Out & About

March 14, 2013

Film, art mix at International Festival

MONTREAL — The big screen takes an artistic turn tonight as the International Festival of Films on Art’s 31st edition begins.

The festival, known as FIFA, offers a unique repertoire of more than 250 films.

Anne Lagace Dowson, FIFA’s English spokesperson, first started attending the festival as an arts reporter in her 20-year career for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

“This festival is much better known to Francophone Montrealers than it is to Anglo Quebeckers and art lovers in the area,” she said. “And I thought that was really a shame.”

Lagace Dowson was asked to be the English-language spokesperson about two years ago.

“And I said, ‘Absolutely,’ because the little known or very wonderful secret about this festival is that despite the French profile, most, if not all, of the films are in English or subtitled in English,” she said. “So it’s super Anglo-friendly.”

The 11-day festival screens 259 films from 30 countries in nine venues around the city. Lagace Dowson promises there is something for every fan of visual or performing arts.

“Everything around you is defined by some creative person — from the chair you’re sitting in, to the color of your walls, the building you’re in, to the music you listen to,” she said. “And that creative person may very well be profiled at this festival.”

Consider some of this year’s more well-known subjects: George Harrison, Edward Hopper, Salvador Dali, Harper Lee, Salmon Rushdie and Amy Winehouse.

“And all of these films are basically love stories to these subjects because they’re made by people who love the artist and the artist’s work,” Lagace Dowson said.

Some of the films, she added, are years in the making, with filmmakers gaining unparalleled access to their subjects.

“They go right into their studios, houses, performance space,” she said. “It’s right up close and personal.”

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