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Reel Forecast: FIFA is more than just a 'footie' association

Posted by Andrés / March 19, 2010


Tonight is the start of a film festival very particular to Montréal. It grew from an Arts Council grant in the 80s, gained sponsorship from the Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal and is now a ten-day event with hundreds of films. Teamembers of FIFA (Festival International of Films on Art) go around the world in search of film and video artists looking to focus their attentions on arts, be they classical or contemporary. The result are countless documentaries and experimental films that chronicle important historical art movements and pieces, or attempt to interpret a wave in its infancy. It runs from March 19th to 28th.

Their program outlines various genres of art films. It can be difficult to navigate through them all, as many of these films tend to be made especially for the festival and are thus unknowns in terms of quality. Regardless, I would suggest checking out the genres that interest you; or perhaps an artist of whom you've heard, and head to the screening. The majority of films are no longer than an hour. Below are some of the my picks for each genre with a small blurb from the FIFA website.

SINAN, A DIVINE ARCHITECT (dir. Remmelt Lukkien, Netherlands, 2008) Mimar Sinan (1489-1588) is a cultural hero in Turkey and the foremost architect in Islamic history. His impressive structures in the Ottoman style, with their splendid domes and minarets, have defined the famous skyline of Istanbul for hundreds of years. Challenged by Christian architects, Sinan set out to surpass the immense dome of the Hagia Sophia Basilica in Istanbul with his Selim Mosque at Edirne, which is regarded by many as Sinan's masterpiece and the apogee of classical dome architecture.

Contemporary Art
LET THERE BE LIGHT (dir. Tim Kirby, UK, 2008) Extraordinary encounters with artists for whom light is both the material and inspiration for their art [one of which is] Alan Yentob [who] has his world turned upside down by a visit to Roden Crater, an extinct volcano in the middle of the Arizona desert that artist James Turrell has transformed over the course of thirty years into a temple dedicated to light and our perception of it.

LA CHAMBRE BLANCHE (dir. Ginette Laurin, Canada, 2009)This film adaptation of one of Ginette Laurin's pivotal works explores such notions as theatricality, emotion and imprisonment. Nine individuals are confined within a white house resembling a hospital or asylum. This closed site, which lies at the heart of the film, contains all the madness, violence, chaos, euphoria of its tenants, who are prisoners of their inner worlds in a situation of extreme promiscuity.

GERMAN DESIGN (dir. Maren Niemayer, Germany, 2009) This three-part series looks at the history of German design: first, the nation's strong point, products known for their quality, durability and simplicity, from the Volkswagen Beetle to the Braun stereo system and Bulthaup kitchen; next, fashion design centred in Berlin, whose young and creative designers have a huge following in Japan in particular; lastly, the most recent discipline, communication design, considered one of the art forms of the future.

LE CINÉMA SELON DALI (dir. Marie-Dominique Montel & Christopher Jones, France, 2009) Throughout his life, Salvador Dalí (1904-1989) was interested in optical transformations and illusions. This film describes his approach to the subject, his formal research on animated images, his delight in provocation and indifference to the commercial ends of cinema. This refusal to compromise is underscored in interviews with friends and collaborators, experts and collectors.

Art History
GERMANY'S COLD WAR CULTURES 1945-1989 (dir. Michael Blackwood, USA, 2009) During the Cold War (1949-1989) in both Germanys, the creation of art, its reception and theorization were closely linked to the respective political systems: Western liberal democracy and Eastern communist dictatorship. In reaction to the legacy of Nazism, both countries revived pre-World War II German artistic traditions. Curators Stephanie Barron and Sabine Eckmann walk us through this critical re-examination of post-war German art.

Media Arts
SEVEN INTELLECTUALS IN A BAMBOO FOREST: PARTS I-V (dir. Yang Fudong, China) The Seven Sages, also known as the Seven Intellectuals, were a group of third-century Chinese men who turned their back on government service to lead reclusive lives, engaged in Taoist-inspired discussions, music, poetry and heavy drinking. The group took on a legendary status as writers from later eras embellished their story. Like the traditional Seven Intellectuals, Yang's film features seven people; his "intellectuals," though, are young and include both men and women.

COOL (dir. Anthony Wall, UK, 2009) In 1949-50, Miles Davis and a group of like-minded musicians recorded six double-sided 78s, later assembled as The Birth of Cool. They were a landmark in jazz history. A word entered the inner sanctum of modern jazz, entered the language. It was coined by a group of black musicians in the 1940s from a language uniquely their own. The music was laid-back, intellectual, apparently effortless, and so was their style. For the first time, young whites aspired to be that way, for the first time their role model was black.

VIEW ON VERMEER - 12 SHORT STORIES (dir. Hans Pool, Netherlands, 2009) Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer (1632-1675) left us a small oeuvre of only thirty-five paintings. But their impact worldwide is incalculable. Four contemporary photographers, three artists, two curators, an architect, an art dealer, and an art historian express their admiration for his work.

STUDIO MALICK: UN REGARD SUR L'AUTRE AFRIQUE (dir. Youssouf Cissé, Mali, 2008) A look at a chapter in the social history of Mali through the eyes of one of the leading figures in African photography, Malick Sidibé (b. 1936). He first made a name for himself with his journalistic photographs of the Malian youth, in love with music and freedom at the time of the country's independence. In 1958, Sidibé opened the Malick portrait studio in Bamako, in the lively neighbourhood of Bagadadji. His clients were young and popular and his neighbours came in droves to pose before his camera.

For a full list of screenings, check out the official website.

All images courtesy FIFA 2010.



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