Q&A With Cody Campanale, director and writer of Jackie Boy

Edward Charette, left, as Kal and Alino Giraldi, right, as Jack in Jackie Boy

Jackie Boy is a recently-released Canadian drama written and directed by Cody Campanale, starring Alino Giraldi and Shannon Coulter. It tells the story of Jack (Giraldi), a self-destructive womanizer in a working-class Canadian town, who tries to change his life when he meets and falls for Jasmine (Coulter). Unknown to Jack, however, Jasmine has a hidden agenda.

Cody Campanale is an Ottawa-based director, writer, producer, and filmmaker. Jackie Boy is his first feature film.

Adina: There seems to be an implication that Kal is attracted to Jack, but it is never confirmed or fully articulated. Was Kal trying to keep Jack from changing, or trying to keep Jack for himself? Or is that implication simply not true?

Cody Campanale: I think Kal’s in love with Jack, but he’s too confused and frustrated by his own distorted notions of masculinity to comprehend that his admiration of Jack’s ‘manliness’ is actually a closeted love he feels for his best friend. With this in mind, many of Kal’s actions in the later part of the film can be seen as those of a jealous lover. A lover completely rejected by someone they never saw themselves living without.

A: Throughout the film, I noticed that the men tend to deny the severity of the violence the women face. Jack and Kal excuse Jack posting photos of Sasha without her consent, Jack tries to dismiss Jasmine’s fear after Kal chases her, and so on. Was there a deliberate point you were trying to make about this?

C: I would define the characters in this film as emotionally disconnected youth living in an emotionally disconnected landscape. This emotional disconnect allows all the characters to act in ways that are insensitive, violently destructive and just plain nasty. I chose to focus our lens on the men because I wanted to further explore the dangers that living in this emotionally disconnected landscape can have on ‘conditioned’ male notions of masculinity when left unaddressed.
Also, one could probably argue that throughout human history, great destruction and harm has come from the actions of men. This is a pretty scary thought and something I think influences my work as a filmmaker to some degree.

A: Were you afraid that the brutality and explicit nature of the ending would turn any viewers off? If so, why keep it in the movie?

C: We always knew the ending would be polarizing. And to be honest, I rather enjoy films that tend to have polarizing endings. It’s important to note, as difficult as the ending was for people to watch, it was just as difficult for us to shoot. The actors were emotionally drained and destroyed after each take (and there were very few takes). The crew members who were on set when the cameras rolled, left the set in tears. It was one of the most difficult things I ever had to create. While writing it, I kept asking myself if the scene in question was needed to articulate the film’s ideas and I kept concluding that it was. I could have written another ending, one that was less violent perhaps, or possibly more optimistic, but it wouldn’t have captured the ideas I wanted to get across with this story. I believe the destructive nature of these characters is a big concern, and by witnessing the full extent of their behaviour and the lack of awareness they have, an audience can understand how dangerous this emotional disconnect really is.

A: Would you consider the movie a feminist piece, or at least a film with a “message” of some kind? Are you okay with others making those assertions? What might that “message” be?

C: I wouldn’t consider the film a feminist piece, and I don’t suspect a lot of people will. However, I do consider it a critical view of conditioned masculinity in modern times. I think the film examines the conflicting and destructive ways that men cope with insecurities surrounding their own male identity. Beyond this examination, I think the film explores many other thematic ideas, such as: man’s inability to change, the removal of personal agency, and the using of others for pleasure or personal gain.
A well-made film should ask lots of questions and demand that the audience draw their own conclusions to those questions. I’m very happy if audiences see different things or ‘messages’ in my film. It means I’ve made you work, and good art should make you work a bit.

Shannon Coulter as Jasmine in Jackie Boy

A: In the film, Liz and Tony are the only ones who seem to have even a semi-healthy relationship, however this also breaks apart. Are the problems of these characters individual issues, or was this a commentary on the state of modern relationships in general?

C: I think the tragedy in Liz and Tony’s relationship comes from Tony’s self-defeatist attitude. He’s incredibly self-loathing and blames all his own problems on his surroundings, rather than attempting to change his environment or his attitude. Instead, he lives in that feeling of being ‘wronged’. In his mind, he did nothing to deserve what he got from life. It makes me sad, actually. Of all the male characters, Tony probably had the greatest chance of escaping his personal hell. He was so loved and supported by Liz, but didn’t know how to reciprocate that love. It truly is tragic.
I’m not sure I would consider this relationship a commentary on the state of modern relationships. It’s definitely a commentary on a particular type of relationship.

A: Jack undergoes a serious change in the film, at least from the audience perspective. However, he never makes an effort to make amends to Sasha or any of the other women he has presumably also hurt over the years. Does this mean that his general attitude toward women hasn’t really changed at all?

C: Interesting point you bring up here. If the film didn’t take the nasty turn it does in the last act, perhaps Jack would have shown more growth and decided to right his wrongs. Or, perhaps, he would not have had the courage to…that’s really for the audience to decided. Having said this, in the film I presented, I don’t think enough time passes for Jack to grow to the point that he would want to correct those wrongs.

A: Was any part of the film based on your own life or experiences?

C: Not exactly. I mean, I knew people with similar attitudes and patterns of behaviours, but not to the same extent or to the level of meanness portrayed in my film. Also, while writing the film, I was close to the age of these characters so I was living in a similar landscape, or in a ‘hookup culture’ if you’d prefer to call it that. I think a lot of the film came from my interest in exploring masculinity or the challenges with understanding your own masculinity.

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Breaking Barriers: Women in Photography

Mellow guitar chops, sounds of change clanging, and laughter: a Calgary’s Starbucks hasn’t changed its daily playlist, which satisfies those who escape their offices to find inspiration over a hot cup of coffee.

A photography intern Della Rollins was sipping her Americano and watching a woman flipping through the pages of a Calgary Herald. Rollins quit her public relations job before she went on a year-trip and she didn’t have to escape her office anymore. No more high heels and crazy hours, she thought, continuing to watch the woman.

Suddenly, the woman stopped flipping through and looked at a page with a man with a bike. Rollins heard her heartbeat: the photo was her first publication. This is amazing, she thought gazing around the shop. All these people looking at my picture!

Since then Rollins has been freelancing for the Globe and Male, National Post, and Maclean’s. Work, life, and travel were finally balanced. However, the dream job had its own challenges. Rollins realized it was not only precarious but also not women-friendly.

Photo by Sveta Soloveva

At Ryerson’s journalism conference on April 6th, Rollins and three other female photographers (Meredith Holbrook, Sarah Palmer, and Laurence Butet-Roch) discussed the key problems women face in photojournalism and gave some advices on surviving as a freelancer in Canada.

Last year World Press Photo conducted an online-survey of 1,991 photographers that showed that the field remains persistently male-dominated — 85% — despite recent photo-grads being more than 50% female. According to the News Photographers Associations of Canada (NPAC), only 12% of Canadian photojournalists are women.

“There is a lot of talented men,” said Rollins. “But women are winning awards like Photojournalist of the Year… They do brilliant work. So when you hiring, they should be on top of mind.”

There are not many networking opportunities for women in photojournalism, and, once they are are included, they tend to be assigned to cover exclusively women-oriented issues and events like the Women’s March.

Meanwhile, women’s voices are an integral part of diversity, said Butet-Roch, who has been photographing the indigenous Attawapiskat communities for seven years.

“Our journalism is just going to be better if we have more diverse voices,” she said. “Giving people the opportunity to report on what they want and not just assign the woman issue to a woman photographer or Indigenous issue to an Indigenous photographer. A woman Indigenous photographer being assigned a story on football would be wonderful.”

Freelancing is a job with no guarantees. But today, when the institutions primarily hire men, it seems to be the best career option for a female photojournalist.

“You have to really hustle,” said Holbrook, who has been photographing Palestinian Territories and Israel for The Jerusalem Post and working on different projects with National Geographic. “There are so many things you wanna do and other people won’t do. And you have to keep going and show people that you are still around, even if they are not answering. There are so many freelancers out there. You have to really show why you are different than anyone else.”

All the participants of the panel agreed on the positive sides of freelance jobs, such as choosing their schedule and subjects they are passionate about.

Butet-Roch, who used to be a stuff-photographer for four years in France, said she quit the job because she couldn’t get in-depth photography experience sitting “behind the desk.”

“There were […] stories that I felt I was missing out [on],” she said. “I wanted to be a freelancer and take time to actually get to know the story.”

Currently working on Virtual Aamjiwnaang, an interactive storytelling platform befitting Indigenous practices at Ryerson, Butet-Roch said that she is happy with her decision.

Rolliins, the contributing photo-editor at Maclean’s, said freelancing allows her to travel and work at her own pace. “Freelancing is a blessing that I didn’t expect,” she said.

The photographers shared some techniques that helped them to succeed in freelancing. One of the advices was building multiple skills in photography, videography, and writing “to have the door open” and be able to tell the story in different ways. However, it’s important to focus on one area.

“Have all kind of skills but specialize in one,” said Rollins who also writes. “They want you to do a little bit of everything. But if you are too spread out and not great in one thing, it’s hard to be hired for that one thing.”

A graduate from the Ryerson’s photography program, Palmer, who just got a grant for her project Drunk on Trump, suggested that freelancers keep their websites “light and clean,” featuring photos that represent only topics of their specialization.

Holbrook added that each photo should “speak to the audience” through its description. She also highlighted the importance of social media, saying that many photographers and organizations get connected to each other through Instagram. “It’s [Instagram] is a realistic way of branding yourself,” she said.

Having real photojournalism friends is effective for exchanging skills and, sometimes, equipment. “Find your small group of photo or journalism people who are constantly pushing you and teaching you,” said Rollins. One way to build that network is to attend photo conferences. One of them will be organized by News Photographers Association in the first week of May. All photographers will have a chance to review their work with photo editors from the Globe and Mail, National Post, and Maclean’s.

The discussion ended on a positive note inspiring freelance women photographers to keep following their passion. “As a photographer or journalist, you already have that type of skills that people are attracted to,” said Holbrook. “There’s something important, something that drives you into this area, so hopefully someone will pick up on that.”

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The Road to the Junos 2017

Photo provided from junoawards.ca

In just a few days, Canada will tune in to the Juno Awards, the yearly broadcast that recognizes and celebrates the diverse range of musicians. The ever changing location for this event has allowed Canadians from all over to have a chance to view the event live (last year the Juno’s took place in Calgary, Alberta). This year, because the awards will take place in OttawaNovella will be packing up the car and road tripping out to Ottawa to view this exciting broadcast as well as the fandamonium that comes along with it!

A big Juno category and one of the main categories in any music awards ceremony is Artist of the Year. This year, Shawn Mendes, Drake, Alessia Cara, and The Weeknd all compete with the late Leonard Cohen for this spot. In fact, many artists are being put up against Leonard Cohen for multiple categories including Donovan Woods, who is nominated for songwriter of the year (no surprise that Cohen, the historically lyrical mastermind is also nominated for this category). When Novella asked Woods about his nomination he said the greatest thing was being put up against one of the greatest songwriters of all time — something he never imagined happening.

Photo from leonardcohenforum.com

Speaking of Leonard Cohen, it is a big year for Canada to salute the musicians who have represented our musical triumphs for decades. The Tragically Hip put out their last album Man Machine Poem at the end of this past summer, which is nominated for Best Rock Album while the group is on the list for Group of the Year. Singer and Canadian icon Gord Downie, who announced having terminal cancer last summer, is nominated for Songwriter of the Year and Best Alternative Album for his solo disc.

Photo of The Tragically Hip provided from cbc.com

Of course besides the wide range of nominees and categories covering all ranges of music, the other exciting part about the Junos that we look forward to are of course the performances. The Juno Awards have announced that Alessia Cara, Arkells, A Tribe Called Red, Billy Talent, Dallas Smith, July Talk, Ruth B.Sarah McLachlan, Shawn Mendes, and The Strumbellas will all perform. Feist  will also do a special tribute performance to Leonard Cohen. 

Of course if amazing performances and exciting nominations don’t appeal to you, there is also the added excitement that both Russell Peters and Bryan Adams will be hosting the event! I know even as a music junkie, half of my excitement is for the hilariousness that we are about to endure!

Follow Novella on our road to the Juno Awards 2017 and tune in to CTV on Sunday at 6:30 pm to catch the broadcast! And continue following our arts & culture coverage on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

Does “Made In Canada” Matter?

Canadian-made brand “Raised by Wolves”- Photo @ Pangela Productions

With the importance of fair trade products on the rise as well as the support for local businesses becoming increasingly popular, this question should be a no-brainer- of course buying fashion items from Canadian designers should matter. However, when considering the actual act of labeling a product to indicate that it’s made in Canada, it seems that Canadian consumers do not tend to consider this an influence to their shopping.

Business of Fashion put out an article, “Does ‘Made In’ Matter”, which explores whether or not consumers really do care where their clothes are from. What they found is that the term ‘Made In’ is increasingly losing its credibility as brands can have their clothing made in a cheap labour market and simply package the product in their own country to say that the item is made from there. Certain countries are known for specializing in specific products. For example, Italy is known for their superb shoe making. How would you feel buying a shoe that claims to be “Made In Italy” but is actually produced in a cheap labour market? It happens more than we think- the validity of the “Made In” label is continuously decreasing.

When it comes to Canada, the “Made In” label can mean more than indicating the quality of clothing (especially to Canadians). In a recent Toronto Star article that was published this past October, titled “Canadian Designers: The challenge of making a name in Canada”, reporter, Katrina Clark illuminated the elements, which affect Canadian designers’ ability to grow their brand and sell their clothing. Canadian designers are not considered as distinguished and valuable until recognized outside of Canada. Brands from fashion capitals such as France or Italy are historically reputable and because of this, if Canadian consumers are going to buy within the designer realm, they will tend to purchase from these fashion capitals simply because of an ongoing reputation. For this reason, labeling a clothing item “Made In Canada” does not matter in terms of quality of the product itself. However, this label can still be of influence to those who choose to support local Canadian designers.

Canada Goose Manufacturing- Photo @ Toronto Standard

Many people prefer to support local artists, designers, and businesses rather than give their money to large corporations. I know that I despise chain restaurants, especially in Toronto when the single owned restaurants are endless and most of the time a much better option in terms of atmosphere, nutrition and taste. When thinking of this choice I make to almost always choose the local restaurant over the chain, I ask myself, why do I not pick the local designer over the large retailers when it comes to my fashion choices? I know that my money would be better deserved. I know that the quality of my clothing would be better and also more unique. However, when it comes down to it, paying eight dollars more for a pizza from a family run Italian restaurant is much less of a commitment than buying a four-hundred dollar jacket from a local designer when I could buy one for seventy dollars at Zara- I mean, when you do the math that’s about thirty pizzas saved (do not fact check that).


Photo @ Etsy Canadian Jewellery

It sounds brutal but as a broke and hungry twenty-something, this is just my thought process. If I had the maturity and the disposable income. I would be buying locally because I absolutely think that Canadian fashion brands have much to offer and should be recognized for this. In terms of labeling something as “Made In Canada”, I don’t believe that this matters currently to consumers simply because of the lack of recognition of the quality of Canadian products- but it certainly should. Canadian designers should receive the same recognition for their work that it just as great and sometimes better than European luxury brands. Those who buy designer items should feel proud and encouraged to purchase fashion items that are “Made In Canada”.

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Review: Infinity

Photo by Cylla von Tiedemann

If you wish to learn a new theory on time from Hannah Moscovitch’s play Infinity, you might be interrupted by dramatic screams, sudden dances, and constant arguments. Don’t worry though — you will have time to reflect on everything while listening to violinist Andrea Tyniec playing music by Njo Kong Kie. 

The Dora award-winning play directed by Ross Manson of Volcano Theatre returns to Tarragon Theatre after their successful 2014/15 season. Science, music, love, and dance meet on stage to show both intellectual and emotional sides of time and to ask if time is real or just an illusion.

The play follows three characters; Sarah Jean (Vivien Endicott-Douglas), a young mathematician, violinist Carmen Green (Amy Rutherford), and Elliot Green (Paul Braunstein), a theoretical physicist. We are shown their individual lives and how they intersect and change over time. 

Through emotional monologues, Sarah Jean tells us about her social and sexual experiences in high school and college. Sometimes in an angry, sometimes in a perplexed tone, she says that she’s messed up about love.

Then Andrea Tyniec, in a white gown, appears to interrupt Sarah’s monologue. Music in Infinity works as a transition between separate stories.

Now we are introduced to the romance between Elliot and Carmen, who fall in love while talking about time at a party. Elliot shares Einstein’s view and thinks about time as an illusion, while, as a musician who is always focuses on rhythm and counting, Carmen feels the existence of time.

Elliot, busy with his PhD thesis on his theory of time, has no time for Carmen and their newborn daughter. Braunstein perfectly shows how distracting marriage can be for a scientist obsessed with his subject. Awkward gestures and hasty answers Elliot throws Carmen’s way as he shuffles through his papers are his only attempts to part with the world of theories for a moment.

While Elliot and Sarah always share their thoughts and look to the audience for reactions to their discoveries, Carmen doesn’t seem to be fully expressed in the play. Rutherford conveys her character’s worries through her emotional conversation with Elliot who is inconsiderate toward his wife’s feelings. Carmen cries and complains all the time that she is unhappy in her marriage. But, perhaps, we would fall in love with Carmen the composer more than Carmen the housewife. As soon as she gets married, the story of her musical career becomes unclear. 

The climax occurs when all three characters have a dance-conversation. The short choreography by award-winning Canadian dancer Kate Alton brings a bouquet of anger, love, and disagreement to the minimalist set designed by Teresa Przybylsk.

The characters take us through their lives full of intense feelings and excruciating thoughts. And by the end of the play, they send shivers through the audience as they rethink their core beliefs.

Elliot announces that time is real. His new view expresses ideas from Time Reborn, the book by renowned theoretical physicist Lee Smolin, who was personally involved in writing Elliot’s biography.

Sarah says goodbye to her thoughts on love. She realizes that love is real, even though she can hardly believe it. She is an image of the generation raised in a world of mass media, those to whom it is more important to be seen to be doing something than to truly experience it for themselves. That is why facing the realness of abstract things such as love, time, and passion frightens Sarah. 

If time is real, would you exchange it for fake things? Would you accept the picture of the world somebody gives you or would you rather draw your own? Infinity inspires you to spend some time to think about your future, which is happening now.

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