Home     Content     Articles      La Scena Musicale     Search   

La Scena Musicale - Vol. 9, No. 7

Highlights from the 22nd International Festival of Films on Art in Montreal

by Anna Sampson / April 26, 2004

Between March 11 and 21, art and film lovers feasted at the 22nd International Festival of Films on Art in Montreal. I made it my business to see as many films on classical music as I could. Here are a few of my favourite moments from FIFA:

Marie-Nicole Lemieux's Laugh: Canadian contralto Marie-Nicole Lemieux was the subject of a joyful, entertaining documentary by Montreal director Donald Winkler. The film, subtitled Une voix humaine, lived up to its billing by painting a very human picture of Lemieux at home in Mistassini, in rehearsals and backstage at concerts. It was a joy to hear her beautiful performances and be a fly on the wall at her family dinners. Also, the editor of La Scena Musicale makes a cameo appearance...

Bobby McFerrin and the Verbier Festival Orchestra: Another decidedly happy film was about musicians Bobby McFerrin and Chick Corea. In Bobby McFerrin and Chick Corea: We Play, the two were filmed at the Verbier Festival doing just that. In a play on words, director Bettina Ehrhardt shows how the musicians blur the line between performance and pleasurable experimentation. One of the many hilarious moments of the film was a scene of the rather serious, earnest youths of the Verbier Festival Orchestra being led by McFerrin in a vocal version of the William Tell Overture.

Babes on Bikes: Howard Goodall's Great Dates: 1874, directed by Davis Jeffcock, was a pleasant change from the staid historical recreations that some of the other documentaries about composers favoured. Instead, British composer Howard Goodall leads us through a very smart and funny look at Richard Wagner's life and works. At one point the mythical Valkyries are embodied by a posse of very scary looking biker chicks.

Silence: The only film on music to win a prize at the festival was Claudio Abbado--Entendre le silence, directed by Paul Smaczny. The film is the fruit of a 14-year collaboration between Abbado and the director. The former conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic is depicted through a series of interviews, performances and commentary that, although they never delve into the personal life of the subject, create an inspiring portrait of the musician. Strangely--for a film about music--the moments of silence and introspection were the most moving. In the question period following the screening, Smaczny said that he was negotiating with various distributors to release the film on DVD. Keep an eye out for this movie in the coming year because it is definitely worth seeing.

Although I did get to 21 films in one week, by no means did I manage to see all the films on music. All I can hope is that the CBC goes on a shopping spree and buys up as many as possible for next year's season!

(c) La Scena Musicale