Fall is the best time of year for music and film fans in Montreal. Festivals and shows a-plenty, for most it becomes a draconian decision between what to see and what to miss. A select few become so totally fixated on this decision making process that they fail to see anything at all.
For those living under a rock, Montreal’s premiere film festival Pop Montreal starts up this week. Though it’s diverse set of musical shows big and small are often the highlight, it is truly a multi-disciplinary fest and has a bit of everything, including a mini-film festival. Film Pop’s programming is helmed by Kier-La Janisse. For those who don’t recognize the name, she is the founder of Montreal’s own Montreal’s Psychotronic Film Centre, Blue Sunshine. A fan of all things cinema, there are few people more qualified to organize a kick-ass line-up as she is. This year’s films are heavy on musical diversity, Canadian premieres and impossible to find film classics.
To help those who don’t know what to see, I have singled out five essential films from this year’s Film Pop line-up. While my own bias leans towards the obscure and unseen, there is something for everyone here. I also recommend checking out the Film Pop festival website for a full list of films playing, as well as art installations and exhibitions being shown as part of the program.
Video retrospective compiled by Kier-La Janisse | Canada 2010 | 55mins. | Regional Premiere
This totally unique compilation showcases the unique and underground genius of musician and filmmaker R. Stevie Moore. Since the late 1970s, Moore has released over 400 cassettes and CD-Rs through his mail order club and has created enough DIY music videos available upwards of 30 DVDs available through his website. This collection of his work focuses on the middle point of his career (1974-1988) and includes inter-titles for additional context and commentary on his work. An animated sequence was created by Leslie Supnet, specifically for this program (check out her work on VIMEO). If you’re not convinced, youtube some of Moore’s work, I guarantee that at the very least you will be treated with something you’ve never seen before.
The Burton Cycle: Part I: Fahrenheit 7-11 and Part III: Negativipeg
Matthew Rankin and Walter Forsberg | Canada 2010/2011 | 30min.
Even if you don’t recognize the name, you’ve certainly heard many of the folk classics Phil Ochs has composed. Responsible for such protest classics as “There but for Fortune”, “Power and Glory” and “The War is Over”, his influence is still felt today as many of these remain some of the most potent works of anti-establishment from his era. This biographical film charts his life and unwavering dedication to his beliefs as well as his tragic downfall and eventual suicide.
In Julien Temple’s last film in his trilogy of British music form the 1970s, he explores the early part of the decade and the rise of the seminal band, Dr. Feelgood. An important precursor to the punk movement, the film charts their quick rise to fame and even speedier demise through the eyes of members of contemporaries like The Clash, Blondie and The Sex Pistols along with band-members Jools Holland and Alison Moyet. Temple is one of the very best music documentarians around and he is sure not to disappoint in his depiction of 1970s England and one of the best bands not enough people remember.
For those among you who are looking for a little more fiction than fact, the uber-cool Japanese biker movie, Crazy Thunder Road may be for you. Though not strictly about music, like so many other counter-cultural films, music comes to define the alternative way of life for these social outcasts and rebels. Those unfamiliar with Ishii’s work will be shocked and awed by his total embodyement of the punk mentality in film form. This is an opportunity to see a rare 35 mm of an excitingly youthful film, don’t miss it!
Don’t miss your chance to see this rare made-for-tv film about the case brought against Judas Priest for apparently inciting the suicide attempt of teenager James Vance. A ground-breaking trial, it still stands as one of the most high-profile trials against the arts in American history. David Van Taylor uses the trial as a framework to explore a troubled adolescent population at the end of the century. This might be your only chance to see this film as it is currently only available on 16mm.
Pop Montreal runs from September 21-25. Tickets, schedules, and other information can be found on the festival’s website.