Calgary 2010, 4:56, Dir: Xstine Cook
By letting children staff the kitchen of a satiric cooking show that demonstrates how to make Tar Sand Pudding, Xstine Cook makes her social criticism as infectiously enjoyable as it is unequivocal. In other hands this might have come off as just a record of a performance artwork, but Cook transcends mere documentation, achieving a real sense of immediacy as she captures the ingenuous energy and enthusiasm of children at play. Keep an eye out for the almost surreal presence of the pink bunny. Whatever your position on the Alberta oil/tar/job sands development, this piece of activist mayhem will likely make you chuckle in spite of yourself. After all, there’s no denying the pudding the grown-ups are making is bad for the ducks.
Calgary-based artist Xstine Cook works in a very wide range of creative métiers, including mask making and puppetry, which she has studied in Bali, Italy, France, California, and Canada. She is the Artistic Director and Founder of the Calgary Animated Objects Society, and the Curator of Calgary’s International Festival of Animated Objects, a biennial, ten-day festival of mask and puppetry. Also an experimental theatre artist, Cook recently began making short puppet films. Her trilogy Face and Mooks at Home was shown at the National Gallery as part of Alberta Scene, and Dead Boyfriends has received screenings at film festivals internationally. Tar Sand Pudding, Cook’s fourth film, is the first with her daughters Maezy, Medina and Zaiyah, aged 7, 5 and 3 respectively. She’s currently in post-production for Suckathumb, a live-action, animated puppet film based on the gothic children’s poetry of Heinrich Hoffman.