The Art of Viewing Art Films

Isa Tousignant

Art is in everything, from city planning to hiking to animation—and from March 8 to 18, it’s in the movies! The International Festival of Films on Art (or FIFA) presents 10 days of culture onscreen in cinemas around Montréal’s downtown core. From biopics to art docs to immersive video installations to special events including a meeting with conductor Kent Nagano, there’s so much here to be enjoyed!

Here are 7 films in English (or with English subtitles) at the 36th edition of FIFA you won’t want to miss.

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Megalodemocrat: The Public Art of Rafael Lozano-Hemmer

Directed by Benjamin Duffield

This film opens FIFA 36 in a world premiere! In the presence of the Mexican-Canadian artist himself, Megaldemocrat reveals how Rafael Lozano-Hemmer developed the acoustic environments, light shows and interactive projections that have won him international acclaim. Filmed over 10 years in 25 cities around the globe, this film taps into Lozano-Hemmer’s contagious enthusiasm for transforming the urban landscape into a work of art.

Becoming Cary Grant

Directed by Mark Kidel

Beyond the classic biography, Becoming Cary Grant takes us into surprising areas of silver screen icon Grant’s intimate life, inspired by his unpublished autobiography. The film abounds with testimonies and unpublished archived materials that reveal how hidden behind his legendary elegance and charm, there was a young child perturbed by his mother’s internment at a psychiatric hospital, an event which led him to be one of the firsts to use LSD therapy.

Brasília, Life After Design

Directed by Bart Simpson

Presented for the first time in Quebec, Brasília dives deep into the heart of Brazil’s capital, originally conceived by visionary architect Oscar Niemeyer and urbanist Lucio Costa in 1956 as the ideal way to micromanage the daily activities of the modern Brazilian citizen. This film contrasts that utopian ideal and the existing reality with the help of mesmerizing soundtrack and images. In Portuguese with English subtitles.

Where is Rocky II?

Directed by Pierre Bismuth

In this ludicrous adventure flick, a private detective and two Hollywood screenwriters (including director Bismuth, Oscar winner for the screenplay of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind) go on a search for a lost rock in the Mojave Desert. The rock in question is a work of art of mythic proportions: it is said to have been built from resin in 1979 by artist Ed Ruscha, who named his giant creation Rocky II and hid it among the real rocks of the desert. But it remains unmentioned in any of Ruscha’s catalogues. Where is Rocky II? is an awesome artistic quest.

Never-Ending Man: Hayao Miyazaki

Directed by Kaku Arawakawa
In 2013, Oscar winning animation director Hayao Miyazaki announced his retirement at 72. But after meeting with a group of young animators specializing in computer graphics, he decided to explore new technological ground instead. Will this latest film change the future of Japanese animation? Never-Ending Man follows Miyazaki’s inaugural use of 3D animation, revealing the creatively complex man behind the work. In Japanese with English subtitles.

L’Homme de L’Isle

Directed by Bruno Boulianne

Presented in a world premiere, L’Homme de L’Isle tells the story of Québécois hunting guide Gilles Gagné, who led painter Jean-Paul Riopelle on goose hunts over 30 years on Isle-aux-Oyes and Isle-aux-Grues in the middle of the St. Lawrence River. In this doc

he accompanies contemporary artist Marc Séguin on the very tracks that inspired Riopelle to paint his most famous piece, Tribute to Rosa Luxemburg. In French with English subtitles.

Final Portrait

Directed by Stanley Tucci

This fiction film tells the touching and offbeat tale of friendship between Swiss painter and sculptor Alberto Giacometti and American critic James Lord, as seen through the latter’s eyes. Set in 1960s Paris, Final Portrait is a unique foray into the beauty, depth and occasional chaos of the artistic process. It’s presented for the first time in Montréal and was written and directed by Oscar-nominated actor Stanley Tucci.


Isa Tousignant

Isa Tousignant, blogger

Isa Tousignant is an art and lifestyle writer based out of Montréal’s ecclectic Park Ex neighbourhood. She is Contributing Editor for Canadian Art magazine and freelances full-time for a wide variety of magazines and brands. She’s also a jewellery designer and passionate about animal costumes and their role in contemporary art.