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Jem Cohen: We Have an Anchor

Jem Cohen’s interdisciplinary opus.

It’s a good time to be a Jem Cohen fan in Toronto. September saw the TIFF premiere of the critically lauded Museum Hours, and spring promises a screening, at the AGO, of Equation Daumal, his 2008 collaboration with Patti Smith. In the meantime, the TIFF Bell Lightbox presents We Have an Anchor, the New York-based DIY filmmaker’s new experiment.

Like some of his previous mixed-media portraits of musical artists and cities, Cohen’s latest work is interdisciplinary, pairing footage he shot in Nova Scotia over the past 10 years with live music from a supergroup of his former collaborators, including Fugazi’s Guy Picciotto, Dirty Three’s Jim White, Godspeed You! Black Emperor’s Efrim Menuck, and Thee Silver Mt. Zion’s Jessica Moss. Toronto singer Mary Margaret O’Hara provides guest vocals, fresh off her appearance in Museum Hours.

Those familiar with Cohen’s style should know roughly what to expect, but newcomers are in for a startling blend of 16mm film, HD projections, spoken word readings of items as disparate as poems and scientific reports, and the previously mentioned performances.