Montreal, September 29, 2007
By John Griffin
Another fall, another Film Pop .The little indie festival that could turns four next week, and seems to have become a fixture on the back-to-school movie circuit. After initially riding on the voluminous frock coattails of its Pop Montreal musical big brother, Film Pop is now its own living, hyper-ventilating entity, Wednesday through Sunday.
Music is still at the core of things and hometown heroes earn pride of place in the line-up. But the 2007 edition put together by programming teammates Ezra Soiferman, Carlo Proto and Patricia Boushel throws its net wide to include features, shorts and happenings from Australia, Japan, Norway, Mexico, the United States and ROC (rest o' Canada.)
May we have the table of contents, please? Half Japanese: The Band That Would Be King is a classic rock doc about a duo that's been kicking it since the 1970s, shot by Jeff Feuerzeig, who made the creepy The Devil and Daniel Johnson. It screens Thursday at Film Pop HQ in the Portuguese Association, 4170 St. Urbain St., and is followed by a performance live and in colour by Half-Japanese guys David and Jad Fair. It should be noted here Jad also has an art exhibition in the same building.
This is the kind of synergy at which Pop Montreal excels. Also that night, only later, mudboy haul out their DIY instruments and urban field recordings to suitable lo-fi projections. Even later than that, there's Dishwasher.
Of many other items to note, check out opening night. Ezra Soiferman will. For want of a better description, the "gala" called One-Take Super-8 is a 25-strong compendium of analog shorts never before seen in the public eye, though there must be a few sets of parents sick to death of them.
These basement tapes preface the opening night party, thrown in tandem by Film Pop and the Montreal Film Group, a self-help co-op co-founded by Soiferman and now up to 1300 members from all walks of the community. The party begins at 10:30 p.m. and you are welcome.
"I made time to be involved in Film Pop," says chronic over-achieving N.D.G. resident Soiferman. When he's not doing the Montreal Film Group, making his own movies, stumping for hemp bio-fuel, pumping his own blog (ezsez.com) or being the director of CinemaSpace at the Segal Centre for Performing Arts at the Saidye, he co-produces Film Pop.
Soiferman signed on after last year's screening of his doc Posthumous Pickle Party went down, but only after he'd had to adlib stand-up when the projector was being fixed. Organizers liked his ability to think on his feet in the face of potential disaster, and figured he was just the ticket for Film Pop.
"The idea this year is to show unexpected music films and documentaries," he says. "Pop Montreal is a sprawling enterprise. We're intimate."
"We ended up going with a lot of Montreal filmmakers," though Soiferman swears the Montreal Film Group had nothing to do with that decision.
In fairness, there's the American Dr. Bronner's Magic Soapbox, Sara Lamm's fab doc about the durable counterculture hero and his miraculous "All-One" soap empire. Ask your grandparents. They remember him, too. He's the guy who writes all over his health-store-centric cleaning products. Son Ralph is in for the event next Sunday. Thanks for the 18-in-1 Hemp Peppermint Pure-Castile Soap sample, Ralph.
Back by popular demand is Captain Beefheart guitar god Gary Lucas, whose mixed media performance last year blew many impressionable minds. This time out, he's playing live to classic fantastic cinema from France and Russia, then moving on to Monsters from the Id, where his fret magic will be brought to bear on horror and sci-fi clips.
There's more, much more. The RIDM (Rencontres internationales du documentaire de MontrŽal) links arms with Film Pop and the NFB to present a three-hour master class with legendary American filmmaker Albert Maysles. It all goes down from 2:30 p.m. at the Tanna Schulich Hall in the Schulich School of Music, McGill University, 555 Sherbrooke St. W., and is being chaired by old friend, film crit and noted academic Matt Hays, whose new book The View From Here: Conversations with Gay and Lesbian Filmmakers is terrific, and should be read. Tickets are $30 general admission and $15 for students.
Later that day, Maysles will be participating in a Q & A session following the projection of his 1976 classic, Grey Gardens, at 7 p.m. in the H-110 Amphitheatre at Concordia University, 1455 de Maisonneuve Blvd. W. This has been a public service announcement.
For the rest, shorts and great craft at the Puces Fair, socially aware docs like Super Amigos and Girls Rock, and Tableland, Craig Noble's Sunday tribute to sustainable food production, followed by real food provided by local vegetarian vegan dudes Crudessense. This is a festival premiere and the director will be there. You should be, too. Chow down.
Film Pop Montreal runs Wednesday to Oct. 7 at the Portuguese Association, 4170 St. Urbain St., the Puce Fair, 4171 Esplanade Ave., and where noted. A Film Pop pass is $20. A Pop Montreal pass is $70, and includes Film Pop events, making this the deal of the year. Visit www.popmontreal.com/film.