Carpe Diem

A stylish short opera about environmental disaster.

On board a direct flight from Houston to Fort McMurray, the capital of the Alberta tar sands, the vice president of a fictitious oil company finds his world collapsing around him as the oil market goes into a tailspin.

Investors get antsy and he is assailed by the environmental logic of a two-headed fish. An operatic hors- d’oeuvre.

Produced with a grant awarded by bravoFACT (Foundation to Assist Canadian Talent), a division of Bell Media Inc.

Creative team

Director: Brenda Longfellow
Producer: Geordie Sabbagh

Director’s statement

Brenda Longfellow says:

After spending three years completing a conventional film on the environmental crisis (Weather Report, 2007), which had exactly zero impact, I began to think about approaching the issue of climate change from an entirely different perspective.

What if all our notions of informed debate and rational discussion were meaningless next to the overwhelming and entrenched power of the oil regime in which we all live and from which we all benefit to greater and lesser degrees? What if instead of the one dimensional politics of denunciation, we use humour and irony as a way to address our seeming incapacity to change? Why not go completely over the top and use opera with a two-headed singing fish as the perfect embodiment of the perversity of our allegiance to oil?

It seemed to me that using opera to raise questions concerning the social impact of the Alberta tar sands development allows the film to highlight the epic, even mythic, aspects of this collective act of hubris. Given the planet-changing implications of the tar sands, an aesthetic tone of black comedy seems uncannily appropriate.”

About Brenda Longfellow

Brenda-Longfellow

Brenda is an award-winning filmmaker, film theorist and professor in the Department of Film at York University.

In 2008 she completed Weather Report a television documentary that explores the effects of climate change on communities around the world.

She has embarked on a series of musical shorts exploring the complex weave of delusion, dream and willful complicity that inform the evolution of the tar sands in Northern Alberta. Carpe Diem is the first in this series.

Her previous productions include Our Marilyn (1987), an experimental documentary on Canadian swimmer Marilyn Bell; the feature-length drama Gerda (1992); A Balkan Journey/Fragments From The Other Side of War (1996); the Genie award-winning documentary Shadow Maker: Gwendolyn MacEwen, Poet (1998); and Tina in Mexico (2002), a feature documentary on the silent film star and avant-garde photographer Tina Modotti.

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