Filmmakers show a deep love for capturing artists — their personalities and how they hone their craft. In particular, music and film have a special relationship that goes back to a time before MTV and even before American Bandstand. The earliest films brought in live musicians to play piano and create drama to correspond with images on the screen. This longstanding romance between film, art, and music gets a big hug from Pop Montreal with its collection of eight films that look at artists and musicians through a variety cinematic genres.
This year’s film pop is packed with Quebec (and sometimes Canadian) premieres. Opening and closing films are both Quebec premieres. The opener is Listen Up Philip, an analysis of the narcissism of the artist. Jason Schwartzman (of Rushmore) plays a misanthropic and bored writer with a knack for alienating others. Closing drama Whiplash has a young jazz drummer pursuing personal excellence that transforms into obsessive perfection under the thumb of his relentless teacher. (Listen Up Philip is at Concordia’s Alumni Auditorium, Sept 17, 8:30 p.m., $10; The Possibilities are Endless is at J A de Sève Theatre, Sept 21, 6 p.m., $10)
Of all the films that are likely to pack the auditorium, NAS: Time is Illmatic makes its Canadian premiere on September 20. Visual artist One9 made the film to celebrate the 20th century of Nas’ album Illmatic. The film is a documentary that examines the making of the album, and the social conditions related to its creation — namely the plight of young black men in New York in the ’90s. The album is considered pivotal in shaping trends in hip hop, and is recognized for its exceptional substantive lyrics about gang life and urban decay. (JA de Sève theatre, Sept 20, 8 p.m., $10)
Of local interest and sure to be highly politically charged is the double “screening” of the album Le trésor de la Langue and the road movie it inspired, Le trésor archange. The 1989 album by guitarist René Lussier consists of spoken-word recordings and music that focus on the importance of Québec language and culture. The FLQ Manifesto and the “Vive le Québec libre” speech are included in the recordings. Think PQ and Québec Nationalism and that more or less sums it up. Love him or hate him, René Lussier will be present for a Q & A. (Pop Headquarters, Sept 18, 6:30 p.m. Tickets $15 for both)
Other premieres are The Possibilities are Endless (Sept 21), Buzzard (Sept 21), and Finding FELA (Sept 19).
See Film Pop schedule for show times and locations. Film POP runs alongside POP Montreal from Sept 17 to 21.