The Reel Artists Film Festival returns this year with an exciting selection of 19 international feature-length and short documentary films, screening February 19 to 23 at the TIFF Bell Lightbox. Presented by the Canadian Art Foundation, RAFF is North America’s only festival of documentaries on visual art and artists.
This year’s festival lineup features films about some of the world’s most compelling visual artists, including the world premieres of the films Kehinde Wiley: An Economy of Grace and Richard Deacon – In Between—both with the artist subjects present and taking part in post-screening discussions.
Michael Landy, one of a very few creators ever named to the position of associate artist of Britain’s National Gallery, will also be doing a live talk following screenings of H2NY and Michael Landy: Saints Alive. The latter film documents how Landy won international acclaim last year for a an exhibition of startling and noisy “junk” sculptures made from that paid homage to art-historical depictions of saints. His appearance in Toronto is a must-see.
Prada Foundation artistic director Germano Celant is another luminary in attendance at RAFF. He will be speaking following a screening of When Attitudes Become Form: Bern 1969/Venice 2013, a documentary about the rave-reviewed exhibition that he curated at the foundation’s space in Venice last year.
Photography and self-portraiture is another thread explored at RAFF 2014. Following its US premiere at Art Basel Miami in December, the festival will host the Canadian premiere of Nan Goldin – I Remember Your Face, a look at the iconic New York photographer who pictures her intimates with great feeling. Also screening is LaToya Ruby Frazier Makes Moving Pictures, a profile of the rising American photographer who was shortlisted for the Art Gallery of Ontario’s Grange Prize last year in recognition of collaborations with her mother and grandmother.
Public art promises to be a popular point of focus at RAFF as well. How do you suspend a 340-ton granite boulder above a public walkway and get away with it? The answer is found in Levitated Mass, a documentary about American artist Michael Heizer’s plan to do just that for the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Closer to home, Toronto’s own issues around transit and public art come to the fore in a panel following Artists on the Underground, a documentary about the London Tube’s successful bridging of art and transit. Join Spacing senior editor Dylan Reid, Art in Transit curator Sharon Switzer and others to discuss how to apply those strategies in the GTA.
Community comes to the fore in a different way in Backbone: Vancouver Experimental Cinema 1967-1981. It’s an exploration of experimental cinema as seen through the eyes of Vancouver filmmakers active during the cultural revolution of the 1960s and 70s. David Rimmer, Al Razutis, Sturla Gunnarsson and several others reflect upon the 1970s, Vancouver and a global cinematic art movement that helped shape contemporary filmmaking. Following the screening, there will be a panel with director Richard Martin, artist Sturla Gunnarson and Liaison of Independent Filmmakers of Toronto executive director Chris Kennedy.
“We are thrilled to present this year’s standout list of documentary films to our dedicated audience, and to welcome such renowned artistic talent to the festival,” says Jacqueline Howe, interim executive director of the Canadian Art Foundation and publisher of Canadian Art magazine. “Having the privilege to hear these artists discuss their work with the filmmakers and other visual art experts truly furthers RAFF’s goal of inviting the wider public to engage with contemporary art.”
The festival kicks off with a gala presentation of Kehinde Wiley: An Economy of Grace on February 19. After that gala, from February 20 to 23, tickets to regular festival screenings are $12 general admission, $8 for students/seniors with valid ID.
The following is a list of all the RAFF 2014 screenings. For more details, visit canadianart.ca/raff.
Wednesday, February 19
8:30 p.m. Kehinde Wiley: An Economy of Grace – WORLD PREMIERE – Opening Night Screening and Celebration – Post-screening discussion with Kehinde Wiley and Suzanne Boyd, editor of Zoomer
Thursday, February 20
7 p.m. The Clay Diaries – CANADIAN PREMIERE
Friday, February 21
7 p.m. Kehinde Wiley: An Economy of Grace – ENCORE PRESENTATION – Post-screening discussion with Kehinde Wiley and Julie Crooks, doctoral candidate at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London
9 p.m. Richard Deacon – In Between – WORLD PREMIERE – Post-screening discussion with Richard Deacon and director Claudia Schmid
Saturday, February 22
1 p.m. Quand les attitudes deviennent formes – CANADIAN PREMIERE with When Attitudes Become Form: Bern 1969/Venice 2013 – Post-screening lecture by Germano Celant, Prada Foundation artistic director and curator
3:15 p.m. Levitated Mass – CANADIAN PREMIERE
5:30 p.m. Michael Landy: Saints Alive – NORTH AMERICAN PREMIERE with H2NY and Art Bin – Post-screening discussion with artist Michael Landy, director Jared Schiller and University of Toronto art history professor Elizabeth Legge
7:30 p.m. – Artists on the Underground – NORTH AMERICAN PREMIERE with Who is Community? and White City – Post-screening discussion with Spacing senior editor Dylan Reid, Art in Transit curator Sharon Switzer, and others
9:30 p.m. – Chimeras
Sunday, February 23
12:15 p.m. Breathing Earth – TORONTO PREMIERE
2:30 p.m. Fifi Howls from Happiness – TORONTO PREMIERE
5 p.m. Backbone: Vancouver Experimental Cinema – TORONTO FESTIVAL PREMIERE – Post-screening conversation with director Richard Martin, artist Sturla Gunnarson and Liaison of Independent Filmmakers of Toronto executive director Chris Kennedy
For more information and to buy tickets, visit canadianart.ca/raff.