Format: 16mm Colour/Black & White
Runtime: 87 min
Collaborative Effort Productions Company
Peter Mettler’s first feature, a student film produced at Ryerson Polytechnic Institute in Toronto (at a cost of just $20,000), is a daring experiment with narrative form. In an exercise that was to influence much of his future work, particularly Top of His Head (1989), Mettler sustains a single subjective point of view throughout the film.
The story follows three characters who are related to each other only in the mind of Scissere (Greg Kratz), who has just been released from a heroin rehabilitation clinic after a long confinement. One of the three is also an addict, a wretched figure who blankly strokes his electric guitar and wanders aimlessly through each day. Another is a young mother who leaves her three-year-old child with a friend so she can have a short holiday, just a day on her own. The third is an entomologist who makes a breakthrough discovery of a rare species of insect.
Employing an impressive range of cinematic techniques and materials, Mettler’s formal strategy invites viewers to participate in Scissere’s construction and perception of reality. This process raises the film from pure experiment to profound statement. The film is, in Mettler’s words, “a study of the order in confusion, a reconstruction of a person’s perception of himself and of his experience.” Laurinda Hartt, writing in Cinema Canada, declared that Scissere “resembles the silent film classic The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari but with a caring twist and with less of an interest in the psychotic distortions of madness than in the illusion of the need for a greater awareness of ourselves and of each other, and for a deeper, warmer sense of humanity in an increasingly difficult world.”
Scissere screened at numerous film festivals around the world, including its premiere as a Toronto Festival of Festivals (now Toronto International Film Festival®) Special Presentation. It won three awards, including the Norman McLaren Award for Best Film, at the Canadian Student Film Festival.