Super 8 Filmmaker John Porter, Toronto, Canada
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documents the alternative film scene in Toronto & beyond
Long-serving Executive Director of Toronto's
Roberto had been a filmmaker since 1995.
Equipment & Workshop Coordinator of LIFT 1997-2003,
BELOW: The Globe & Mail - October 4, 2006;
Halifax Chronicle Herald - August 15, 2006;
Toronto Daily Star - August 15, 2006.
Speech delivered by John Porter at LIFT's Community Memorial
Some of you will be happy to hear that in my last conversation with Roberto, just days before he left on vacation, he gave me a real tongue-lashing. And it wasn’t the first time. My response to him then, and on one earlier occasion was: “Roberto, you have a lot of nerve, saying that to me!”
But that nerve was one of the many things we loved about him. He was more willing than most people in the arts community to speak his mind. And as David Poole said at the funeral, you didn’t mind losing an argument with Roberto because he did it with humour and affection. David Poole has for years been the Media Arts Officer at The Canada Council for the Arts, LIFT’s largest funder, and obviously Roberto would argue with him, and win!
When I first met Roberto more than 10 years ago, he
made a very strong impression on me. I realize now that he was
already over 30 years old then when he entered Toronto’s independent
film community through his friend Chris Gehman, but he seemed
much younger. He talked as if he had surveyed the scene carefully, and
he told me that he thought the Canadian Filmmakers Distribution Centre
was sick, and needed help, and he wanted to change things. I told him
that I was excited to hear this from somebody new to the community,
that I was glad he had arrived, and that he gave me renewed hope.
I want to thank Deirdre Logue for being such
a good media spokesperson for us last week, when it was most difficult
for her. She expressed our feelings eloquently. For example, she said:
“Roberto had so much joie de vivre, he could drive us all
nuts!”, and she said “He had a luminous personality
but sometimes had a hard time getting out of the way.” But my
favourite Deirdre quote is: “After this, none of us will be
the same". And that has been a recurring theme in people’s
comments. At the evening wake in the park after the funeral, someone
wrote on the posted sign: “Everything has changed!”
Others have asked “What will we do now?”
Our bewilderment is not just because Roberto was such a large presence, but also because nothing like this has ever happened to us before - the sudden death of a current, long-serving director of a large Toronto artist-run centre. We have no experience, and LIFT in particular will need a lot of support and assistance in their coming struggle. Fortunately for them, having Roberto as Executive Director has resulted in them having an entire staff which has also been steady and long-serving, and consequently experienced in their jobs. We pray for them, and for whoever will have the courage to come and sit at Roberto’s desk. God bless them.
ROBERTO ARIGANELLO, FILMMAKER 1961-2006
TORONTO -- Roberto Ariganello was at once a filmmaker and the heart and soul of a tiny, obscure co-operative dedicated to producing short, contemporary art films for an equally small and arcane audience.
An artist in his own right who laboured at deeply personal
projects, he was devoted to his role as the executive director of the
Liaison of Independent Films of Toronto, a group that celebrates movies
rejected by the Toronto International Film Festival.
His friend and colleague, Deirdre Logue, said his influence
and impact on the national film community was immeasurable. It was not
unusual for him to deliver film equipment to various artistic communities
across Canada. In a recent edition of LIFT's magazine, Film Print, he
described a trip he made to a Moose Cree First Nations community in
Northern Ontario in March. "Our goal is to create a media arts
centre in the North," he wrote. "So I drove a minivan filled
with a 16 mm Steenbeck, sound bench, 16 mm projector and workshop supplies
. . . across the frozen Moose river to Moose Factory."
Roberto Ariganello was the son of Nicolina and Giuseppe Ariganello, an Italian couple who arrived in Canada in 1951. The youngest of seven children, he sometimes went missing from the family's apartment in Toronto's west end. As it happened, his mother would invariably look out the window to see him toting heavy bags of groceries up the hill for the old women and men who lived in their building. As a boy, he also came to know personal loss. His sister Connie died when he was five and his parents died within a year of each other while he was in his teens.
Mr. Ariganello graduated from Ryerson University's media
studies program in Toronto in 1994 and began exhibiting his work in
Mr. Ariganello was critical of what he described as the
film industry's current obsession with new digital technology. "Roberto
was the spark that began my love of Super 8," said filmmaker Siue
Moffat. "I had only worked with 16 mm before going into LIFT one
day and tentatively inquiring with him."
Mr. Ariganello's last film, which is still in production, tells the story of his grandfather who emigrated to Argentina from Italy in the 1920s. Mr. Ariganello, who twice went to Argentina to gather material, envisioned it as an experimental documentary recounting historical events that significantly contributed to his own sense of self and nationality. His dream was to see it premiered at TIFF or even as his own Salon des Refusé.
Roberto Ariganello was born in Thunder Bay, Ont. on July 20, 1961. He died of drowning on Aug. 13, 2006. He was swimming at Tea Lake, near Halifax. He had gone to Nova Scotia to drop off donated film equipment to the Atlantic Filmmakers Co-operative. He is survived his sisters Maria, Ness, Terry, and JoAnne, and by his brother Tony.
Toronto filmmaker drowns in Nova Scotia
HALIFAX—Roberto Ariganello, a Toronto filmmaker, drowned while swimming on the weekend, shortly after bringing a truckload of donated editing equipment to Nova Scotia. Ariganello, 45, was swimming with friends Sunday afternoon at a Halifax-area swimming hole when he slipped beneath the surface.
He was executive director of the Liaison of Independent Filmmakers of Toronto. Deirdre Logue, a friend and colleague, said she and Ariganello's friends were reeling over his death. "It's really, really tragic," she said yesterday, her voice cracking with emotion. "It's terrible." Logue said Ariganello drove to Nova Scotia from Toronto last week to drop off the equipment to the Atlantic Filmmakers Co-operative. "Roberto always says yes," she said. "He figures out places that need stuff and then takes it to them — it's incredible." Logue, who runs the Canadian Filmmakers Distribution Centre out of the same downtown building on East Liberty St., said Ariganello's influence and impact on the national film community is "immeasurable."
Ariganello was to host a free artist talk and animation screening yesterday at the CBC in Halifax. He was to show two of his recent films, Contrafacta and Non-Zymase Pentathlon. "He was an accomplished and dedicated filmmaker," Logue said. "It was his life, it was his passion."
Ariganello was described by family as an avid swimmer, but police said an autopsy determined he suffered "an immediate medical trauma" that caused him to drown. Officials didn't elaborate. His body was recovered by RCMP divers later in the day. Logue said Ariganello's funeral will take place Friday in Ontario.
Drowning victim a filmmaker.
Roberto Ariganello was a generous man who loved making films, helping others and living life to the fullest. The 45-year-old Toronto man drowned Sunday afternoon while swimming with two friends at Purcells Pond in Halifax. Mr. Ariganello, a renowned filmmaker dedicated to developing and promoting the art, drove from Ontario to Nova Scotia early last week to drop off donated editing equipment to the Atlantic Filmmakers Cooperative.
"He was actually there because he drove a rental van with a flatbed Steinbeck in the back," Deirdre Logue, a close friend and colleague, said from Toronto early Monday evening. She said Mr. Ariganello, who was the executive director of the Liaison of Independent Filmmakers of Toronto, collected used film equipment and delivered it to organizations in need of support. "Roberto always says yes," Ms. Logue said. "He figures out places that need stuff and then takes it to them — it’s incredible."
Ms. Logue, who runs the Canadian Film Makers Distribution Centre out of the same downtown Toronto building, said Mr. Ariganello’s influence and impact on the national film community is "immeasurable." Within the Toronto media arts community, he was considered to be "the one and only film guy" and a strong advocate, she said. "He’s been extraordinary. He’s been involved in everybody’s projects . . . (and) in a variety of different organizations." He was also an active board member of the Independent Media Arts Alliance, she said.
Mr. Ariganello was scheduled to host a free artist talk and recent animation screening Monday evening at the CBC Radio Building on Sackville Street, where he would have shown two of his recent films, Contrafacta and Non-Zymase Pentathlon. The event was planned as part of the Atlantic Filmmakers Cooperative’s Cinema X Week "aimed at exploring film as a form of expression and experimentation," a news release said. The release also said Mr. Ariganello had completed six short films "that explore those characteristics which are unique to film" and that he had been working on a documentary called Will the Circle be Unbroken? "about his grandfather’s life and crimes in Argentina."
"He was an accomplished and dedicated filmmaker," Ms. Logue said. "It was his life, it was his passion." She said Mr. Ariganello was an artist who never sold out, instead choosing to share his time with others in the community. "He’s one of those artists who believed in the larger cultural context within which he worked and its value." She said the sudden loss of such an important and unique figure in the film community is "really crippling" and will be "felt forever." Ms. Logue said she and his other friends are reeling. "It’s really, really tragic," she said, her voice cracking. "It’s terrible."
Roy Mitchell, executive director of Trinity Square Video in Toronto, described Mr. Ariganello as being very much like a brother. "Oh, Roberto was a total dude," he remembered fondly with a chuckle. "He had a lot of bravado. "He was loved by a lot of people because he helped a lot of people," Mr. Mitchell said. "He believed in his medium so strongly and believed in people making work and really was inspiring.
Mr. Ariganello drowned off Purcells Cove Road in the remote swimming hole, referred to by some as Tea Lake, on Sunday while enjoying a sunny day there with two other men. "Mr. Ariganello was swimming in the lake with friends just after 3 p.m. when he disappeared below the water," a news release issued Monday by Halifax Regional Police said. "His friends attempted to locate him without success." Regional police and Halifax RCMP, paramedics and fire crews from numerous departments responded to a 911 call from one of Mr. Ariganello’s friends. An RCMP dive team recovered his body from the pond at about 8:30 p.m. Mr. Ariganello’s family told police he was an avid swimmer. Police said an autopsy conducted Monday morning indicated that a "sudden medical trauma" resulted in Mr. Ariganello "slipping below the water."
Ms. Logue said Mr. Ariganello’s funeral will take place Friday in Ontario.