Martha Davis is a self-taught photographer, independent filmmaker, award-winning children’s book author and retired elementary school teacher (TDSB 1991-2017) based in Toronto. She has worked with both seniors and children, empowering them to fulfill their dreams, virtually, through the magic of green-screen photography.  Davis has run her “DREAM SCENES” programme in seven different seniors’ residences and Long Term Care Homes and in many different schools and daycares since the summer of 2017.  She  has enriched the lives of over 350 seniors and 450 children through the photographs, collages and calendars she has created with them.

A selection of Davis’ “DREAM SCENES” photos of seniors was exhibited in the Scotiabank CONTACT International Photography Festival in Toronto in May, 2019 and again in 2021.  Her solo exhibitions, “DREAM SCENES:  Seniors on the Green Screen” were at the #Hashtag Gallery in Toronto and virtually in the Gallery at the Miles Nadal JCC.  Davis’ work is currently available for purchase or exhibition through “Hello Art!” (https://www.helloart.com).

Since August, 2020, Davis has been running an after-school enrichment program for kids aged 6 to 11 and in the summer of 2022, ran week-long “DREAM SCENES” Photography Camps for kids! The 2000+ photographs she has made with children are in their hands now, decorating fridges, bulletin boards and bedroom walls all over Toronto.

Davis has self-published six books for children of text and photographs using green screen and has won two Writers’ Awards from the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario for her children’s books.  Check out her TROLLOGY:  Three Books about Trolls who Long to Belong at https://www.blurb.ca/b/6886879 or If Pandas could Talk: Conversations with Animals at https://www.blurb.ca/b/5732408.

She is also an accomplished independent filmmaker with 24 shorts and two feature-length films to her credit.  Two of her short films were nominated for Genies and, along with one of her features, have been screened internationally.  Many of her more recent shorts can be viewed on YouTube.  Search “the Martha Tapes.”  In this group of videos, there are two that were made in 1995 with her grade 3 class in an intergenerational program.  One of these, “She was a Mean Old Cat,” has the children acting out the seniors’ strong school memories in the setting of the old-fashioned schoolhouse.  It is poignant and heartbreaking.  See it here: https://youtu.be/u8_xjc-x1pE.  Check out the comment from one of Davis’ former students!

In the summer of 2021, Davis created PANDALAND, an installation of toy pandas, in a public place in her downtown Toronto neighbourhood.  It caused a sensation and became a go-to destination for children and their families.  She made a 14 min. documentary film about PANDALAND which has been screened widely and has garnered several international awards.

“PANDALAND:  Making IT Count” is about how children become engaged and learn to grapple with big social issues.  The filmmaker accomplishes this by encouraging playful exploration in a multi-media installation of 70+ toy pandas.  The vibe of the film is lighthearted and optimistic.  As the children initiate an election of behalf of the pandas, their experience embodies community building, demonstrates civic engagement and conveys the important message that, by working together, even young children can effect change.  “The film is a life-affirming tribute to kids’ compassion and the birth of their civic engagement.”  (B. d’Angelo, writer)

View the trailer for the PANDALAND film here: https://vimeo.com/726396147 .  The full film is not yet available on the internet as it is still in competition at film festivals.

In the fall of 2022, Davis is embarking on a wide school tour with her film, in an effort to create opportunities for many students to engage in their community and create change through their efforts.  She will be screening her film, holding discussions, a vote and the opportunity to sign a petition which will be presented at City Hall.  She is seeking 1000 student signatures!  See her Programme Plan here: https://vimeo.com/762983592

IMG_7996Excited Senior Participants at the Opening of DREAM SCENES, May 16th 2019