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      Thursday, June 11 2009

Headline News

 

U50 documentary traces the parallel histories of York and Toronto

Where the Sidewalk Begins: The University and the Global City,
a new documentary film celebrating York’s 50th anniversary, explores
the evolving identities of the University and the City of Toronto and
how their histories intersect. It will screen next week.

 

Co-written by Peer Zumbansen (left),
associate dean of research, graduate Studies & institutional
relations at York's Osgoode Hall Law School, and Mars Horodyski, the
film’s director, Where the Sidewalk Begins traces the
parallel histories of Toronto and York University through the latter
half of the 20th century and examines their challenges in a rapidly
evolving global world.

 

“Cities are getting a lot of attention in the research world because of increasing immigration and globalization,” says Horodyski,
who has completed a total of two documentaries and six narrative
shorts. “I realized the University is like a city itself. It mirrors
what goes on in the city.” Methods of generating, disseminating and
implementing knowledge have become survival questions for city
governments and universities alike.

 

So the idea to have the film examine how
York has evolved over the last 50 years compared to Toronto was a
natural one. “It was really natural for people to draw those
parallels,” says Horodyski, winner of Ryerson University's 2003 Norman
Jewison Filmmaker Award for her film Lemonade and of the 2007 WorldFest Houston International Film & Video Festival Golden Remi Award for her latest short, Spoonfed. Her
films have screened at various festivals, including the Montreal World
Film Festival, the Atlantic Film Festival, the Commonwealth Film
Festival and the Palm Springs International ShortFest.

 

Left: Mars Horodyski

 

“York really reacted to the increasing
immigration and the diversification of the city,” says Horodyski. The
film also looks at how the city can learn from the University, and vice
versa, as both continue to transform. Universities around the world are
in dialogue and contestation with their transnational urban environment
and share many of the experiences of cities with questions of access,
identity and competition.

 

Where the Sidewalk Begins features
found footage of York and Toronto up against images of the real city
where real people live and work, including the University, as well as
interviews with key players in the development of both places.

 

Right: A still image from the film Where the Sidewalk Begins

 

The film is the culmination of the
interdisciplinary work of an artist and a lawyer, two people who look
at the world in different ways. The result, says Horodyski, is highly
engaging. “I’m really excited.”

 

The film is a co-presentation of Cinemars and Osgoode Hall Law School’s Collaborative Urban Research Laboratory
(CURL). Zumbansen is the director of CURL and is the Canada Research
Chair in Transnational & Comparative Law of Corporate Governance at
Osgoode.

 

Where the Sidewalk Begins was created using the new HD technology in CURL, a program of the Critical Research Laboratory, a
research facility for interdisciplinary and multimedia research on
transnational and urban governance, political economy and culture. CURL
has a state-of-the-art digital and traditional film, photo and video
production facility, complemented by film and sound editing suites, a
meeting room, work stations and a screening room.

 

“The
interaction and collaboration between law, urban studies and film
provides a richer, more layered perspective on the evolution and many
faces of the city and the University,” says Zumbansen. “Seen through
the artist's eyes, city and University regain their symbolic dimension,
inviting the viewer to reflect on the prospects and promises of what
cities and universities stand for.”

 

A reception and introduction to Where the Sidewalk Begins
will take place Wednesday, June 17 at 7pm in the CIBC Lobby of the
Accolade East Building, Keele campus, with special guest Mark
Osbaldeston, the author of Unbuilt Toronto: A History of the City that Might Have Been, talking about the past 50 years in the city. The screening will begin at 8pm in the Price Family Cinema.

 

RSVP to Joanne Rappaport, research coordinator, Osgoode Hall Law School, at jrappaport@osgoode.yorku.ca.