FIFA at 30: Art under a microscope
March 15, 2012
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by Anne Laguë
The 30th Festival international du film sur l'art (FIFA) starts today.
The thirtieth? Already?
Okay, I have to confess that I'm not the most current Montrealer you'll ever meet, at least as far as the art scene is concerned. And until my telephone interview with the president of FIFA, I was completely ignorant about its concept. A film about art, I thought, that's got to be like walking into a hall of mirrors, right? Like watching someone on TV watch TV. Right?
René Rozon is the founder and president of the festival, which has livened up the city for thirty years now. He's raised the event by hand, so to speak, nursing it through its uncertain early years of financial difficulties -- always, according to him, the biggest problem of cultural exhibitors -- and participation challenges. Now 35,000 people show up to watch films shown in nine cinemas in and around the Quartier des Spectacles.
Mr. Rozon explains that one of the goals of films about art is to increase the knowledge and appreciation of art through a medium that the public already understands. "Film is more accessible to people who don't necessarily go to museums or art galleries. They're in direct contact with the artist, but they don't have to take action. There's a kind of psychological distancing from the screen. That makes the art and the artist much more accessible."
And the spectator learns a lot about both of them. "If I don't get, for example, contemporary art, I can see a film where the artist really explains his or her concept" says Mr. Rozon. "Then I realize that the works have a justification, that there's thought behind all of it. If I'm in front of a work that I don't know how to interpret, I can commune with it more easily."
A schedule of 230 films, from all over the world, will plunge spectators into the world of painting, architecture, circus, dance, comics, and more. Many of the selections will introduce you to important figures in a discipline or demystify particular works. For example, Chercher Noise, by Daniel Robillard and Stéphan Doe, shows the singer and former Cowboy Fringant domlebo during the recording of ten songs by the author, singer and songwriter Dany Placard.
In Cinema d'horreur: Apocalypse, virus et zombies by Luc Lagier, we take a stunning film class alongside some of the best specialists in the genre.
Among the free events presented by FIFA, there is even Une idée folle -- Un hommage au FIFA, a kind of anniversary film about the festival itself by the French director Alain Fleischer, who wanted to pay tribute to an event that has become the most significant of its kind in the world. Rumor has it that founder and president René Rozon will first see the film with the rest of us on Wednesday March 21 at 6 PM, at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.
A president who watches, during his own festival of films about art, a tribute film about the festival that has spread Montreal's reputation throughout the world for 30 years -- now we're really in the hall of mirrors. Right?
Nope. It's just a richly deserved reward for enhancing the work of thousands of art and film work.