We Are Not Princesses

A scene from  the film We Are Not Princesses.

The International Festival of Films on Art (FIFA) has unveiled an ambitious program for its 38th edition, which will be held in Montreal from March 17 to 29 and, for a third consecutive year, in Quebec City from March 20 to 29.

More than 240 films, documentaries, interactive works, media works, and music videos from more than forty countries will captivate, inspire and open the minds of audiences. In addition to the films presented in the official selection and competition, a series of events, cartes blanches and collaborative works will be available to the public. Among the new features this year, FIFA will have screenings for families and open a section dedicated to music videos. It will also introduce the new wave of Chinese creators, devote a special program to Iranian artists and present the world’s most beautiful artistic performances on the big screen.

FIFA features as many films directed by women as by men in the competition and official selection.

We Are Not Princesses by Bridgette Auger and Itab Azzam will open the 38th edition of the festival. The directors tell the story of Syrian women in a Beirut refugee camp as they put on a production of Sophocles’ play Antigone. Much like this film, the films in the official selection and competition express the wish of directors, producers and artists to share their visions of the world, their passion and their experiences. Their moving stories reach out to meet the other with empathy and selflessness.

Exceptional Women

This year, many films focus on the women who left their mark on their era. In contemporary art: Marina Abramović, Sigalit Landau, Shirin Neshat, Katharina Sieverding, Niki de St-Phalle; in design: Charlotte Pierrand; in photography: Dora Maar, Martha Copper; in film: Isabelle Huppert, Simon Signoret; in painting: Audrey Flack, Mary Pratt; in music: Barbara Hannigan; in dance: Peggy Baker. All are recognized for their extraordinary careers and exceptional work.


This edition features a large number of feature-length and short films about dance in the form of both documentaries and filmed performances. It includes exceptional recordings such as Quatre chorégraphes d'aujourd'hui à l'Opéra de Paris by Cédric Klapisch and Miguel Octave, as well as Body and soul by Canadian Crystal Pire. Many of the short films feature dancing including Aida by Edward Lock, Ghost featuring Tentacle Tribe, and L’étreinte des Valkyries by Alan Lake. The documentary American Tap shows the evolution of tap dancing and its place in the history of the African American and Irish communities in the United States. Fram Forward is a dance journey in northern Norway. Other films such as The Euphoria of Being, Corps émouvants, L’âge d’or and Gioa testify to the therapeutic, inclusive and inspiring nature of dance as a means of expression.

Quebec Films

Among the films from Quebec are two feature films about poetry, a rare treat at the festival. Raôul Duguay, par delà La bittt à Tibi, directed by Yves Langlois, pays tribute to this tireless multidisciplinary artist, visionary and humanist, while Plus haut que les flammes is a sensitive and touching film adaptation of a collection of poetry by Louis Dupré, narrated by Violette Chauveau and directed by Monique Leblanc. Many of the Quebec films were directed by women. Le Dernier Nataq by Lisette Marcotte takes us to Rouyn to meet a group of artists, including the well-known Richard Desjardins, who are tasked with painting a mural based on his work. Derouin métis des Amériques, directed by Julie Corbeil, is an intimate portrait of this influential artist who continues to split his work between Mexico and Quebec. Mouffe, muse et mentore directed by Carmel Dumas, tells us the story of this artist who has been part of the Quebec art scene for more than 50 years. Finally, in the film Traces of Hope by Christine Doyon, we follow the creation of an animated film by Syrian children in a Lebanese refugee camp.

Engaged Art

Certain artists and directors pursue their artistic, political and social engagement through their works. Many of the films bear witness to this reality and to the justness of the struggle for free expression. Beijing Spring looks back on the dissident group of artists Stars and the repression they suffered at the time of Mao’s death. Lemebel is a portrait of Pablo Lemebel, writer, visual artist and pioneer of the Queer movement in Latin America. His work shook Chilean society at the height of Pinochet’s dictatorship and he continued his fight until his death in 2015. The eponymous film, Ernest Pignon, Ernest à taille humaine, is a portrait of this artist who is considered the father of street art and who travels the globe hanging his engaged and very human images. Kirill Serebrennikov A Theatre Director Under Arrest shows the life of this internationally renowned theatre director in a Moscow jail as he follows the production of one of his pieces in Strasbourg. These stories testify to the power of art.


Creativity is at the heart of many of the feature documentaries. In Why Are We Creative: The Centipede's Dilemma, the question is asked to dozens of artists, business people and scientists over many years; the documentary expands our vision of what it represents. Echoes of the Invisible shows us exceptional journeys that bring together art, science and spirituality. Art on Fire follows the story of Burning Man 2018 right up to the burning of the effigy at the end of the festival.

Portraits of Artists

Always popular with festival audiences, this edition includes many portraits of artists: in gastronomy: Auguste Escoffier; in music: Eliades Ochoa; in photography: Peter Lindbergh and Elliott Erwitt; in fashion: Yohji Yamamoto and Yves Saint-Laurent; in architecture: Richard Neutra, Ernest Cormier and Piet Oudolf; in painting and sculpture: the Indigenous Canadian artist Robert Davidson; in contemporary art: Marcel Duchamps and Ruben Östlund, and two Renaissance masters: Leonardo da Vinci and Tintoretto.


Finally, many films take the form of reports. The Man Who Played with Fire looks back on the little-known work of famous writer Stieg Larsson, author of Millennium and a tireless activist who studied and fought the far right. L’affaire Caravage is a captivating report on the art market when a 400-year-old painting by Caravaggio emerges in April 2016. Léonard de Vinci et le chef d’œuvre redécouvert: In the year of Leonardo da Vinci’s 500th birthday, the Louvre must authenticate one of the master’s works, The Madonna of the Yarnwinder, of which an original already exists. Is it a copy ?

FIFA has dedicated a full-day carte blanche to the Paris Opera at Cinéma Impérial. In this majestic venue, the screen will be lit up with short films and recordings of performances from 2019 that cannot be seen anywhere else in Montreal. Among the works presented will be a recording of Verdi’s Traviata with Pretty Yende in the lead role, Body and Soul, a choreography by Crystal Pite to the music of Frederic Chopin, and Les Indes Galantes by Jean-Philippe Rameau, with stage direction by Clément Cogitore and choreography by Bintou Dembele. It all takes place at Cinéma Impérial on Saturday, March 21.

Cirque du Soleil

FIFA presents a recording of one of the most beautiful shows in the world in Las Vegas. In “O”, Cirque du Soleil weaves a timeless and water-themed tapestry of art, surrealism and romance. Inspired by the concept of infinity and the purified elegance of water, “O” pays homage to the magic of the theatre – from the simple street performer to the most extravagant operas – where everything is possible and where the drama of life unfolds before our very eyes. World-class acrobats, synchronized swimmers, divers and enchanted characters perform their feats in, on and above the water, providing an extraordinary experience at the Cinéma Impérial on Thursday, March 26.

Fantasia, 1940

To mark the 80th anniversary of Fantasia, FIFA is screening a restored version of Walt Disney’s iconic film. A masterpiece of animation, Fantasia is a film on art that expresses the harmony between music and images in the truest tradition of Disney magic at Cinéma Impérial on Saturday, March 28 at 2 pm.

For more  information log on to artfifa.com.

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