Ingrid Veninger is fervently determined to walk her path. And she has tread all the major paths in the film industry, working as an actor, writer, director, producer, and professor. You may have spotted Ingrid’s characteristic dreadlocked bun on the red carpet at TIFF, alongside daughter and frequent collaborator Hallie Switzer. Or perhaps you spotted her as early as the 1990s on La Femme Nikita series. Other well-known projects include Only, Modra, i am a good person/i am bad person, The Animal Project, He Hated Pigeons and Porcupine Lake. Her newest feature film is El Mundo o Nada (The World or Nothing), a first foray into documentary in which Ingrid travels to Spain and follows twin Cuban brothers seeking fame.
I first met Ingrid via Skype nearly seven years ago. I was a baby filmmaker from the States, scanning the skies for people who were making interesting work and didn’t seem like assholes. I breathlessly asked her questions, and she overflowed with encouragement and advice: “You don’t have to wait for permission from anyone to do your art.” Since then, I’ve followed Ingrid’s creative beacon closely and been lucky enough to become friends.
Many people say that each artist stands on the shoulders of giants. But Ingrid doesn’t stand on anyone’s shoulders without offering a hand up. She has a fundamental commitment to empowering other women storytellers. Upon receiving the Jay Scott prize of $5000 in 2011, Ingrid put the money towards empowering Canadian storytellers and launched Toronto’s “1KWave”. Then she did it again while winning the EDA Award at the Whistler Film Festival in 2014, bidding others in the room to invest in six new screenplays by six Canadian women. Melissa Leo stepped up and six original scripts were nurtured through Ingrid’s pUNK FIlms FEMMES LAB. As an inaugural participant at Hedgebrook’s Screenwriters Lab on Whidbey Island, she began work on her sixth feature, Porcupine Lake, a coming-of-age relationship between two girls set in Ontario’s north.
But Ingrid also works outside the binary, collaborating and cross-fertilizing to create stories and narrative structures that have never been seen before. Born in Slovakia, and trained as a dancer in childhood, Ingrid has a unique method for making meaning and telling visual stories. The most interesting thing about Ingrid’s work is how unpredictable it is, and yet authentic. Ingrid is deeply interested in aligning her creative process with the stories she tells. She has been called the “DIY queen of Canadian filmmaking,” the Canuck version of Greta Gerwig and mumblecore royalty. To step into Ingrid’s world is an invitation to chaos. But it’s the kind of chaos that somehow makes you feel right again, more human. This is the kind of artist we need in the world. We need artists who understand that process is intimately connected to product. We need more curiosity, more generosity, more audacity, more originality. And we can trust Ingrid to show us the way.
-Bio written by Bonnie Stinson.
What ‘hood are you in?
I’m in the annex. I’ve pretty much lived in the same house since I was 8. Had my first kiss in the backyard, my first break-up on the porch. A tiny house with cracked walks where we feast on my partner’s hearty soups and dance parties break out spontaneously.
What do you do?
Right now, I’m finishing my MFA in Cinema at York University. I teach here and there, travel, listen, learn, trust hunches, and plunge into the belly of film-making with bold, enthusiastic, fearless friends.
What are you currently working on?
I’ve just finished my 7th feature as director, El Mundo o Nada (The World or Nothing) which will have its official world premiere at Hot Docs (April 27, 28 and May 2, 2019). By the time of the festival, I hope more people will be familiar with Sensacion Gemela who are the Cuban twin brothers at the heart of the film.
Where can we find your work?
My films live on iTunes, Amazon, Vimeo VOD and also on the pUNK site at www.punkfilms.ca
Support local artisans and big up to my sisters in film who are screening features in Canadian Spectrum at this year’s Hot Docs: Tasha Hubbard, Emily Gan, Ariella Pahlke, Nance Ackerman, Teresa MacInnes, Rama Rau, Megan Wennberg, Danielle Sturk, Shannon Walsh and Julia Ivanova (a great mushing partner).