Mark Lewis’ film, Standing Ovation on Suffern Lake Saskatchewan, is a recent example of his minimal and precise approach to film. Not always in plain sight are profound references to historical events, the history of cinema and the tradition of painting. Along the lines of his previous works, Standing Ovation consists of a single shot, with no sound or camera motion. Set against a wintery grey landscape, a lonesome hockey player is seen moving a puck across a single ice patch as if practicing a set of plays or passing time. As the film advances, a small crowd emerges from the woods, greeting the player with an unusually sustained outpour of applause and emotion. At first, she appears unfazed by this bold reception, but eventually, she begins to play to her fans, forming an intimate and cryptic exchange between the two.
This film was shot in Saskatchewan, the birthplace of Canadian professional ice hockey player, Gordon Howe. On February 5, 1980, during his final season, Howe stepped out on the ice in Detroit, Michigan in front of 21,000 fans, the largest crowd ever to witness a hockey game at that time. They cheered and roared for 4 straight minutes. Asked to reflect on this overwhelming moment, Howe responded: “I was very emotional and the fans were getting to me… I had the same feelings for the fans as they had towards me.”
Recommended Age: Grade 3 and up
- The hockey player is suited up in typical hockey gear, except for one important element–she is not wearing a helmet and her long hair whips around her face as she skates from one end of the ice patch to the other.
- Why do you think the artist chose to outfit the main figure in this way?
- Do you think the people in the cheering crowd are really there, or are they a figment of the hockey player’s imagination?
- What do you imagine the player is feeling in the first half of the film when she is alone, versus the second half when the crowd is cheering her on?
- If you could ask the artist a question about the piece, what would you like to know?