Ron Mann was born in Toronto in 1958. He began making short films while in high school and studied briefly at Vermont’s Bennington College before receiving a B.A. in film from the University of Toronto. His 1973 student film, The Strip, remains one of the best and most cheerful records of Toronto’s then notoriously tawdry Yonge Street strip. Mann´s feature debut, a breakthrough documentary called Imagine The Sound, was released in 1981. It was the story of the avant-garde jazz movement, as told by musicians Cecil Taylor, Paul Bley and Archie Shepp. Imagine The Sound established the predominant focus of his work: marginalized or neglected cultural movements. Subsequent subjects range from beat poetry and its influences (Poetry in Motion,) and comic books (Comic Book Confidential) to dance crazes (Twist), marijuana (Grass), customized cars (Tales of the Rat Fink), and fungus (Know Your Mushrooms). Mann’s work is profoundly involved with social and cultural issues, and, as filmmaker Jim Shedden once pointed out, operates on the principle of synecdoche, with a part or aspect of something representing the whole.
In 2002, Mann launched a distribution company called Films We Like, which specializes in smaller, marginalized titles, including many works by highly respected filmmakers like Jia Zhang-ke, Apichatpong Weerasethakul and Guy Maddin.
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