In a city replete with film festivals, Film Pop, the little sister of Montreal mega music-festival Pop Montreal, is in a class all its own. The folks at Pop are allergic to the conventional, and this is evident in their film festival, which is nothing like other film festivals—more like a series of film “happenings” around town at the same time as all the other things that are happening at Pop time, only on screens.
As one might imagine, the films shown at Film Pop tend to be music-related—last year, they premiered Look at What the Light Did Now, a splendid documentary about TO rock femme fatale Leslie Feist. This year, they’re continuing their swath of top-shelf rock docs with another filmic tribute to a goddess of modern sound: PJ Harvey, whose new album, Let England Shake, is accompanied by a series of 12 videos shot by war photographer Seamus Murphy.
Vancouver’s punk scene is historically very loud, and also important—seminal bands like D.O.A. and S.N.F.U. have come out of British Columbia, as does Bloodied and Unbowed, a doc by Suzanne Tabata. Tabata and Randy Rampage of the band D.O.A. will be there for a post-screening Q&(D.O.)A. Another music-industry doc not to be missed is Upside Down: The Creation Records Story, about the definitive indie U.K. label. As interesting an A-list attracton is Freaks in Love, which puports to be “25 years in the world of underground rock, as seen through the eyes of freakshow psych-punk band Alice Donut.”
For fans of doomed folk-singers, the Phil Ochs doc will be a big draw. The legendary singer/songwriter from the ‘60s and ‘70s finally has a doc to tell his life story, and how his creative energy and eventual demise were tied into the zeitgeist of a generation. The screening will be attended by Phil’s brother Michael Ochs, curator of the Michael Ochs Archive, the world’s most extensive collection of rock-show stills.
Also, do make sure to check out a screening of American photo/video artist Laurel Nakadate’s The Wolf Knife, an experimental feature film about the bored horniness of teenage girls, among other riveting topics. Nakadate best-known for her controversial 9/11 Girl Scout video, recently had her first solo show at Long Island’s storied MOMA PS1 and has been the focus of profiles in heavy-hitting pubs like The Economist.
Best of all, Film Pop is this year curated by Montreal’s own Kier-la Janisse, co-founder and owner of Blue Sunshine Psychotronic Film Space an amazing wonderland of movies where many of the Film Pop offerings will be shown, as well as slideshows by artists specially commissioned for the festival and an interesting double feature about outsider video artist R. Stevie Moore and a documentary about somebody throwing a beer bottle at Burton Cummings’ head in Winnipeg in the 1980s.
Film Pop, September 21-25, 2011