 23, 2019, in an essay titled “An Overlooked Filmmaker’s Monumental Contributions to Diasporic Cinema.”Torossian received a DAAD fellowship in Berlin in 2007. She devoted her time there to exploring and preparing her upcoming film, which was shot in Beirut in the Armenian ghetto of "Bourj Hamoud" where her family lived. She lives and works in Toronto and Yerevan as an independent Canadian filmmaker. Her last short film “An Inventory of Some Strictly Visible Things” (2018) was shot in Yerevan and screened at the Hamburger Bahnhof museum in Berlin last year as part of a curated program.
"The Yerevan brilliantly indexed in An Inventory of Some Strictly Visible Things bears little resemblance to the hallucinatory Armenia of Girl From Moush. An Inventory’s (2017) crisply shot and starkly lit digital renderings belong to the here and now rather than there and then... I watched a retrospective of Torossian’s work hosted by the Los Angeles Filmforum at the Egyptian Theatre in July. It was the first retrospective program of her films in Los Angeles — a staggering fact given her monumental contributions to feminist diasporic cinema over the past quarter-century." From Hyperallergic, Mashinka Firunts (2019) 
"In a nod to Perec, Torossian’s An Inventory of Some Strictly Visible Things is a riveting account of the everyday in a small post-Soviet republic: a country obsessed with the catastrophic... It is a powerful celebration of the extraordinary in the ordinary; an essential respite from the white noise of the White House, and the tyranny of the headline." —Bomb (2017)
"In a national culture seemingly obsessed with identity, the careening, intense, arresting works of Gariné Torossian are poetic cinematic searches for and expressions of those very elusive notions of belonging and identification that make her an idiosyncratic yet quintessentially Canadian artist. Formally freewheeling and merging the visual languages of Super 8, 35mm, and video, her body of work is one of the most startling and original to have emerged in Canada over the last decade and a half."—Tom McSorley, Executive Director, Canadian Film Institute (2010).