Thursday, July 8, 2010

Essential Cinema exhibition to open TIFF Lightbox

The Toronto International Film Festival has announced a major free exhibition to launch the opening of the new TIFF Bell Lightbox that will be the festival's home when it officially opens on September 12, 2010. Included in the design of the new facility will be gallery space. The exhibition also takes place in other galleries in Toronto.

It will feature artworks from the films that were selected as the Essential 100 films to watch. There will be other additional installations and events at Lightbox. Here are all the details.

The Essential Cinema exhibition features iconic objects and photographs from the history of cinema as well as film-based artworks from major international artists and filmmakers, including new commissions and many Toronto premieres

TORONTO – Noah Cowan, Artistic Director, TIFF Bell Lightbox, today unveiled key highlights of the Essential Cinema exhibition, the inaugural exhibition at TIFF’s new home inspired by the Essential 100, a film list based on TIFF expert and audience votes. Launching on September 12, this free exhibition will take place not only in the new gallery space at TIFF Bell Lightbox but also in other locations in the building and throughout the city of Toronto. In addition, this year’s Future Projections, the Toronto International Film Festival’s popular programme of moving-image projects, will be linked to the Essential Cinema exhibition. With projects in several of the city’s significant cultural institutions, Future Projections will feature major artworks relating to films and filmmakers on the Essential 100 list. The Essential Cinema exhibition also sees TIFF’s first major new film commissioning project since the Festival’s 25th Anniversary Preludes in 2000, which produced such works as Guy Maddin’s The Heart of the World (2000). The Essential Cinema exhibition is curated by Noah Cowan and Michael Connor and is designed by Barr Gilmore and Michel Arcand.
“The unveiling of this exhibition officially marks the beginning of TIFF’s new life at its new home,” said Cowan. “We are grateful to the wonderful participating artists who have created and allowed us to show their work and to the many cultural institutions in Toronto and around the world who have collaborated with us in putting together this exhibition. Without their goodwill and creativity this exhibition could not exist.”

The Essential Cinema exhibition will include:
  • A large “wunderkammer” (“cabinet of curiosities” room) featuring the objects, costumes, photographs, sound clips, music and other items that make the films in the Essential 100 list iconic. See available details on the next page.
  • Four newly commissioned media artworks related to the Essential 100 list: Hauntings I and II by Guy Maddin, 8½ Screens by Atom Egoyan, E-100 by James Andean and François Xavier Saint-Pierre and Essential Titles by Barr Gilmore.
  • Eleven moving-image projects related to films and filmmakers on the Essential 100 list, including work by Martin Arnold, Douglas Gordon, Stan Douglas, Michael Snow, William Kentridge and Ming Wong. These works will be presented both at TIFF Bell Lightbox and off site, as part of the Future Projections programme. They will be free and open to the public for the duration of the Toronto International Film Festival from September 9 to 19, 2010.  Venues include The Royal Ontario Museum, The Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art (MOCCA), The Power Plant, The Drake Hotel, Gallery TPW and Stephen Bulger Gallery.
Essential Cinema is a serious exhibition with a playful heart,” continued Cowan. “It represents the deep bond we have with our audiences around the history, culture and future of cinema. We created the Essential 100 list together with our audience and now we can share cinema’s greatest treasures, as brought to life by some of the world’s greatest artists. We are also delighted that the cross-media curatorial experiment of Future Projections has grown into such a central part of this city’s cultural life and a signal programme to welcome TIFF Bell Lightbox into the circle of Toronto’s new and reimagined cultural buildings.”

"Our dream for TIFF Bell Lightbox ten years ago was to provide unique film-related experiences for our many audiences," said Piers Handling, Director and CEO of TIFF. "Now the world can see what will make us a truly unique institution, ready to build towards a future where TIFF Bell Lightbox is viewed as a hub of creativity, innovation and education for audiences of all ages."

Essential Cinema also includes a programme of screenings, lectures and concerts that will begin on September 23, 2010 and will continue until the end of 2010. Details to be announced later this summer.  The Essential 100 list is attached.

Essential Cinema exhibition – September 12 to October 23
The Essential Cinema exhibition will transform the gallery spaces of TIFF Bell Lightbox into a journey through the Essential 100, TIFF’s list of the most influential films of all time. Bringing together iconic costumes, film stills, posters, music samples and film clips, the exhibition charts these works – all 100 of them – that have played such a key role in defining film culture for more than a century. Highlights include Robert De Niro’s cab license, used while researching his role in Martin Scorcese’s Taxi Driver (1976), original release posters from Vittorio De Sica’s Bicycle Thieves (1948) and Carl Theodor Dreyer’s The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928), and original storyboards from Gone With the Wind (1939) depicting the evacuation of Atlanta. The exhibition will also include a special section, developed in partnership with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, exploring elements of the creative process behind Alfred Hitchcock’s classic thriller Vertigo (1958), from costume design to Saul Bass’ iconic title sequence.

The main gallery space also includes three contemporary art projects: Slidelength (1969-71) by Canadian master Michael Snow, Jeanne (2003) by Austrian artist Martin Arnold and Douglas Gordon’s 24 Hour Psycho Back and Forth and To and Fro (2008), which will be featured in the TIFF Bell Lightbox windows facing King Street West. These works are also included in this year’s Future Projections programme at the Toronto International Film Festival. Full descriptions are provided below.

Essential Cinema exhibition - Commissions Opening September 12
Guy Maddin: Hauntings I and II – World premiere
TIFF Bell Lightbox will be haunted by a series of short film installations that are meant to invoke and appease the ghosts of cinema. Starting from the premise that every filmmaker has an unrealized project, a half-finished or abandoned film doomed to oblivion or left on the cutting-room floor, Maddin will produce a series of shorts that explore the lost history of cinema. Hauntings I involves eleven projections in the main gallery space showing recreated fragments of lost or unrealized film masterpieces; Hauntings II will illuminate TIFF Bell Lightbox’s fifth floor windows every night of the Festival, forming a ghostly curtain that will reveal a siren beckoning visitors to enter. Hauntings I will be presented at TIFF Bell Lightbox’s main gallery space from September 12 to October 23. Hauntings II will be projected from TIFF Bell Lightbox’s fifth floor windows every night of the Festival from September 9 to 19.


Atom Egoyan: 8½ Screens – World premiere

A key scene from Fellini’s masterpiece 8½ and a reversal of the customary relationship between the projector, the audience and the screen are Atom Egoyan’s tools of choice for celebrating the emotionally interconnected nature of film viewing. This piece was specifically designed for TIFF Bell Lightbox’s Cinema 4 and it will be presented from September 12 to October 3.

James Andean and François Xavier Saint-Pierre: E-100 – World premiere
E-100 is a sound installation in which key samples of film dialogue culled from the films in the Essential 100 list are heard both clearly and obliquely in conjunction with a randomizer algorithm patched to various instrumental samples that include a vernacular of orchestral film sounds: swelling strings, a plaintive piano, upbeat pop music, etc. The samples interact in random variations over the duration of a cycle, interweaving dialogue, environmental sounds and instrumental accompaniment. This sonic tapestry of film references will allow audiences to experience cinema’s most significant moments outside the visual realm. E-100 will be presented in TIFF Bell Lightbox’s Cinema 5 from September 12 to October 3.

Barr Gilmore: Essential Titles – World premiere
Essential Titles is a 5-minute looped motion graphic projection that isolates and recreates only the title and director's credit from the opening sequences of all of the films on the Essential 100 list — mimicking their transitions and time on screen and layering all of them in real time to create a visually stunning piece that will act as an environmental graphic at the entrance of the exhibition from September 12 to October 3

Future Projections – September 9 to 19
Future Projections is the Toronto International Film Festival’s popular city-wide programme of moving-image art projects, inspired by the history and culture of cinema. Most of the projects in this year’s edition will be extensions of the Essential Cinema exhibition, referencing films or filmmakers on the Essential 100 list. Confirmed partners include The Power Plant, The Museum of Contemporary

Canadian Art, The Drake Hotel, Gallery TPW, Stephen Bulger gallery and The Royal Ontario Museum's Institute for Contemporary Culture. Future Projections projects will be free and open to the public for the duration of the Toronto International Film Festival from September 9 to 19.

Michael Snow: Slidelength (1969-71)
Michael Snow’s projection-based work comprises eighty 35mm colour slides projected at 15-second intervals. This project is related to Snow’s own Wavelength, film # 73 on the Essential 100 list. Snow was recently the subject of a significant career retrospective at The Power Plant, Toronto. Presented within the Essential Cinema exhibition at TIFF Bell Lightbox’s main gallery.

Martin Arnold: Jeanne (2003) – Toronto premiere
Austrian artist Martin Arnold presents a digital manipulation of the trial scene from the # 1 film on the list, Carl Theodor Dreyer’s The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928). The piece stitches together close-up shots of actress Renée Falconetti to create a seamless, never-ending portrait of human suffering. Arnold’s work with found footage in cinema has been presented in galleries and museums worldwide. Presented within the Essential Cinema exhibition at TIFF Bell Lightbox’s main gallery.

Douglas Gordon: 24 Hour Psycho Back and Forth and To and Fro (2008) – Toronto premiere
A dual-channel video installation which consists of two side-by-side projections of Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho (1960), film # 68 on the list. Both projections are slowed down to a duration of twenty-four hours, one playing forwards and the other in reverse so that they meet at one point, with an identical image that lasts for one second. This is the Toronto premiere of the work, an adaptation of the artist’s much-celebrated 24 Hour Psycho. Gordon won the Turner Prize in 1996 and has been a leading art world figure ever since. His film Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait, premiered at the Cannes International Film Festival in 2006. Presented within the Essential Cinema exhibition at TIFF Bell Lightbox’s main gallery.

The Otolith Group: Otolith III (2009) – Toronto premiere
A 48-minute single-screen projection, Otolith III takes as its point of departure The Alien (1967), the unrealized sci-fi screenplay by the legendary Bengali auteur Satyajit Ray about a friendly alien visiting a rural Bengal village. Filmed in London, Otolith III is an experiment in temporal and geographical displacement that its makers call a “premake”, a remake of a film before the original that proposes an alternative trajectory. Satyajit Ray directed Pather Panchali (1955), film # 7 on the list. The Otolith Group (named after the structure in the inner ear that gives us a sense of gravity and orientation) was formed in 2000 by London-based artists Anjalika Sagar and Kodwo Eshun. They have been nominated for the 2010 Turner Prize. Presented in collaboration with The Power Plant, 231 Queens Quay West.

Stan Douglas: Klatsassin (2006) – Toronto premiere
Klatsassin refashions Akira Kurosawa's Rashomon (1950), a tale of murder with a narrative told from four different viewpoints, as a western rooted in the historical context of the Gold Rush and the annexation of land along Canada’s west coast. Named after the Tsîlhqot’in Chief who stood accused of leading an insurrection in 1864, which led to the deaths of ten road-builders and the so-called Chilcotin War, the film comprises twenty-seven scenes looped together in various random combinations on an ongoing basis. As it can run without repetition for more than seventy hours, with each character telling his version of events, Klatsassin presents an endless array of possibilities, destroying conventional senses of time, memory, perspective and truth. Rashomon is the # 14 film on the list. Internationally recognized Canadian artist Stan Douglas is renowned for deconstructing linear narratives into complex, loop-like structures. Presented in collaboration with Stephen Bulger Gallery, 1026 Queen Street West.

William Kentridge: Journey to the Moon (2003) – Toronto premiere
Using Georges Méliès' A Trip to the Moon (1902) as a point of departure, Kentridge masterfully combines live action and stop motion in homage to the beginning of filmmaking and to Méliès' magical experimentations. Kentridge performs for the camera, playing the scientist/artist who dreams of worlds afar and encounters a muse, but ultimately cannot escape. Journey to the Moon was presented at the 2005 Venice Biennale. A Trip to the Moon is film # 49 on the list. William Kentridge is an acclaimed South African draughtsman, filmmaker and sculptor whose work combines the political with the poetic. Presented in collaboration with Gallery TPW, 56 Ossington Avenue.

Perry Bard: Man With a Movie Camera: The Global Remake (2007-ongoing) – Toronto premiere
Man With a Movie Camera: The Global Remake is a participatory video shot by people around the world who are invited to record images that re-interpret Dziga Vertov’s Man With a Movie Camera (1929), film # 9 on the list. After recording an image, participants upload them to Bard’s website, and then Bard’s custom software archives, sequences and streams the submissions as a linear film. Anyone can upload footage and each contribution becomes part of a worldwide montage - in Vertov’s words the “decoding of life as it is”.  Perry Bard is a public art, video, and installation artist originally from Québec and now based in New York City. She works individually and collaboratively on interdisciplinary projects for public space. Presented in collaboration with The Drake Hotel, 1150 Queen Street West.

Chris Chong Chan Fui + Yasuhiro Morinaga: Heavenhell (2009) – Toronto premiere
Akira Kurosawa – director of two films on the Essential 100 list – was unable to shoot the slum scene on the infamous brothel streets of Koganecho, Yokohama for his film High and Low (1963), as it was considered much too dangerous for his cast and crew. Heavenhell is a six-channel audio-video installation, commissioned by NPO Koganecho Area Management Center in Yokohama, that restages the stylized scene in the location Kurosawa originally intended. Recruiting local youth in the now cleaned-up neighbourhood, Chris Chong Chan Fui and Yasuhiro Morinaga (who have previously collaborated on award-winning films Block B and Karaoke) create a suspenseful conflation triptych where the present exhumes the past. Akira Kurosawa is represented by two films on the Essential 100 list, Rashomon, film # 14 on the list, and Seven Samurai, film # 6 on the list. Chris Chong Chan Fui is an award-winning Malaysian-Canadian filmmaker and media artist, who has recently exhibited work at the Cannes International Film Festival, le Centre Pompidou and the Hirshhorn Museum. Yasuhiro Morinaga is a Tokyo-based sound artist. Curated by Andréa Picard. Presented in collaboration with The Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art, 952 Queen Street West.

Ming Wong: In Love for the Mood (2009) – Toronto premiere 
Originally commissioned for the 2009 Venice Biennale for the artist's solo exhibition Life of Imitation at the Singapore Pavilion, In Love for the Mood is inspired by Hong Kong filmmaker Wong Kar-wai’s meditation on love and infidelity In the Mood for Love (2000), film # 52 on the list. A Caucasian actress plays both the leading man and woman and attempts to deliver the lines in Cantonese. These are recorded in three loops, played simultaneously on three screens. Curator Russell Storer writes of the piece, “Despite Ming’s distancing techniques, and even though it is known that the actress can’t understand the language she is speaking, the scenes are still remarkably poignant, proving the power of cinema to draw the audience into its affective realm.” Award-winning Singaporean artist Ming Wong explores the performative veneers of language and identity, through his own interpretation of world cinema. Presented in the RBC Learning Studio.  

Jennifer and Kevin McCoy: Soft Rains #6: Suburban Horror (part 1) (2003) – Toronto premiere

The Soft Rains series consist of miniature robotic film sets that recreate familiar cinema archetypes and genres. For this work, the McCoys created a tiny diorama of an unsettling suburban idyll inspired by David Lynch’s Blue Velvet (1986), film # 92 on the list. Live video cameras trained on this diorama create an endlessly looping video sequence, presented on a nearby projection screen.  Jennifer and Kevin McCoy are a Brooklyn-based couple who work with interactive media, film, performance and installation to explore personal experience in relation to new technology, the mass media, and global commerce. Presented in collaboration with The Royal Ontario Museum’s Institute for Contemporary Culture, 100 Queen’s Park.

About TIFF
TIFF is a not-for-profit cultural organization whose mission is to transform the way people see the world through film. Its vision is to lead the world in creative and cultural discovery through the moving image. TIFF generates an annual economic impact of $170 million CAD and currently employs more than 100 full-time staff and 500 part-time and seasonal staff, and counts upon the largesse of over 2,000 volunteers year-round.

About TIFF Bell Lightbox
Currently under construction, TIFF Bell Lightbox, a breathtaking five-storey complex located in downtown Toronto, will provide a permanent home for film lovers to celebrate cinema from around the world and will propel TIFF forward as an international leader in film culture. Designed by innovative architecture firm KPMB, TIFF Bell Lightbox’s fluid structure encourages exploration, movement
and play. The campaign to build TIFF Bell Lightbox is generously supported by lead sponsor Bell, the Province of Ontario, the Government of Canada, the King and John Festival Corporation – consisting of the Reitman family and the Daniels Corporation –
RBC as major sponsor and official bank, major sponsor BlackBerry, Visah†, the Copyright Collective of Canada, the Slaight Family Foundation, The Daniels Corporation, NBC Universal Canada, the Brian Linehan Charitable Foundation, the Harbinger Foundation, Mackenzie Financial, CIBC and BMO. The Board of Directors, staff and many generous individuals and corporations have also contributed to the campaign. For more information on the TIFF Bell Lightbox campaign, visit
TIFF Bell Lightbox is generously supported by Lead Sponsor Bell, Major Sponsors RBC and Blackberry, the Government of Ontario, the Government of Canada and the City of Toronto.
The Essential 100 and Future Projections is presented with the generous support of the Ontario Arts Council and the Hal Jackman Foundation

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