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Reel Artists Film Festival 2013

Reel Artist Film Festival 2013

Last weekend was spent at the Reel Artist Film Festival (RAFF) watching documentaries and shorts on visual art and thoroughly enjoyed immersing myself into the various films.

This is the tenth year of the Festival and it is always interesting to hear other artists talk about their process and approach to their work.

RAFF is a small gem of a festival that more people should know about --so mark off the last weekend in February in your calendar for next year – a perfect antidote to the cold weather of February. It is organized and run by the Canadian Art Foundation which also publishes Canadian Art magazine. The high caliber of films consistently selected over the years speak for themselves as well as the articulate presenters selected to introduce the films.

It is notoriously difficult to get artists to speak articulately about their own work and equally difficult to create a documentary that holds the audience interest long enough with what often is tedious, technical work that surrounds the creation of art. The latest Gherhard Richter documentary was criticized for focusing too much on the artist actually painting but I found it fascinating. I often start out reading the programme and see a few films that don't hold a particular interest but I usually end up viewing it and finding out something new or unexpected. The festival now runs at the Toronto International Film Festival (otherwise known at the TIFF Bell Lightbox) building in Toronto which makes the entire viewing weekend no hardship with great theatres and good food and essential coffee at the popular Canteen.

When the documentary filmmaker and the subject work well together it creates an eye opening glimpse into the world of the artist.

The first year at RAFF I saw one of the best documentary art films that set the bar high for what an art docmentary can achieve. It opened the RAFF weekend and featured well known Winnipeg artist Wanda Koop entitled "Koop: The Art of of Wanda Koop" and follows her journey on a cargo ship on the St Lawrence River. The cinematography is impressive and allows us to view along with Koop the process of synthesizing the experience into her art.

Here are some memorable films from this year at RAFF that are worth searching for in your localindependent video store or library. They are completely arbitrary and in no particular order.

Time Zero “The End of Polaroid Film”

Polaroid stopped making instant film in 2008 devastating a niche of devoted Polaroid photographers. Refusing to accept the inevitable end of an era, the documentary is part nostalgia and part real world exploring the origins of Polaroid, its rise to dominance and its future possibilities with “The Impossible Project”. John Waters even makes a cameo appearance.

SomeWhere to Disappear

Eric Soth Somewhere to DisappearInternationally acclaimed photographer Alec Soth goes on a personal journey through the United States with his large format camera finding isolated homes and refugees from society, mainly white males who have rejected mainstream society for various reasons. Melancholy, sad and yet strangely absorbing profiles of these men emerge through their stories and photography. Soth is searching for his own sanctuary as he climbs and hikes through mountains and caves with his equipment. It’s as much his journey as theirs.

Mark Lombardi “Death Defying Acts of Art and Conspiracy”

This documentary is appropriately structured as an investigative piece that covers the life and times of Mark Lombardi, an artist who created over 14,000 index cards of information on governments,corporations and business elite throughout the and then made “connections” or linkages to them. As the Raff programme states: “he took information and created complex diagrams and narratives that revealed disturbing facts about various economic and political affairs, conspiracies and crimes. His work entitled BCCI-ICIC & FAB 1972-91 was examined by the FBI at the Whitney Museum in New York following the attach of 9/11, as it relayed information about the US Banking system’s connection to global terror networks.” Lombardi died in 2000 of an “apparent” suicide.

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