FIFA: Art comes alive on the big screen

Robyn Fadden

Robyn Fadden is a Montréal-based writer and editor who searches out city secrets, new bands, life-changing art and things to do with her perpetually active kid. Robyn has covered major events for HOUR, MUTEK, ARTINFO, CKUT 90.3FM and more.

This article was updated on March 6, 2024.

Experience the wide world of art on Montréal’s big screens this March at the International Festival of Films on Art (FIFA). From artists in their studios to dancers on the stage, from architecture to orchestras and pretty much every art form in between, the biggest art film festival in the world illustrates the power of creativity from March 14 to 24 in cinemas around town.

The 42nd edition of the International Festival of Films on Art (FIFA) offers a rare chance to see Canadian, North American and world premieres of new features, shorts and documentaries — all dedicated to a diversity of artistic practices. Taking place in Montréal cinemas and cultural venues, as well as online, this year’s festival screens over 200 productions from 40+ countries.

Technologies of the now

One of the goals of the International Festival of Films on Art is to make art accessible to as many people as possible, bringing together the world’s art institutions and major players with experimental and outsider artists and art forms, from painting and photography to music, architecture and dance. There’s always something new to discover and thoughtful themes to ponder!

One of the prominent themes this year is the impact of tech. The festival opens with Obvious, hackers de l’art, about the early career of a famous French art collective that shot to world fame in 2018, when the first AI-generated artwork was sold by Christie’s for $432,500. Along the AI and tech overlords theme, What the Punk is a film that follows the (now defunct) CryptoPunks phenomenon, while The Great Endeavor (which showed at the Venice Biennale of Architecture) brings to the screen humanity’s greatest project: the capture and underground storage of human-generated gigatons of carbon dioxide. 

Don’t miss Vincent Charlebois’s two installations, at Place Ville Marie and near Saint-Laurent metro station, which offer a reflection on the relationship between technology and our experience of nature, whether through the deforestation of Western Canada or the urban landscape of Montréal. They’re accessible free of charge.

Nature and beyond

One of the exciting part of the 2024 edition is a program of artist films co-curated by curators Pascale Pronnier and Louise Déry around how we look at forests, whether bucolic, picturesque, sublime, romantic, sacred, patrimonial or under threatned. 

See the filmic profile of Strijdom van der Merwe, who uses wood from forests in southern Africa to create breathtaking works of land art. In La Ricerca, discover the Italian artist Luigi Lineri, who, for six decades, has amassed a collection of stones found in the mountains of Lessinia. !AITSA weaves connections between the construction of a colossal radio telescope and the vast desert stretches of Karoo, South Africa, inhabited for centuries by indigenous peoples. 

The land inspires, nourishes and provides materials for creativity. Green Over Gray: Emilio Ambasz explores the revolution in green architecture through the landmark projects of Emilio Ambasz, a pioneer in the debate on the impact of climate change.

Female perspectives

More than half of the 2024 edition’s films are directed or co-directed by women. The Regards de femmes program curated by the Arab World Institute features directors from Arab countries, while the program paying tribute to Manon Labrecque, who died in late summer 2023, offers an overview of the 30 years of research and invention of this major video and media artist. 

The celebrations continue for the 100th birthday celebrations of Marcelle Ferron, Automatiste artist and signatory of Le Refus global, during the symposium État de la recherche et héritage. In Ourse bleue, we discover the First Nations author, painter, poet, sculptor and storyteller Virginia Pésémapéo Bordeleau, she personifies reconciliation. 

The 9 Lives of Barbara Dane will take you into the tumultuous life of the musician and social justice leader who is currently 96 years old.

Carte blanche creativity

Along with the competition films, FIFA presents a Carte Blanche section of programming by major arts organizations and artists. There are also Special Programs not to be missed and the FIFA Connexions professional days that connect the arts and culture community at the festival.

This year’s films can be seen at theatres that often double as gallery and performance spaces, including Monument-NationalThéâtre Outremont, the Canadian Centre for ArchitectureCinéma du Musée, Concordia University and the McCord Stewart Museum. Adding to the accessibility, most films can be watched on ARTS.FILM, FIFA’s online screening platform, throughout the festival.

Robyn Fadden

Robyn Fadden is a Montréal-based writer and editor who searches out city secrets, new bands, life-changing art and things to do with her perpetually active kid. Robyn has covered major events for HOUR, MUTEK, ARTINFO, CKUT 90.3FM and more.

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