Legal Memory

Steele & Tomczak, Lisa Steele and Kim Tomczak

1992, 79:49 minutes, colour, B&W, English


In 1958, Leo Mantha murdered a young man - his lover - on the naval base near Victoria, Canada. The resulting trial revealed their relationship but little more. Leo Mantha was executed in April 1959 and became, as his luck would have it, the last man hanged in Canada's westernmost province British Columbia.
Set in the present, Legal Memory is a story based on these real events. When the main character, Helen, returns to Victoria, her past floods her consciousness unremittingly and she becomes obsessed with reconstructing the events of that fateful summer 30 years ago. The resulting narrative weaves together multiple histories and flashbacks, public testimonies and private voices to "tell" this story. The surprise is not the crime itself but the broad political ramifications that surrounded this deeply personal tragedy. In her quest, Helen learns more than she was prepared for and uncovers an unsavoury moment in Canadian history.

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Critical Writing

Lisa Steele + Kim Tomczak
by Peggy Gale. The Governor General's Awards in Visual and Media Arts 2005, 2005. Toronto: Canada Council for the Arts, 2005.
STEELE - TOMCZAK: Trouble Tracked to the Depths of the Body
by Paul Ardenne. Lisa Steele - Kim Tomczak, 2003. Toronto: Pleasure Dome, 2003.
Interview: Lisa Steele & Kim Tomczak
by Corinna Ghaznavi. Canadian Art, Winter 2000, v. 17, no. 4.
Kim Tomczak: Video Artist
by Roger Matuz. Contemporary Canadian Artists, 1997. Toronto: Gale Canada, 1997.
Lisa Steele: Video Artist
by Roger Matuz. Contemporary Canadian Artists, 1997. Toronto: Gale Canada, 1997.
Legal Memory
by Jane Perdue. Take One, Winter 1993.
Video Collaborators: A report from the interior
by Nelda Rodger and Nina Czegledy. Azure, Nov. 1993, v. 10, no. no. 91.
Last man hanged in B.C. focus of honored film
by Grania Litwin. Times-Colonist, Nov. 22, 1993.
Artists' film re-examines old case
by Nancy Tousley. Calgary Herald, Nov. 5, 1993.
Legal Memory investigates Dark Ages of gay rights
by Katherine Monk. Vancouver Sun, June 4, 1993.
Legal Memory
by Mark Harris. The Georgia Straight, June 4, 1993.
Historic gay sex scandal mined in Legal Memory
by Cameron Bailey. Now, May 20, 1993, v. 12, no. 38.
Jogging the Memory
by Patricia Cuthbert. EYE WEEKLY, May 20, 1993.
Video: Legal Memory
by Regina Cornwell. Canadian Art, Winter 1992, v. 10, no. 1.
Signs of a generational shift on indie production scene
by Cameron Bailey. Now, Dec. 24, 1992, v. 12, no. 17.
Hundreds lost jobs after RCMP hunt for homosexuals
by Dan Beeby. Times-Colonist, 1992.