2010 INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL
OF FILMS ON ART
you have a hunger for knowledge and an open spirit then The
International Festival of Films on Art (FIFA) is for you. The
28th edition (March 18th- 28th) offers an exceptional showcase
of 230 films from 23 countries. Presented in nine venues in
the downtown area, the viewer is invited to undertake a veritable
journey that explores all aspects of art. Ranging from music
to cinema, literature, painting, architecture and design, this
exquisite 11 day banquet is a feast to be had for art lovers
and cinophiles alike. Artists, both known and obscure, receive
equal treatment. You'll be taken behind the scenes to witness
the act of creation in opera, theatre and film classics. History,
both present and past, will be given its interpretative due.
are the films, briefly blurbed, that I have seen thus far. Please
note that some of these include comments by reviewer Nancy Snipper.
VIVRE AVEC L’ART…UN ART DE VIVRE
Canada / Anne-Marie Tougas / 2010 / 52 min / French
A reflection on the relationship(s) between an art collector and the artists of the works he collects.
ANTONINE MAILLET — LES POSSIBLES SONT INFINIS
Canada / Ginette Pellerin / 2009 / 52 min / French
Portrait of award winning Acadian author Antonine Maillet (1971 `La Saguine` and 1979 `Pélagie Return to L`Acadie`)
Canada / Marlene Millar, Philip Szporer / 2009 / 48 min / French, English, s.t. French
Study of the twists and turns of masculine identity through
the eyes of four male dancers (Marc Béland, Marc Daigle, Benoit
Lachambre Ken Roy) all of whom are in their 40s facing fading
youth. Observations expressed through interviews and performances.
OFFRE-MOI TON CORPS
Canada / Bernar Hébert, Renée Claude Riendeau / 2010 / 90 min / French, English, German,
Hebrew, Swedish, Dutch, s.t. French
A fascinating look at a group of photographers who use the human body as a model to convey ideas and emotions.
BORIS VIAN, LA VIE JAZZ
France / Philippe Kohly / 2009 / 60 min / French
Known mainly as a writer and a poet, Boris Vian (1920 – 1959) had a deep passion for Jazz. He played trumpet, composed and performed his own songs. He was also friends with Duke Ellington and a music critic. Commemorating the 50th anniversary of his death this filmic portrait effectively captures the true nature of this mythical figure.
OR, LES MURS
France / Julien Sallé / 2009 / 60 min / French, s.t. English
A chronicling of French composer Thierry Machuel’s (born 1962),
who visits to a maximum security penitentiary in 2008. The testimonies
of five of the inmates serve as the basis for the libretto for
his latest choral composition.
JULIETTE GRÉCO, « JE SUIS COMME JE SUIS »
France / Brigitte Huault-Delannoy / 2009 / 52 min / French
The doyenne of French singers (born 1923) recollects her childhood
and her adolescence during the war, and highlights of her career.
ARIANE MNOUCHKINE, L’AVENTURE DU THÉÂTRE DU SOLEIL
France / Catherine Vilpoux / 2008 / 70 min / French
Profile of Arianne Mnouchkine (born 1939), who founded of
“Le Théâtre du Soleil” (literally "The Theater of the Sun") in
the 1964. We follow her career from her first amateur stage production
in the late 50s to her latest production, "Les Ephémères"
(2008). Along the way we pass through key stages of her career
including the 1977 film “Moliere” and her unwavering political
MAGRITTE LE JOUR ET LA NUIT Belgium / Henri de Gerlache / 2009 /
52 min / French
A reconstruction of Belgian painter René François Ghislain
Magritte (1898 – 1967). Film exposes his enigmatic personality
as reflected through his art, which was inspired by the absurd,
paradox and the outlandish.
TADAO ANDO / KOSHINO HOUSE Finland / Rax Rinnekangas /2009/59 min /Finnish
This film examines The Koshino House built for fashion designer
Hiroku Koshino in two stages between 1979 and 1984. This house
is a masterpiece, and collects all fragments of Tadao
Ando's (born 1941) architectonical vocabulary, mainly the light.
LE MOLLET DE LA DANSEUSE
(FEET ON THE GROUND) France / Marie-Pascale Lescot / 2009 / 52 min / French, s.t. English
Experimental film that meditates on the question: What traces does dancing leaves behind on both the inside and outside?
BULL’S EYE, UN PEINTRE À L’AFFÛT Canada / Bruno Boulianne / 2010 / 77 min / French
Portrait of Ottawa born (1970) painter Marc Seguin as he
travels between city (Montreal or New York) and nature -- where
he works the soil or hunts both for game and images. His body
of work is complex and dense, inextricably linked to the elements
of the land and its wildlife.
CAROLYN CARLSON, LE REGARD DU GESTE France / Élisabeth Kapnist /
2009 / 52 min / French, English, s.t. French
A journey into the universe of contemporary dance choreographer and performer Carolyn Carlson (American born of Finnish parents in 1943). Living in France since the early 70s, she is the artistic director of both the Atelier de Paris and the National Choreographic Centre of Roubaix Nord-Pas de Calais. Through interviews and watching her work, director traces her passion for both dance and life.
LES VIES POSSIBLES DE CHRISTIAN BOLTANSKI France / Heinz Peter Schwerfel /2009 / 52 min / French
Coming across as an experimental film, we embark upon a
journey into the dark yet humorous world of French visual artist
Christian Boltansky (born 1944). Includes some of his works
combined with rare archival footage. We encounter a sentimental
artist as he confronts both the past and the future.
THE LAST DANCE FOR ME: COMPANY OF ELDERS United Kingdom / Fran
Landsman / 2009 / 49 min / English
Another film showing that it is never too late for one to
pick up a new passion or to expand one’s horizons. In this case
we follow a dance company called ‘A Company of Elders’ as they
prepare to perform for a show at London’s prestigious Sadler
Wells. The moral derived from this 25 member group of elderly
ranging in age from 61 to 85 Is very inspiring. Many have serious
health problems yet are unstoppable as they rehearse and learn
their dance steps from choreographer Chris Tudor. The piece
is inspired by the music of Hoagy Carmichael. Many myths about
old age come crashing down.
LE TEMPS D'UNE BIÈRE Canada/Maurice André Aubin / 2008/52 min
An intimate look at Acadian author-composer-actor Cayouche
whose real name is Reginald Charles Gagnon (born 1949). We accompany
this gentleman hippy and modern troubadour as he travels to
France to learn more about his ancestors. An engaging and humorous
road movie, especially when Cayouche comments on the nature
of the French.
Nancy Snipper] The film is an entertaining ride
with Cayouche, New Brunswick's most colourful Acadian. Toting
his Gibson guitar on his Harley Davidson, the bearded bard takes
his country Acadian music into bars. Here, he is loved. But
the ride takes on a riotous route when he goes to Paris to perform
in out-of-the-way areas in town halls all the way down to Normandy
-- a region where many Acadian ancestors lived, including those
of Cayouche’s. As an emissary of Acadian culture, he is accepted
politely, but his French, unkempt appearance and unusual singing
style is an understated shock to those he meets. In France,
he leaves a trail of linguistic confusion which makes his right
of passage into these communities all the more hilarious. Director,
Maurice André Aubin has put together a thoroughly enjoyable
documentary deserving of French subtitles because the Acadian
language is a song onto its own.
ROGER PELERIN, LÀ OÙ L'ON S'ARRÊTE EN PASSANT Canada / Patrick Pellegrino
/ 2009 / 79 min / French
A profile of engraver Roger Pelerin who has chosen to live
on an island situated in the heart of Abitibi on an immense
lake. This film portrays a solid slice of Quebec life, but could
have used tighter editing. Images of his engravings were stunning.
[by Nancy Snipper] Roger Pelerin a master woodcutter, is certainly one of Quebec's most gifted artists. His
robust scenes of life gone by in Quebec’s outback are exceptional,
and director Patrick Pellegrino honours this in his convoluted
film that pays far too much attention to Pelerin’s gravelly-voiced
alcoholic partner, a failed ceramics artist. She is an irritant
in the film, and seems more of a burden than a blessing to Pelerin.
on an island in the vast waters of Abitibi Lake, the two have
made a life for themselves. Sadly, the film wanders in and out
of focus and its 79 minutes are interminably long. The film needs
to be vigorously edited.
ELENI BOUKOURI ALTAMURA, THE FIRST GREEK WOMAN ARTIST Greece /Kleoni
Flessa 2009 / 56 min / Greek, Italian, s.t. French
Born on the island of Spetses in 1821, Eleni Boukouri Altamura
broke every convention of her era. Consequent to her tenacity
and the support of her father, she became Greece’s first woman
artist. This film provides an educational lesson on 19th century
Greek art and politics. The narrative rises to a poetic level.
[by Nancy Snipper] Eleni Boukouri Altamura was born in the
wrong time, and yet without her, no female artist today would
be allowed into an art school, nor be given a morsel of recognition
for her natural gift to paint. Born in Greece (Spetses), Boukouri’s
talent was nurtured by her famous sea-faring father. Her masterful
drawings and paintings conveyed a neoclassical nuance which
eventually brought her fame and access into college teaching
art in Athens. However, her entry into success only came about
through her decision to dress up as a man when she began studying
with the Nazarenes in Rome in 1847. When she fell in love with
her teacher, Saverio Altamura, the ruse was up. Three children
later, her life took on tragic proportions when her first two
children succumbed to tuberculosis. She burned almost all of
her paintings and spent the rest of her life as a recluse on
Spetses. Through beautiful Greek music, the poetry of Pindar,
interviews enhanced with photos from the 19th century, along
with scenes shot in black and white and softly lit,
director Kleoni Flessa gives this extraordinary
woman her rightful place in the annals of art history.
TO BE AND NOT TO BE Netherlands / Frank Scheffer / 2009 / 54 min /Farsi
Iranian composer and conductor, Nader Mashayeni returns
to Tehran after living in Vienna for 28 years. His intent was
to form a symphony orchestra. Film offered a philosophically
insightful glimpse into both the cultural landscape of Iran
and how Iranian youth perceive Western music. In stark contrast
to the freedom sensed when Western music was played, I felt
repressed when the soundtrack featured Iranian music.
[by Nancy Snipper] Believing that the impossible is possible,
Iranian-born conductor Nader Mashayekhi left Austria with a
mission in mind: to bring Mahler into the repertoire of a non-Western
youth orchestra. “TO BE AND NOT TO BE,” directed by Frank Scheffter,
beautifully unfolds as the young musicians reveal their passion
for classical music in a country that condemns it; only traditional
Persian music is ‘legal.’ Taking all kinds of risks and following
his heart, Mashayekhi not only conducts Mahler in his native
country, but manages to marry both Persian and Western musical
styles in one of his orchestral works performed in Tehran. Here,
he creates another miracle when he conducts his Austrian choir
in a public performance of Bach’s "Passion According to St. John".
Mashayekhi’s philosophy of mankind and music is inspiring.
THERE BE LIGHT United Kingdom / Tim Kirby / 2008 / 49 min /
A scientifically focused film whereby we encounter a group of artists who use light as both inspiration and primary material. The sheer beauty of the works presented is astounding.
ART:21 — ART IN THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY: TRANSFORMATION United States
/ Susan Sollins / 2009 / 57 min / English
Art:21 is a series that airs on the PBS Network that is
about contemporary visual art in the U.S. and the artists who
make it. Currently entering it sixth season, this episode portrays
the works of Yinka Shonebare MBE -- who parodies the notion
of class by drawing headless figures in political or social
contexts; Cindy Sherman -- who modifies photos of herself to
create different characters; and Paul McCarthy -- who creates
absurdist videos and statues.
CHARISMA X — IANNIS XENAKIS Greece / Efi Xirou / 2009 / 62 min / French, Greek, s.t.. French
A look at composer (dubbed “Architect of Sound") Iannis
Xenakis (1922–2001). His works reconcile art and science and
use philosophy, architecture, mathematics and politics to build
works that are designed in a manner akin to an architect designing
STEVE REICH, PHASE TO FACE France / Éric Darmon, Franck Mallet / 2009
/ 52 min / English s.t. French
Steve Reich (born 1936) is a trail-blazing exponent of minimalist music. This film, through interviews and excerpts from his works, shows how Reich rejected the complex structures of mid 20th century music (example John Cage) in favour of simple melodies that play in a loop -- often against the same melody but slightly out of sequence. Understanding the background of his works gives one a greater appreciation.
LA MUSIQUE, AVENIR DU VENEZUELA: EL SISTEMA Germany / Paul Smaczny, Maria
Stodtmeier / 2008 / 65 min / Spanish, s.t. French
Founded in 1975 by José Antonio Abreu (born 1939 in Valera)
to rescue children from the violent slums of Caracas, Venezuela,
El Sistema has grown to cover 30 youth orchestras across Venezuela
and reaches 250 thousand children. Through intensive education
these children are taught music in all of its aspects. Deeply
emotional as we see the enormous power of music and how these
children express their passion. Some, such as Gustavo Dudamel
-- currently musical director of The Los Angeles Philharmonic
-- have turned professional.
[by Nancy Snipper] It’s difficult to describe the effect
this über-inspiring documentary has on the viewer. Because of
the near divine spirit of one Venezuelan, José Antonio Abreu,
his country’s children -- living in abject poverty and danger
-- have come to know the joy of playing an instrument in an
orchestra. As founder of El Sistema (founded in 1975), Abreu
has reached out to over 250,000 wide-eyed kids, and the numbers
keep swelling. Led by the hand -- the other toting their instrument
-- sometimes a cardboard one, some of them get to play in the
Paper Orchestra formed to give them a start. No shanty town,
no slum, no drug infested alley way is left out of the scene,
as El Sistema’s volunteers and meagrely-paid professional musicians
seek out little ones to bring meaning and hope into lives by
making music in a socially exuberant setting. Many become professional
performers, reaching out to youngsters as they play for them
in the famous Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra. The children’s
vitality explodes on the screen -- their parents and teachers
sharing in the musical miracle that embodies the vibrant chaos
that strides around every corner of this dynamic, dauntingly
poor country. Bravo El Sistema!
THE REAL WORLD OF PETER GABRIEL Germany / Dieter Zeppenfeld, Georg Maas
/ 2009 / 52 min / English, German, Cambodian, s.t. English
A look at the life, career and reflections of Peter Gabriel (born 1950), focusing mainly on his human rights activities through WOMAD and Realworld Records and Studios, where he brings together musicians from all cultures. Also deals with his efforts to bring attention to human rights abuses worldwide (see http://www.witness.org/).
FLIES AND ANGELS Germany / Kerstin Stutterheim, Niels Bolbrinker / 2009 / 89 min / English, Russian, s.t. English
Russian conceptual artist Ilya Kabakov (born 1933) left
the Ukraine in 1987 and settled in New York in 1992. Flies and
angels feature prominently in his theatrical installations,
symbolizing the perverse oppression under the Soviet system.
Interspersed with depictions of his works are glimpse into daily
life in Russia.
EXPANSIVE GROUNDS Germany / Gerburg Rohde-Dahl / 2008 / 66 min / English, German, s.t.. English
This film is director’s personal reflection on her ‘happy
childhood’ during WWII, triggered by the building of The Berlin
Holocaust Memorial (2003–2007), designed by architect Peter
Eisenman and located in downtown Berlin. Including public reaction
to the Memorial plus an interview with her older sister, she
ponders what her emotional reaction should be to her father’s
high position in the Nazi party: he was a Block Warden at Stutthof
SYMPHONIE MONTRÉAL Germany, Canada / Bettina Ehrhardt / 2010 / 97 m/ English in, s.t. French
To celebrate the MSO’s 75th season, conductor Kent Nagano
prepares a special program that includes a concert for throat
singers and orchestra: Messiaen’s opera "St Francis of
Assisi" and a commissioned work, "Concerto for Radio
Animator and Orchestra." We follow the orchestra and Kent
Nagano as they prepare for each concert, with Maestro Nagano,
orchestra musicians and special guests offering personal reflections
on the orchestra and their approach to performance and music
ETTORE SPALLETTI Italy / Pappi Corsicato / 2008 / 22 min / Italian, s.t. English
Featuring the off-screen voice of abstract artist Ettore
Spalletti (born 1940), we are invited to share his childhood
memories and to hear his reflections on why he chooses certain
THE VIENNA BOYS’ CHOIR — SONGS ALONG THE SILK ROAD Austria / Curt Faudon / 2008 / 51 min / English, German, s.t. English
This film takes us ‘backstage’ into the world of the prestigious and nomadic Vienna Boys Choir. Made up of young boys aged 10 to 14, the choir was founded in 1498 and songs include a vast repertoire from traditional folk songs to classical. The narrative was a bit on the dry side.
PAUL SCOFIELD United Kingdom/ David Thompson / 2008 / 60 min / English
Paul Scofield (1922–2008) is regarded by many as one of
the finest actors since WWII. His interpretation of King Lear
was voted by his peers as the best in the 20th century. Containing
excerpts from his most remarkable performances, both in theatre
and film, and interviews with his peers, a fuller picture of
the man behind the actor is to be had.
BLANC, NOIR OU RIEN Canada / Mario Côté, Jeanne Renaud / 2010 / 32 min / French
A performance by choreographer Jeanne Renaud and interpreted by dancers Louise Bédard and Sylvain Émard; inspired by a previous performance by the same three at the NAC in Ottawa in 1991.
THE MAN WITHOUT A HOME: STUDY FOR A PORTRAIT OF HUGO PRATT Italy / Nino Bizzarri / 2008 / 60 min / Italian, s.t. English
This film is a portrait study of illustrator Hugo Pratt
(1927– 995). He is the creator of the comic series Corto Maltese
-- a complex sailor and adventurer.
GAUGUIN À TAHITI ET AUX MARQUISES Suisse, France / Richard Dindo / 2010 / 66 min / French
Painter Paul Gauguin left the West in 1891 to reside in
Tahiti in the hope of finding paradise and re-invigorating his
art. He dies from syphilis in 1903 on the island of Marquesas.
Through the use of voice over narration -- based on his memoirs
of the period -- combined with images of Tahiti and Marquesas,
along with reproductions of his paintings of the period, this
film recounts the final 12 years of Gauguin’s life.
ROMY SCHNEIDER — UNE FEMME EN TROIS NOTES France, Austria, Germany / Frederick Baker / 2008 / 90 min / French, German, s.t. French
Austrian actress Romy Schneider's beauty and unique aura won
her international renown before her premature death in 1992 due
arrest at the age of 44. To characterize this aura, the
director applies the metaphor of perfume and its familiar head,
heart and base notes. The head represents her strong- willed perfectionism,
the heart her passionate loves and the base her youth and origins.
L’ART DE CHOPIN France / Gérald Caillât / 2009 / 60 min / French
This film is a tribute to the artistic genius of Chopin
(1810-1849). Highlighting his innovative techniques in his compositions
for piano and chronicling his most creative periods, the film
features excerpts from virtuoso performances of his works by
renowned pianists. Another important feature is pianist Garrick
Olsson explaining and demonstrating some of Chopin’s techniques
-- for example the use of the “weak fingers” for the melody
and the thumb and index on the same hand as an accompaniment
plus the other hand as a second accompaniment.
VIEWS ON VERMEER Netherlands / Hans Pool / 2009 / 69 min
/ English, Dutch, s.t. English
Though Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer (1632–1675) left us
with only 35 canvasses, a small oeuvre by any standard, he made
an incalculable impact on the world of art. This film attempts
to analyze his techniques through the observations of contemporary
photographers, painters, curators, an art historian, an art dealer
and an architect.
[by Nancy Snipper] “Views on Vermeer” reveals how
four contemporary photographers along with three artists and two
curators attempt to analyze this Dutch 17th-century painter’s
technique with regard to exquisite lighting, reflections of tapestries
on objects, political content and his relationship to the women
he painted. Most importantly, unlike his contemporaries, Vermeer
painted the common folk – no rich patrons pose in the 35 paintings
that have survived. The documentary tries to unravel the mystery
of how Vermeer achieved his inimitable quiet scenes where light
and reflective moments fuse into beauty. I say that no matter
what photo the gifted photographer (Erwin Olaf) took to recreate
a certain scene, it is Vermeer's genius as a painter that makes
each scene an eternal masterpiece. Had Dutch director Hans Pool
pondered this point, his film would have been more inspiring.
STUDIO MALICK : UN REGARD SUR L'AUTRE AFRIQUE Mali / Youssouf Cissé 2008
/ 31 min / french
Malick Sidibé (born 1935-36) is one of Africa's leading photographers.
This short film is a look, through his eyes, at a chapter in Mali's
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