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by Tom McSorley
from Take One, Fall 1999

Remember the ice storm of January 1988? Dan Sokolowski does. He lived through it. Like any hardy and self-respecting canuck artist who's been awestruck by the power of winter (and the list includes such luminaries as Lawren Harris, Jean-Paul Lemieux and Jean Pierre Lefebvre), Sokolowski has made art out of his elemental encounter. A concise, economical combination of still photographs, sounds of branches straining and cracking, a sliver of animation, and the neutral readings of Environment Canada weather warnings by filmmaker Frank Cole, this modest marvel is a richly detailed, oddly amusing portrait of what were officially described as "ice-paralyzed areas." Beyond the empirical evidence of the stark beauty of the images of this frozen world (trees, road signs, a Canadian flag), Sokolowski's film suggests the sinister and ephermeral quality of all "fixed" forms of language, technology, and even cinema. Part epistemological tone poem, part home movie, and reminiscent of the famed Unit B documentaries of the NFB, Fire & Ice is a meditative, minimalist and startlingly expansive dissection of a natural disaster.

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