Home Arts Experimental films to showcase materiality

Experimental films to showcase materiality

by Olivier Du Ruisseau April 2, 2019
Experimental films to showcase materiality

FIFA Experimental displayed a wide variety of artistic short and feature films

Concordia University has been contributing to one of the most creative aspects of FIFA (Festival International des Films sur l’Art) for years now. Its FIFA Expérimental portion, dedicated to experimental films of all kinds, was held on campus at the J.A. de Sève Cinema, between March 23 and 24.

Nicole Gingras, the programming director of FIFA Expérimental, said the 37th edition of the event “rendered the materiality of images and the ephemeral nature of shared experiences.”

Those elements could be appreciated in the entire two-day selection, but most notably in the program From eye to ear, on Saturday night. The program’s six films either showed the aesthetic effects of the physical manipulation of the filmstrip itself, or deconstructed the viewer’s perception of the materiality of the images before us.

Louise Bourque and Guillaume Vallée, both Canadian experimental film directors who had contributed to each other’s projects, were present at the theatre to discuss their works with the public.

Bourque, a veteran of the experimental film scene in Canada, presented her most recent project, Bye Bye Now. The artist used old black and white photos of her father who had just passed away and brought life to them with sound and colour, giving texture to the film and animating her family history. It emphasized how images can be associated with vivid memories, as if sometimes the photos’ subjects were interacting with the viewer directly.

Also related to family, was Vallée’s mesmerizing Le dernier jour du papillon lune, narrated by his young son, William. The voice of the infant raising questions about death and the meaning of life accompanied the colourful images of a butterfly’s life. Vallée, who studied animation and studio arts at Concordia, said he became inspired by a visit to the Butterflies Go Free exhibition at the Montreal Botanical Garden with his son. That’s where he saw a luna moth, or papillon lune, and wanted to capture it for a movie. “I learned that the luna moth only lives as a butterfly for one day,“ he said. “It inspired me.” The moth then became a metaphor to illustrate his son’s growing insecurities about life and death. “I used 72 photograms and manipulated them, changed their form, their colour,” Vallée added. The butterfly’s constantly changing colour and textures made some of the most beautiful images of the program.

The last guest to be featured that night was Kim Kielhofner, a video, drawing and collage artist from Montreal. She presented the longest film of her career, Whose Language You Don’t Understand, which lasted 62 minutes. It was the only feature film of the program. Kielhofner took the public on an eclectic journey as she narrated her thoughts about language, images, and representation, referencing the book of the same title by Austrian writer Marianne Fritz. She divided her film into 12 sections, based on the 12 sections of the book. Extremely intellectual, the sometimes repetitive and monotone narration, serving the purpose of recontextualizing the book’s ideas, lost some of the audience. Nonetheless, it brilliantly demonstrated the artist’s collage talents and called for an interesting discussion on the limits of language.

Gingras, who teaches in the studio arts department at Concordia, has greatly contributed to the evolution of FIFA Expérimental since she started working at the festival in 2003. Encompassing many techniques, styles and subjects, the selection aims to showcase “works by Québécois, Canadian and international artists, presented in cinemas, but also in exhibition contexts,” she said.

“For every edition of the festival, I also want to highlight the work of one artist, by creating a monographic program specifically for them,” Gingras said. “This year, I wanted to focus on Belgian artist Anouk De Clercq, because her oeuvre touches on architecture, animation, weightlessness, memory, and luminous phenomena, all of that in black and white.”

Many of the experimental films De Clercq had been making since the 1990’s were shown at the J.A. de Sève Cinema prior to From Eye to Ear.

“If I look at the quality of the interactions between the artists and the audience at the screenings, the reception has been very good,” said Gingras, regarding her impressions of the weekend.

“[During the festival], the J.A de Sève Cinema of Concordia offers a diversity of experiences, physical and poetic, and the projectionists who work there are conscious of that,” Gingras added. “The FIFA Expérimental screenings only being held in a few consecutive days in the same room, it creates a sort of microcosm, ideal for meetings and exchanges between the artists and the public.”

As the biggest experimental film event in Montreal, FIFA Expérimental is a unique feature, allowing the public to connect with exclusive and beautiful works. To learn more about FIFA, visit their website: artfifa.com.

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