Man With a Movie Camera
After taking a few years off, the Cinémathèque québécoise is bringing back its Fête du cinéma movie marathon. Founded in 2008, the marathon lay dormant following some successful iterations, until this weekend. “It’s an initiative that began around 2008, back when I worked at 24 Images magazine,” explains Marcel Jean, general director of the Cinémathèque. “The idea was really to program a full weekend’s worth of films and to celebrate by watching all kinds of different films with a lively atmosphere — but also cheaply.”
This year’s edition begins on Friday with a François Girard double-header and ends late Saturday night (or early Sunday morning, depending on the person) with Allan Arkush’s rowdy Rock ’n’ Roll High School, starring the Ramones. “The concept is very simple,” explains Jean. “There are 10 screenings; if you come to the first screening, you can buy a $10 ticket, see a movie and this ticket is then available to trade in for a ticket to the next showing. That way, you can ostensibly see all 10 screenings for $10. Some people see a single movie, others see a couple, but every time we’ve done it, there have been people who have sat through the entire marathon.”
Each screening consists of a short and a feature, each themed roughly to the time of day. “We want to celebrate all kinds of formats,” explains Jean. “It’s not limited to features. If you’re coming to it late at night, you’ll see things that are a little trashier, a little more violent. The spirit of the marathon is really to celebrate all kinds of films.”
On the schedule this year is the aforementioned Girard double-header, which includes a brand-new cleaned-up transfer of his first short, Suspect No. 1; Dziga Vertov’s landmark Man With a Movie Camera, which features live musical accompaniment; Robert Altman’s strange, underseen Western Buffalo Bill and the Indians or Sitting Bull’s History Lesson (the pristine 35mm print of which hasn’t been screened in Montreal since 2003); Takashi Miike’s Audition; the classic, genre-defining screwball comedy Bringing Up Baby; a selection of W.C. Fields shorts (which Jean points out are extremely rare French-subtitled prints); Joseph Losey’s lavish adaptation of Don Giovanni; the Quebec premiere of Nanni Moretti’s Mia madre, which won the Ecumenical Jury Prize at Cannes in 2015; Jacques Demy’s Les demoiselles de Rochefort, with live commentary from filmmaker Martin Talbot, and the aforementioned Rock’n’Roll High School. ■
The Fête du cinéma is happening at the Cinémathèque québécoise (355 de Maisonneuve E.). Tickets, which cost $10, are available at the box office on site.