RenÃ© Rozon has been sending his film students at Marianopolis College to attend and write a paper about the International Festival of Films on Art for nearly a decade.
The festival, he says, is one of the few that provide such a wide variety of choice in film: from dance to photography and architecture to comics, there is hardly a professional art left uncovered.
Granted, Rozon might be a tad biased – he is the festival’s director – but none the less, he said that students enjoy the festival beyond the written assignment.
Rozon said most students have never been to a festival before he assigns them to go to FIFA and they always leave with a new perspective on film. “They find a different crowd, not like in commercial cinema, it’s a discovery,” Rozon said by phone from the FIFA offices. “Its really a very stimulating new type of cinema, and I get excellent papers on the films they see.”
Screening in nine different venues, FIFA is showing 230 films from many different countries, with the goal of “elucidat[ing] the mystery of creation, so that we may better understand and appreciate art,” Rozon wrote on the FIFA website.
This year also commemorates many artistic achievements through film. There are films celebrating the 20th anniversary of the I.M. Pei’s pyramid at the Louvre (see review), the 50th anniversary of the Guggenheim Museum as well as the 100th anniversary of futurist cinema (the avant-garde Italian movement).
There is also a tribute section of the festival, this year dedicated to AndrÃ© S. Labarthe (known as ASL), showcasing 10 films highlighting Labarthe as a director, producer and even film critic. The films include the never-before-seen documentary following Martin Scorsese in the editing room of Taxi Driver (Taxi Driver Broken Down By Martin Scorsese) and a doc where ASL talks method with John Ford and Alfred Hitchcock (Hitchcock et Ford, Le Loup et L’agneau).
While there is no specific theme of this year’s 28th edition of the festival, the images used for publicity have certainly garnered a large amount of attention. The picture in question is of a man strewn across a couch in a baroque-like pose, with his body painted black and white like a zebra. The still comes from Quarantaine, a Montreal film about four male dancers in their 40s, exploring the ideas of aging and masculinity in their profession. Rozon said he chose the picture because the image was striking- and with posters all around the city, he hopes that it catches the attention of passersby.
In the photo, one of the dancers lays naked on a white couch, where he is then painted white and then adorned with black paint – bringing to mind Annie Liebowitz’s portrait of artist Keith Haring. The painting of the man is sped up, without a single makeup artist entering the frame. Rozon said that when he screened Quarantaine’s trailer at FIFA’s press conference, it was the first time the press gallery erupted in applause.
Rozon said the festival has something for everyone, and suggests that FIFA newcomers try his method of selecting films. “First, I would say, select a film with your preference in mind,” he said, mentioning that the films are all indexed by content. “Then,” he said, “choose any film with a blindfold on, you will discover the most interesting things that way- I recommend it.”
The International Festival of Films on Art runs from March 18 to 28, screening films in venues across Montreal. An information booth is located in Concordia’s EV building, near the metro entrance. Visit artfifa.com for locations and show times.