Canadian media artist Penny McCann's body of work spans more than fifteen years and encompasses both dramatic and experimental modes of practice. Her narrative works: The Sisters (1993/Vtape); The Fires of Joanna (1998/CFMDC); Helpless (2001/CFMDC), and The Professor and the Blind Girl (2009/Vtape), approach drama in highly codified ways, challenging narrative conventions of cinematic realism. Her recent experimental works: Marshlands (2000/Vtape, Away for Christmas (2004/Vtape), and Lake Ontario (in my head) (2006/CFMDC) are part of her ongoing investigation into hybrid forms of expression, mixing film and video imagery to create shifts in subjectivity, memory, and perspective.
Penny's work has received critical notice in such publications as TAKE ONE: Film and Television in Canada, The Globe and Mail, and Canadian Forum magazine, and has won several awards, including a Special Jury Award for The Sisters from the Yorkton Short Film and Video Festival (1994). Her films and videos been exhibited at festivals and galleries nationally and internationally, including the Centre national d’art contemporain (Grenoble, France), Women Make Waves Festival (Taipei, Taiwan), Madcat Women’s International Film Festival (San Francisco), the Canadian Film Institute (Ottawa), the Owens Art Gallery (Sackville, New Brunswick), the Ottawa Art Gallery (Ottawa), the Worldwide Short Film Festival (Toronto), and Festival International du film sur l’art (Montreal).
A long-time activist/worker in the Canadian media and visual arts community, Penny served as president of the Independent Film and Video Alliance from 1996-1999. Since 2004, she has been employed as the Director of SAW Video, a media arts centre located in Ottawa, Ontario. In 2007, in recognition of her contribution to the Ottawa media arts community, Penny was awarded the Victor Tolgesy Award for achievement in the arts.