Interview: Ann Marie Fleming

The Brief


Ann Marie Fleming is a filmmaker, visual artist, and writer. Her past projects include The Magical Life of Long Tack Sam, an award-winning documentary about her great-grandfather – a renowned acrobat, magician, and vaudeville performer. Fleming subsequently wrote a memoir with the same name, which received The Doug Wright Award. Her latest film, Window Horses, follows a young poet’s journey to perform at a festival in Iran, taking in themes of parenthood, immigration, and peace through poetry along the way. The animation, which features the voices of Sandra Oh and Ellen Page, was chosen for the TIFF Canada’s Top Ten Film Festival.

Which book would you recommend to our readers?
My Name Is Red by Orhan Pamuk. It changes the way you see things.

Which poem would you recommend to our readers?
‘Father’s Old Blue Cardigan’ by Anne Carson. I made assumptions about the narrator and didn’t understand the work on first reading – but now I do, clearly.

Which song would you recommend to our readers?
‘Time in a Bottle’ by Jim Croce. I saw him on The Flip Wilson Show as a kid, and learnt that good things take time and we don’t have enough of it.

Which video artwork would you recommend to our readers?
Billennium Waves by Tang Nannan, a contemporary ‘sanshui’ that I saw recently and was mesmerised by. “Waves are the mountains of the sea, mountains are the waves of the land.”

Which sculptural work would you recommend to our readers?
Bang by Ai Weiwei. A whirl of 886 antique Chinese stools that have been replaced by a new world. You walk through it, but you can’t sit.

Which choreographical work would you recommend to our readers?
Betroffenheit by Crystal Pite and Jonathon Young, which breaks your heart with its experientially stunning exploration of guilt, grief, and trauma.


The following questions relate to our Perspectives column, in which two writers respond to an artwork that they are experiencing for the first time.

Can art erase history?
Art is history. Art creates history.

Is the reception of all art entangled with personal memories?
Yes. Everything is entangled with personal memories!

States of the Arts

The following questions relate to our States of the Arts column, for which each article includes four artworks that share an association with a single nation or territory.

Which Hungarian artwork would you recommend to our readers?
On Body and Soul, a film directed by Ildikó Enyedi. It shows that we don’t just share this planet with each other, we share the same dreams.

Which South African artwork would you recommend to our readers?
More Sweetly Play the Dance, a multiscreen installation by William Kentridge, uses global references to create a strangely moving portrait of violence.

The art of discovery

The following questions relate to Silent Frame’s aim to celebrate the art of discovery.

For you, is artistic discovery a private or shared experience, and why?
Art lets us know that what we thought was a private experience is actually a shared experience.

What question would you like to ask other Silent Frame interviewees?
What compels you?

More to discover

Ann Marie Fleming: You can view the website of Sleeping Dog Films, Ann Marie Fleming’s animation company, here. You can watch a trailer for The Magical Life of Long Tack Sam here, and the trailer for Window Horses here.

Chris Robinson has interviewed Fleming for BFI, as have Scott Macaulay for Filmmaker Magazine, Matt Tanner for SMITH Magazine, and Rachel Montpelier for Women and Hollywood.

Today’s recommendations: My Name Is Red (excerpt), ’Father’s Old Blue Cardigan’ (poem), ‘Time in a Bottle’ (song), Billennium Waves (video stills), Bang (images of the artwork), Betroffenheit (trailer), On Body and Soul (trailer), More Sweetly Play the Dance (excerpt).

Also on Silent Frame