Musician/filmmaker strives to showcase ugly-beauty of St. John’s

Heidi Wicks
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Rozalind MacPhail

It’s no secret that the local film community is as colourful as our row houses.

Flutist-filmmaker Rozalind MacPhail’s new project, “Painted Houses,” is a collection of 13 short films by St. John’s filmmakers that highlight some aspect of the city’s magic, and their love/hate of winter in this city.

MacPhail says the idea came to her on New Year’s Eve as she was trying to imagine what 2011 would look like.

“I’ve been trying to write an album which includes short film, flute-friendly soundscapes. I was also trying to come up with something that would share my passion for my new home,” she said. “There is so much talent in this city and I am constantly saying to people, ‘Is there anyone here who can’t do something artistic?’

“Being creative is such an essential part of the Newfoundland culture and it’s why I was so excited to move here.”

The Toronto-native invited a group of both emerging and established filmmakers (including Shannon Cymbaly, Roger Maunder, Ruth Lawrence, Brad Gover, Ed Tanysychuk and more) who are living in St. John’s to shoot a short, silent film for which she would provide the soundtrack — some films are in black and white Super 8, and others were shot with digital cameras in full colour. She also included her own film, “MoJo in Flatrock.”

MacPhail cited lots of snow, the beauty of the town and the people who make it special, the stores she loves and the pets she adores as aspects of the films which forced her to break outside of her musical boundaries and try new things.

One film features the voice of CBC weatherman Ryan Snodden as part of the soundtrack. In Sherry Ryan and Phil Goodland’s film, “Yum,” MacPhail took all of her kitchen utensils and recorded percussive sounds, creating a kitchen utensil looping piece.


Showcase will travel to Dawson City

Although primarily a musician, MacPhail has dabbled in filmmaking for a couple of years. She has been invited to the Dawson City International Short Film Festival to screen this collection of films as she performs the music live.

“It will be so wonderful to share the magic of St. John’s with so many people who have never had the opportunity to visit this beautiful city,” she said.

Despite the success MacPhail has had with “Painted Houses” so far, there is one challenge — she needs to raise enough money to purchase a $2,500 plane ticket to Dawson City.

Screening the films is a fantastic way to bring the work and beauty of the city to an international audience, so it’s important that she be able to make the trip.

So in addition to showcasing the work, the “Painted Houses” launch is a way of raising the funds for travel. The films will also screen this summer in Ontario at the Electric Eclectics Music Festival.

As for MacPhail, she’s tempted to do a sequel project about St. John’s in the summer — one that no doubt would be filled with more love than hate.

The “Painted Houses” launch party takes place Thursday at the Ship Inn. Doors open at 9 p.m. Admission is $10.

Organizations: CBC, Ship Inn

Geographic location: Newfoundland, Toronto, Flatrock Dawson CityAlthough Dawson City Ontario

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Recent comments

  • dm
    April 06, 2011 - 13:43

    I just went on the website for the Festival but can't find anything relevant to this article. When is it? $25oo sounds outrageous for airfare, is this the correct amount? Sounds odd to me.

    • Rozalind MacPhail
      April 08, 2011 - 17:14

      You should be able to find out lots about the screening by checking out: There are further links on their website. Just went to check it out on their site and it's all up there. Yes, the plane ticket will indeed cost $2500 to get to Dawson City and back. It's over 8500 kms away and requires flying by Air Canada and Air North. The cargo costs for the extra weight of the musical equipment to Dawson will also be a bit steep. It's going to take two full days to get there. Last night's launch in St. John's was so magical. For those of you who were there to experience it, thank you! The people of St. John's warmed my heart last night. : )

    • shannon Cymbaly
      April 26, 2011 - 22:06

      St. John's, NFLD to Dawson City, Yukon... yes the airfare + shipping your musical instruments and equipment to Dawson City... that is the correct amount... unfortunately.... not an easy feat

  • Erella Ganon
    April 06, 2011 - 10:12

    I love this. Thank you. It is always exciting to see fabulous local talent doing wonderful things. Great article, fascinating artist, wonderful-sounding project.

  • Rozalind MacPhail
    April 06, 2011 - 10:00

    Beautiful article Heidi. Thank you for helping get the word out there about this truly collaborative effort. For those of you who may be wondering who took that lovely photo, it's by talented local photographer, Gina Rae Anderson.