David Rimmer, filmmaker, photographer (born 20 January 1942 in Vancouver, BC; died 27 January 2023). David Rimmer was an exemplary craftsperson and one of the finest technicians in experimental filmmaking. His work is consistently subtle and intricate, and often rather sly. Rimmer worked extensively with contact and optical printing and with videographics (in, for example, Divine Mannequin, 1989). He was one of the most consistent, most painstaking film artists in Canada.
Rimmer's apprenticeship was spent making films that evoke the ecstasies of contemplation such as Square Inch Field (1968), Landscape (1969) and Migration (1969). He then began making self-reflexive pieces that explore the nature of film materials and how the medium constructs illusions of movement, depth and presence, e.g., Seashore (1971), Watching for the Queen (1973), Surfacing on the Thames (1970) and the often-screened Variations on a Cellophane Wrapper (1970), which became something of signature piece for Rimmer. Other early films show a remarkable sensibility to the concrete realities of the particular locale in which he found himself — the beauty of the British Columbia landscape and Vancouver harbour (Canadian Pacific, 1974, and Canadian Pacific II, 1975), or the colour of New York Street life (Real Italian Pizza, 1971).
In 1979, with the release of Al Neil: A Portrait, a study of an eccentric Vancouver jazz pianist, his work diverged into two new directions. After 1979, he made innovative documentaries, sometimes in film and sometimes in video. These documentaries are primarily of two sorts: travel films such as Black Cat White Cat (1989) and Perestroika (1992); and studies of performance and performance artists like Sisyphus and Roadshow (1987) and Under the Lizards (1995).
At the same time, Rimmer's experimental films took on a more expressive dimension. Several of them have a quiet, menacing quality unique in cinema. Particular mention should be made of Bricolage (1974), As Seen on TV (1986), Codes of Conduct (1997) and especially the extremely impressive Local Knowledge (1992), a film that expresses Rimmer’s fine skills both in working with found footage and in rendering the landscape in the service of an absolutely chilling work. Occasionally though, with such works as Along the Road to Altamira (1986) and Beaubourg Boogie-Woogie (1991), Rimmer returned to making films that reflect the ecstatic enjoyment of the phenomenal world.
See also Experimental Film.