While FIFA and World Film Festival are among the larger festivals in Montreal, the city is home to some pretty varied small film festivals. The Montreal Underground Film Festival, the Montreal Black Film Festival, the Stop Motion film Festival, and even one dedicated to ethnography, the International Ethnographic Film Festival of Quebec (FIFEQ).
FIFEQ began in 2004 after the participants in an inter-university colloquium on visual anthropology decided to organize an annual event featuring ethnographic films. Ethnography, a branch of anthropology (the fun branch), focuses on studying culture, groups of people, nations, and societies. Ethnographic film is, not surprisingly, cinema that aims to capture its subject matter of cultures and societies faithfully.
The FIFEQ is in its 11th year and offers free screenings at Université de Montréal, Concordia, and McGill. A satellite branch is at Université Laval in Quebec City. Many of the films are subtitled in English. The screenings are organized into thematic blocks such as Jeux de Masques, Paroles de Prête, Seasons of Life, Alternative Ways of Living, Displacement, Resistance. There is also a showing of student films. Following the films, there is an opportunity to discuss the films at a chosen location each evening.
Some interesting films include Gods and Kings (Robin Blotnick and Rachel Lears), a film about Guatemalan religious dances featuring pre-hispanic gods, horror movie monsters, and dictators from the Cold War; Much Ado About Knotting (Geetika Narang Abbasi) which looks at Indian matchmaking culture; Dr. David Shorter’s film Lutu Chuktivwa about the Yaqui (Yoeme) Indians (think of Carlos Castaneda’s 1968 ethnographic hit The Teachigns of Don Juan: The Yaqui Way of Knowledge) in an all-night lutu pahko (cord cutting) ceremony; Ulrike Mothe’s Women’s Police Station about the 31 women who work in the Bangalore police station; and Freeload (Daniel T. Skaggs) film about American train-jumping culture.
One particular event takes place on Friday night in collaboaration with OpenMind and Synesthesia Creations, entitled the Immersion and Synethesia as a Way of Knowing: A Sensory Ethnography of the transformational festival OpenMind. This long-titled event is an interactive, art installation piece that allows participants to experience the OpenMind transformational festival through the five senses. Electro-swing DJs Elios and OLïSTiC will provide music.
Screenings of the FIFEQ take place at Université de Montréal on March 16th and March 19th; at McGill University on March 17th and March 20th; and at Concordia on March 18th and March 22nd. Student films screen at Café L’Artère (7000 Parc) on March 18th at 7:45 p.m. The Sensory Ethnography event takes place at LaCenne (7755 St. Laurent) on March 21st at 9 p.m.