the id is: 4571

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Valery's Ankle

Body: This rumination on hockey and violence is an essay film in the best, most Markerian sense of the term: personal, contemplative, and dense, its tightly focused topic opens nonetheless onto a broad field of inquiry. "I don't intend to speak about hockey," filmmaker Brett Kashmere says in voice-over early on. "Rather I want to ask questions. Questions about nationality and sport, about collective memory, cultural amnesia, and the formation of identity." Taking as his starting point the '72 Summit Series, Kashmere convincingly posits an anti-myth of Canadian identity. The foundation of this anti-myth, this repressed shadow-identity, is not our vaunted binary of Paul Henderson vs. Vladislav Tretiak, of Canada victorious, but rather that of Canada villainous, of Bobby Clarke vs. Valery Kharlamov. That is, what forms and defines Kashmere's Canada is a pairing that resulted not in a nation-rallying goal we still choose to remember, but rather in a brutal act of enforcement we have thoroughly and tellingly forgotten. From this primal scene, the film spirals forward and backward through hockey history, making its points through an always deft and sometimes vertiginous layering of music, text, archival footage, voice-over, reenactment, present day footage, and broadcast audio. Though Kashmere can at times overreach himself--the brief multiculti and global warming bits feel very thin -or be too didactic, as when he intones, "An image can hide as much as it shows," his feel for the rhythms and realities of the game is never less than impeccable. His rapid montages of historical hockey brutality may belie the grace with which present-day players float past his camera, but in both instances we see a similar animal lyricism, a crude poetry Kashmere can conjure even from the malfunctionings of primitive Russian video equipment. Valery's Ankle accomplishes more in 30 minutes than CBC's Hockey does in all its ten hours. (Sean Rogers)

Brett Kashmere, 2006. 31 minutes.

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