in the form of the letter 'x'3








Passed away in Ithaca, NY on February 5, 2014, age 60. Mourned by his sons Sam Cartmell and Finn Jazzbo Cartmell and by his partner Sandra Kelley. Filmmaker, Photographer, Craftsman, Writer, Chef, Wine-lover, Musician, Baseball Fan. Brother of Deborah Cartmell (Ian Bradley), uncle of Hester and Jake Bradley. Predeceased by parents, Roy Cartmell and Jayne Cartmell (nee Chilman). Also deeply saddened by Mike’s death is a wide circle of friends who will miss his sharp intellect, encyclopedic knowledge, hilarious mimicry, sardonic humour, brilliant cooking, emotional support in times of need, intense conversation, gruff disposition, eclectic taste. Special thanks to the staff of the Cayuga Medical Center Oncology Unit for their compassionate care. Donations in Mike’s name may be directed to the Canadian Filmmakers Distribution Centre (

“Mike Cartmell, from Hamilton, Ontario, began making Super 8 films in 1973 with his own equipment. He studied philosophy and politics at the University of Toronto 1971-1976, and cultural studies at the State University of New York, Buffalo, 1976-1979. In 1979 he began shooting and exhibiting photography, and became more serious about his filmmaking. He programmed Zone Cinema in Hamilton from 1981 to 1984, then moved to Toronto and joined the Canadian Filmmakers Distribution Centre and the Funnel.” John Porter, Cache du Cinema Notes


Mike Cartmell – filmmaker statement (winter 1987-88)

“My work as a filmmaker is pitched on a terrain demarcated by history (personal and communal), sexuality, and language. Uncertainties surrounding my own origin due to foundlinghood and adoption led to a fascination with ancestry, genealogy, descent. My filmmaking is concerned with the issue of its/my parentage, and often finds itself up against the problematic of origin/originality: this has much to do with the modes of adaptation I’ve investigated in some of my films, and with the ongoing interest in proper names.

I come to filmmaking from a cultural studies/critical theory background and so, not surprisingly, I’m very interested in the issue of the relation(s) between the theoretical and the productive in artmaking. This seems to me a crucial question for contemporary culture (for “post-modernism” if you will), and however difficult and contradictory the fit(s) found between the two, the articulation of theory and practice remains a site of profound exhilaration and challenge.”

home movie fragment by Vincent Grenier



Mike Cartmell – CV



At A Standstill, But Not Without Hope
Drowned, They Said, On the Batchawana (video with Michael Nelson)
Quartet (video)
Starker (video)

Not Available for Screening
Shipwreck Theory I (The Reading) (video series) work-in-progress
Clay Shards Bind Clay (video, 2004) 8 min
Blin (video, 2005) 33 min
Art by Riven (video, 2007) 9 min
Shipwreck Theory II (The Writing) (video series) work-in-progress
The Science of Singularity (video, 2004) 8 min
What Talking Means (video, 2006) 7 min
O, Fortuna (video, 2007) 14 min
Room (video, 2007) 5 min
Ithaka (video, 2001) 17 min
Ithaca (video, 2000) 11 min
I Built a Cottage For Susan and Myself (video, 1993) 11 min
Cartouche (16mm, 1985) 8 min
In the Form of the Letter X (16mm, 1985) 5 min
Prologue: Infinite Obscure (16mm, 1984) 20 min

Unreleased Movies
Shipwreck Theory II (The Writing) (video series) work-in-progress
Epistolary (video) 20 min
Shipwreck Theory III (The Knowing) (video series) work-in-progress
Ida Lupino (video) fragments
Tohu Wabohu (video) fragments
Thick Bone Like Katanga (video) fragments
Western (video) fragments
Shipwreck Theory IV (The Meaning) (video series) work-in-progress
Kletis (video) fragments
Vocables (video) fragments
Non-Compatibles (video, 2002) 57 min
Farrago (16mm, 1989) fragments
Diary of Kitty Lo (video, 1987) 25 min (with Jill Glessing)

Reservoir (16mm, 1983) 6 min
Read Memory Entire (S8mm, 1982) 11 min
Check Theory Girls Enticed (S8mm, 1982) 6 min
Woman Water Huron Goodbye (S8mm, 1981) 14 min
Katus Interruptus (16mm, 1980) 4 min



“Experience Torn To Shreds / Experiments From The Granary” (catalog article for Vincent Grenier: A Retrospective) (New York: Anthology Film Archives, 1992)
“Landscape With Shipwreck” in Sandlos and Hoolboom (eds.) Landscape With
Shipwreck: First Person Cinema and the Films of Philip Hoffman (Toronto: Insomniac Press, 2001)
“Stet” in CineAction! Number 57, 2002 (on Hoffman’s What These Ashes Wanted)
“I Come Here For The Rites Of Your Unworlding” in Hoolboom and McSorley (eds.) Life Without Death: The Cinema of Frank Cole (Toronto: Coach House Press, 2009)
“Flintmaker” in Now as a Bird, Now as a Worm, Now as a Plant , ed. Mike Hoolboom, 2012.


Secret Writing / Uncompleted

Disasterologies (book?)
“I Am Evelyn” (on David Gatten)
“Let Me Take My Chances On The Wall Of Death” (on Vincent Grenier)
“Cadavers” (on Maurice Blanchot)
“The Fragment Asks A Question” (on Maurice Blanchot)
“Love’s Black Sail” (on Susan Howe)
“How To Film A Poem” (on Susan Howe)
“Sans” (on Chris Marker)
“Orphanhoodedness” (on Herman Melville)
“Tats” (on Herman Melville)
“Plump Upon Billy Lieutenant Radcliffe Pounced” (on Melville)
“The Making Of The Making” (on Francis Ponge)
Non Facilis Descensus Averni” (on depression)
“Bone Deep In The Sunken Ark Of Bones” (memoir?)
“Seeking And Not Finding And Seeking And” (on blues)


A typewriter written version of Mike Cartmell’s CV from April 1986