Return to tiff.’s home page

Canadian Film Encyclopedia

Shopping Cart


Year: 1983
Language: English
Format: 16mm Colour
Runtime: 158 min
Director: Al Razutis
Producer: Al Razutis
Cinematographer: Al Razutis
Editor: Al Razutis
Sound: Al Razutis
Music: Al Razutis, Tony Giacinti
Cast: Al Razutis, Samantha Hamernes-Coombs, Lincoln Clarkes, Susan Lee-Nova
Production Company: Al Razutis
A key work by Vancouver filmmaker Al Razutis, AMERIKA is a feature-length experimental film created one short film at a time between 1972 and 1983. A series of meditations in the form of abstract or metaphorical images, AMERIKA is a mosaic that expresses the various sensations, myths, landscapes and perversions of industrialized Western culture. It utilizes both original and stock footage and a range of techniques including video-synthesis and optical matte effects.

As Tony Reif, co-editor of The Canadian Journal of Avant-Garde and Political Cinema, has pointed out, "The film’s construction is dialectic: each section amplifies, recontextualizes, and/or contradicts what has come before, through contrasts and similarities of imagery, technique and prominent metaphors... At the perceptual level, AMERIKA magnificently reasserts the sensuousness and malleability of the motion picture image ... [and] consistently calls into question the mass image and its meaning within its ordinary, mass-media context – indeed its ability to convey any meaning beyond the myths co-opted and perpetuated by corporate society."

Some of the film’s individual shorts were released and screened as they were completed. But upon its release in its entirety, AMERIKA was banned by the Ontario Board of Censors, which deemed the sexually explicit segment A Message from Our Sponsor to be obscene. After the film was screened at a festival in Peterborough, Ont., the Ontario Provincial Police seized the prints and charged Razutis and three others with violating the Ontario Theatres Act; the charges against Razutis were dropped, but the three exhibitors were convicted and fined.

However, AMERIKA was exhibited in its entirety in British Columbia and internationally and was named co-winner of the Independent/Experimental Film and Video Award by the Los Angeles Film Critics Association in 1988.

The titles of the individual segments in the order they appear are as follows (N.B. Refrain is seen three times):

Reel One: The Cities of Eden (1976), Software/Head title (1972), Vortex (1972), Atomic Gardening (1981), Motel Row (Part 1) (1981), Refrain (1983), 98.3 KHz: (Bridgeat Electrical Storm (Part 1) (1973), Motel Row (Part 2) (1976)

Reel Two: The Wasteland and Other Stories ... (1976), Refrain (1983), Motel Row (Part 3) (1981), 98.3 KHz: (Bridgeat Electrical Storm(Part 2) (1973), The Wildwest Show (Part 1) (1980), A Message from Our Sponsor (1980), The Wildwest Show (Part 2) (1980), Photo Spot/Terminal Cityscapes (1983)

Reel Three: Refrain (1983), Exiles (1983), The Lonesome Death of Leroy Brown (1983), [FIN]* (1983), O Kanada! (1982)

Related Entries