FIFA – 32nd International Festival of Films on Art

Monumenta 2012

The 32nd edition of FIFA – International Festival of Films on Art (March 20-30, 2014) has a great line-up of international films on music, art, fashion, photography, architecture and film. Founded in 1981 by René Rozon, the festival has expanded to feature 270 films from 34 countries, and includes an official Awards Ceremony that will be presented at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts on Saturday, March 29, 2014.

FIFA Screening of "Google and the World Brain" (photo by K.Sark)

One of the special events this year is Berlin – Le Passage du temps (Lieux et monuments – Places and Monuments), a video and art installation by Pierre Hébert that will be on display at Cinémathèque Québécoise, Foyer Luce-Guilbeault, from March 13 to June 29, 2014.

Berlin Places and Monuments  exhibit (photo by K.Sark)


Places and monuments, anonymous and ghostly presences from past and present, from Weimar to reunification, intertwine and reverberate in this installation project about Berlin. Four screens placed horizontally present four videos in a loop, a profusion of images shot at various Berlin locations. A dizzying sensory experience of history and the passage of time.

Berlin Places and Monuments  exhibit (photo by K.Sark)

4 Extraits / Berlin – Le passage du temps:


Berlin Places and Monuments  exhibit (photo by K.Sark)   Berlin Places and Monuments  exhibit (photo by K.Sark)


All segments derive from footage shot in 2012 and 2013 at various sites throughout Berlin. They are snapshots of daily life, but at the same time refer to historical episodes from the last hundred years: from the Weimar Republic, World War II, the airlift of 1948-49, the Berlin Wall and monumental structures of the DDR to today’s massive reconstruction of the Stadtschloss.

Berlin Places and Monuments  exhibit (photo by K.Sark)


The themes ricochet from one video to the other: traces of history, demolition/reconstruction, rubble, immigrants, anonymous crowds, bicycles, etc. Two segments focus on important Berlin intellectuals: Bertolt Brecht and Walter Benjamin. The overall installation, in fact, is heavily influenced by various Benjaminian themes, in particular that of the flâneur (urban wanderer).

Berlin Places and Monuments  exhibit (photo by K.Sark)

Films to watch out for: 

Detroit/Michigan – Motor City Music (dir. Claus Bredenbrock, Pagonis Pagonakis, 2013, 55 min) tells the story of the different genres of music to come out of the capital of the auto industry, adding to the rich corpus of recent films about Detroit. From Stevie Wonder and Iggy Pop to Marvin Gaye, Diana Ross, and Eminem the list of musicians and bands who lived and played in Detroit represents the cream of American pop, soul and rock music. Featuring old and new tracks from Detroit’s rich musical history, this film paints a fascinating portrait of a city full of contrasts.As one of the film’s protagonists, Mayer Hawthorne put it, “Struggle forces you to be creative and creativity is the best fuel for art.” The film’s soundtrack will follow you out of the theatre, and onto the street, and make you want to go to Detroit.

Google and the World Brain   Detorit - Motor City Music   Elegance of Design

Google and the World Brain (dir. Ben Lewis, 2013, 89 min) tells the story of the Google Books project, which began in 2002, in an effort to create a giant global library (a dream that can be traced back to the Library of Alexandria), and eventually a higher form of intelligence (even more advanced than the IBM Watson computer that won at Jeopardy), something that H.G. Wells predicted would occur in his 1937 essay “World Brain.” Because over half the scanned books were still in copyright, and authors across the world launched a campaign to stop Google, culminating in the rejection of a settlement that would grant Google the sole right to “orphaned” books in 2011.

The film makes several allusions and direct references to technology as a new-age religion, and polarizes the supporters and opposer of Google’s project in two very distinct camps, with little middle ground. The champions of technology, such as Kevin Kelly of Wired Magazine see the battle over digital books as not over, while many authors whose books have been scanned without permission are presented as “victims.” As one of the protagonists noted, “A book is not a long tweet, but an achievement, and a declaration of a life’s work.” Google itself is portrayed as rather clueless about the consequences of its overly ambitious digital projects and rather unprofessional. Overall, the film reflects most people’s fears of the dictatorship of technology (also predicted by H.G.Wells’ science fiction), of artificial intelligence (AI), of radical infringements of privacy, and lack of corporate social responsibility.

Beat Generation


Beat Generation – Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg & William Burroughs (dir. Xavier Villetard, 2013, 55 min) tells the story of the deep and long-lasting friendship shared by Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg and William Burroughs, which gave rise to the literary movement of the “Beat Generation.” It all started in New York in the early 1950s when Kerouac decided to write an enormous novel about their common experience. It then moved through San Francisco, Mexico City, Tangiers and Paris where, in quest of the absolute and in reaction to a puritanical America, all three experimented with sex and drugs. It ended some fifteen years later with the successive publication of Ginsberg’s Howl (1956), Kerouac’s On the Road (1957) and Burrough’s Naked Lunch (1959), each of which is a manifesto in itself.

Cracked Actor   Kraftwerk

Kraftwerk – Pop Art (dir. Hannes Rossacher, Simon Witter, 2013, 60 min) tells the story of a pioneer group in electronic music, founded in 1970, that invented the music of the future by projecting itself into the digital era. Long before the emergence of mobile phones, the group predicted the advent of an era where computers would connect us to the world, where our perception would be guided by bright pixels and where our sound environment would consist of background noise generated by machines. Visionary, experimental and radical, but at the same commercial and perfectly adapted to the club scene, their electronic sound has influenced many major artists today.

Godmother of Rock'n'Roll

 The Godmother of Rock’n Roll: Sister Rosetta Tharpe (dir. Mick Csáky, 2011, 52 min) tells the story of the woman who played a key role in the creation of rock’n roll and inspired musicians such as Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash, Little Richard and Chuck Berry, but remains virtually unknown today. Sister Rosetta Tharpe (1915-1973) the first African-American gospel star, who took the gospel music out of the church into Harlem’s most popular night clubs like the Cotton Club. With her electric guitar, she brought the intensity and “feeling” of gospel to popular music.

The Man Who Shot Beautiful Women   Une Photographie de la maison

The Man Who Shot Beautiful Women: Erwin Blumenfeld (dir. Nick Watson, 2013, 59 min) tells the story of the photographer, art director, contributor to Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Cosmopolitan and Life, Erwin Blumenfeld (1897-1969), who revolutionized the fashion image. He survived two world wars and became one of the world’s most highly paid fashion photographers. His influence on the development of photography as an art form was decisive. However, after his mysterious death in Rome in 1969, he is little known today. This first portrait devoted to Blumenfeld had exclusive access to his archives and reflects the work of a man fascinated by beautiful women, and also by the endless possibilities of photography.

Les Jambes de Sainte-Pierre

Les Jambes de Saint-Pierre (dir. Dominique Roland, 2013, 40 min) tells the sotry of the painter-photographer Pierre Molinier (1900-1976), who was found dead on March 3, 1976, half-naked in his apartment in Bordeaux, having shot himself in the head. This film investigates the life of this enigmatic and demonic figure, whose art was based on fetichism, voyeurism, indecency and provocation. Playing on his own sexual ambiguity, Molinier used the self-portrait to enact his fantasies and pursue his quest for an androgynous ideal. His work, life and death end up merging, becoming one and the same.

Une photographie de la maison (dir. Alain Fleischer, 2013, 72 min) is a documentary essay on photography composed of still photographs, and an overview of the Maison européenne de la photographie and its collection, considered among the finest in Europe. It also evokes some of the major figures represented there: William Klein, Ralph Gibson, Helmut Newton, René Burri, Raymond Depardon, Jim Dine, Sebastiao Salgado, Bernard Lamarche-Vadel, Georges Didi-Huberman, Jean Baudrillard… Through this process, the film traces the history of photography from its invention to this day.

Bon cinéma!

This entry was posted in Art, Berlin, Cities, Festival, Film, Montréal. Bookmark the permalink.

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