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.
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 artist and carver 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 Lee Mingwei 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.
"A beautiful, moving, and thought-provoking reflection on the creative process and the things that make us human.”
“Marvelous and inspiring”
-Lewis Hyde, author of The Gift
“GIFT presents us with a rare opportunity to escape the relentless logic of the market and to reclaim a little bit of our human freedom.”
“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.”
“GIFT is [a film] worth watching, and a must-see if you are an artist.”
-Laurette Folk, Compassion Anthology
“A beautifully crafted film and such a thoughtful exploration of the idea of The Gift.”
-Faye Ginsburg, David B. Kriser Professor of Anthropology, New York University
Robin McKenna is director, producer, and writer of GIFT. She is currently making Thanadoula, a short animated documentary fairytale about a real-life “death doula”, in co-production with the National Film Board of Canada - and Medicine, a feature-length documentary over a decade in the making, about ayahuasca, medicine, and healing, with Dr. Gabor Maté. She directed Genevieve Bujold: Art=Vie, a short film tribute to Bujold on 16mm, for the Governor General’s Awards for the Performing Arts in 2018.
Robin grew up in Montréal and began making films with La course destination monde. Her cinematography credits include City of Borders (Berlinale, Hot Docs 2009) and The Take with Naomi Klein and Avi Lewis (AFI Best Documentary 2004).
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