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Art • Economics • Anthropology • Philosophy • Sociology
RECOMMENDED - Educational Media Resources Online | RECOMMENDED - Library Journal | BEST FEATURE DOCUMENTARY - Full Bloom Film Festival
Date of Completion: 2018 | Run Time: 90 minutes | Language: English subtitles | Captions: Yes | Includes: Transcript | Director: Robin McKenna | Producers: Robin McKenna & Ina Fichman
Inspired by Lewis Hyde’s beloved classic The Gift: Creativity and the Artist in the Modern World, GIFT is a richly cinematic film, interweaving character‐driven stories. On North America's Pacific Northwest Coast, a young indigenous man undertakes the elaborate preparations for a potlatch - to make a name for himself by giving everything away. In Rome, Italy, a factory occupied by migrant families is transformed into a living museum, protected by a barricade of art: a model of resistance, and an invaluable gift. In the pirate utopia of Burning Man, a mutant bumblebee art car distributes honey in a post-apocalyptic desert landscape. Meanwhile, in Auckland, New Zealand, artist Mingwei Lee prepares to launch Sonic Blossom - a “transformative gift” of song.
GIFT is a tribute to something that can’t be measured or counted, bought or sold. Exploring the parallels between artists’ work and a gift economy, it’s a reflection on the creative process, the reasons we “labour in service of our gifts”, and a celebration of the imagination.
Educational Media Reviews Online (EMRO) | Reviewed by Barb Kundanis, Longmont Public Library
"GIFT discusses the various aspects of giving and receiving (or not accepting). Beautifully photographed, this film is strong in its depiction of how art is tied into the philosophy of giving and the concept of our place in the world regarding generosity of spirit. Viewers will appreciate this glimpse into an alternative way of connecting with people."
Library Journal | Amanda Westfall, Emmet O'Neal Library
"Recommended for art and philosophy lovers. This film is especially valuable for its profile of the late Alfred (1981–2016)."
New York University | Faye Ginsburg, David B. Kriser Professor of Anthropology
"A beautifully crafted film and such a thoughtful exploration of the idea of The Gift... I especially loved the potlatch segment."
The New York Times
"At a time when art is relentlessly commercialized and commodified, Robin McKenna's GIFT provides a gentle and welcome reminder of other values."
The Boston Globe
"Robin McKenna’s elliptical, poetic, and visually arresting GIFT examines the radical concept that creativity is not a commodity to be sold but a blessing to be shared."
Terry Tempest Williams, Author & Environmentalist
"Thank you for this magisterial film, subtle as it is on the revolutionary nature of art and the power forged when we honor our gifts and give them away. A dream, a meditation, a call to action."
Buy Nothing Project
"Robin McKenna's GIFT delves into the truth and beauty of gift economy thinking. This is the film we've always wanted to make and here it is!"
Metta Earth Institute
"The gift economy is one of the most inspiring returns to deep, original culture. And it's not far off or impossible. Parents engage in the gift economy every day...unpaid, loving contributions to others. Does a ripe raspberry ask you to pay before offering itself to you?"
"GIFT is a poetic outlook on gift economies through art and cultural practices. It follows four storylines linked by creativity, generosity, resistance and defiance."
“Above all, GIFT honours the creative impulse, and asks us to reflect on what art has to offer humanity, regardless of its market value.
American novelist | Jonathan Lethem
“More than a worthy tribute to one of my favorite books, Robin McKenna’s GIFT translates Lewis Hyde’s remarkable notion into new terms. A beautiful, moving, and thought-provoking reflection on the creative process and the things that make us human.”
Best Feature Documentary | Full Bloom Film Festival
Official Selection | Docudays UA
Official Selection | Cinequest Film & Creativity Festival
Official Selection of Le Artfifa | Festival International du film sur l'art
Sheldon Museum of Art
Cleveland Museum of Art
Macro Museum for Contemporary Art
Speed Art Museum
Scugog First Nation
Winter Film Series, National Gallery of Australia
REQUEST A GOOD TALK WITH ROBIN MCKENNA
Director & Producer of GIFT
Robin McKenna is director, producer and writer of GIFT, a feature-length documentary and crossmedia project inspired by Lewis Hyde’s classic bestseller The Gift. GIFT, a richly cinematic film interweaving character‐driven stories, is a tribute to something that can’t be measured or counted, bought or sold. Exploring the parallels between artists’ work and a gift economy, it’s a reflection on the creative process, the reasons we “labour in service of our gifts”, and a celebration of the imagination. Recently she directed a short film with actress Geneviève Bujold, produced by the Canada’s National Film Board for the Governor General’s Awards. She is currently making THANADOULA, a short animated documentary fairytale, about a real-life “death doula” who finds her calling through the loss of her beloved older sister. She is producer and director of MEDICINE, a feature-length documentary about ayahuasca, medicine and healing, for release in 2019. Robin grew up in Montréal, Canada, and began making films with LA COURSE DESTINATION MONDE, travelling around the world alone with a camera making short, creative documentaries. Her film THE GREAT WAR EXPERIENCE won Yorkton Film Festival’s Founders’ Award in 2007. She has directed award-winning series for networks in the US and Canada, and her cinematography credits include CITY OF BORDERS (Berlinale, Hot Docs 2009) and THE TAKE with Naomi Klein and Avi Lewis (AFI Best Documentary 2004). She is an alumnus of Hot Docs’ Doc Lab, and has been a filmmaker-mentor in indigenous communities with Wapikoni Mobile.