Dance Movies: Cinédanse Montréal

The debut edition of a dance film festival brings big names and notable locals together to celebrate the art form onscreen.

Mike Figgis’s THE CO(te)LETTE FILM

Enfin! There’s a new dance film festival with international and local content that makes its début in the city this week. Daughters imitate and mock their fathers dancing, an elderly group of Dutch line dancers flash-mob, and a mother and son duet in the deep end. Over the next four days, 13 screenings of more than 35 shorts, features, documentaries and experimental dance films are part of the first Cinédanse Montréal.

Fest director Sylvain Bleau was immensely inspired by Amsterdam’s Cinédans dance film festival and decided it was about time to start something comparable in Montreal. “I had a deep ambition and intuition to program two years ago,” explains Bleau, who got a taste of the international dance film circuit as he was promoting a short by local choreographer Stéphanie Decourteille. Having worked on the administrative side for Édouard Lock, Théâtre La Chapelle and the Grands Ballets Canadiens, Bleau was already immersed in the world of dance and theatre.

“We have to mix up the stage and the screen. All of these performing artists have a lot of energy,” says Bleau, speaking to Cult MTL before the festival’s press conference. “The new generations of artists, they have to distinguish themselves, so they mix the genres.” He drops the names of Frédérick Gravel, Virginie Brunel and Dave St-Pierre, who are the subjects of Guillaume Paquin’s doc Aux limites de la scène, focusing on the new generation of Montreal dance makers.

British Director Mike Figgis (Leaving Las Vegas) has the honour of presenting his film as the fest opener tonight, Thursday Sept. 20, at the Imperial Theatre (1425 Bleury), 7 p.m. Figgis’ award-winning, raw, squirm-inducing work set in a bar-like atmosphere, THE CO(te)LETTE FILM, is an adaptation of a work by Dutch-Flemish choreographer Ann Van Den Broe, who comments on femininity, feminism and desire.

The festival’s packed lineup includes one of my fave dance docs, Dancing Dreams, which goes behind the scenes of a production of Pina Bausch’s Kontakthof that was remounted with a group of teens. Look out for works focusing on a variety of choreographers like Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui, Tanja Liedtke, and Balanchine. Also, if you’ve never had the chance to see Édouard Lock’s groundbreaking dance film Amelia on the big screen, it’s worth the trip to the Imperial — even if it’s raining.

Apart from screenings, if you want to know more about the art form, stop in on the Saturday morning conference “Why Onscreen Dance? What to Do or Not to Do” led by Kelly Hargraves, co-founder of the Dance Camera West screen fest in Los Angeles. Also, local choreographer Victor Quijada of RUBBERBANDance will speak out about his work in the genre.

Finally, to kick back and relax after the opening and closing films, head over to the Phillips Lounge (1184 Place Phillipps) to hang with the artists, directors and public. ■


Cinédanse Montréal runs Sept. 20-23. See Cinédanse Montréal for showtimes, venues, videos and more.

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