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Putting art on film

by Rosslyn Hyams

Article published on the 2010-01-18 Latest update 2010-01-20 13:09 TU

Isadora Duncan, from Elisabeth Kapnist's film(Photo: JIFA/DR)

Isadora Duncan, from Elisabeth Kapnist's film
(Photo: JIFA/DR)

The art of filming art is the focus of the 24 films in the Journées Internationales du Film sur L'Art, a five-day mini festival from 20 to 24 January 2010 in Paris, at the Louvre Auditorium. The films tell the stories of art forms or artists, and reveal their own attempts to achieve life on another plane.

Culture in France: Art film festival

18/01/2010 by Rosslyn Hyams

Still from 'The Last Wright' by Lucille Carra(Photo: JIFA/DR)

Still from 'The Last Wright' by Lucille Carra
(Photo: JIFA/DR)

While making films about art is an art in itself, it's also a way to peek further into the subject artists' own creative process. It can also be a way to bring a work of art to life in a different light, from a different angle.

Elisabeth Kapnist, a Franco-Russian documentary film maker, maintains that “films about art are special, original; they are written in a special way and need special exposure.”

Kapnist’s film "Isadora Duncan, je n'ai fait que danser ma vie" was selected for this rare art-film bonanza, which includes films on sculpture, dance, literature, painting, theatre, music and architecture.

In the case of Isadora Duncan, the dancer who lived from 1877 to 1927, only 30 seconds of her actually dancing were ever captured on film (something we learn in the film itself!).

Kapnist, basing her story on the dancer's autobiography, had to plunge into her creative resources and find other means - such as computer graphics - to show who Duncan was and how important she was to dance.

Swiss architect Max Bill in Erich Schmid's film 'Max Bill – Un regard absolu'(Photo: JIFA/DR)

Swiss architect Max Bill in Erich Schmid's film 'Max Bill – Un regard absolu'
(Photo: JIFA/DR)

Among the films being screened, you can travel across centuries, disciplines and the world.

There is a film about the Italian Renaissance painter Michelangelo; Canadian cult filmmaker Guy Madden pays tribute to late 19th and early 20th century French painter Odilon Redon; or a film about Chinese pianist Lang Lang brings you to today's art world.

Bounce in your seat to the beat of feet with Nora (choreographer Nora Chipaumuire born in 1965 in Zimbabwe), or you can learn about the astounding Armenian portrait photographer, Yousuf Karsh (1908-2002) in a film directed by Haitian-born director Joseph Hillel.

Some of the films are the winners, in all categories, of the Montreal International Festival of Film on Art.

Pascale Rénaud, who organised the series at the Louvre, admits that Montreal is where she does the largest part of her work in selecting films.

She agrees that in France, where art is so hallowed a part of culture and image, it makes sense that such a festival takes place at France's highest temple of art, the Louvre!

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