For 25 years the Images Festival has furthered the understanding of art and culture in the city of Toronto by particularly paying attention specifically to the filmed and photographed. One of the more interesting events of the calendar year for film and arts buffs, the festival enters its landmark anniversary with a typically eclectic and ambitious line-up of installations, talks, and screenings at venues throughout the city to appeal to almost every artistic sensibility.
Although the festival technically started this past Wednesday with a one off gala screening of Marielle Nitoslawska’s performance art meditation Breaking the Frame and continues with a free screening of pop culture artist Lewis Klahr’s The Pettifogger this Wednesday at 7p at the TIFF Bell Lightbox, the official kick off to this year’s festival goes down Thursday the 12th with a screening of John Akomfrah’s The Nine Muses (The Royal, 6:45pm), a stunning 16mm retelling of The Odyssey using African and Jamaican immigrants from the 1950s to construct a literary journey through the 20th century nomadic experience. It’s a great test for those looking to dip their toes into the waters of more artistically minded cinema.
As someone who has climbed New Hampshire’s Mount Washington, I’m greatly looking forward to Jacqueline Goss’ The Observers (Saturday, April 14th, 7:30pm, AGO Jackman Hall), which uses another literary starting point (this time Nathaniel Hawthorne’s short story The Great Carbuncle) to document the lives of the people operating one of North America’s busiest and most renowned weather stations. Similarly nature themed, and also worth nothing is Ben Rivers’ hand processed 35mm backpacking travelogue Two Years at Sea (Sunday, April 15th, 9pm, Jackman Hall), which has been crafted to look like a grainy, bleak artefact.
Fans of short filmmaking will have their hands full with the many programs offered. There are student made shorts from around the world in S is for Student (Sunday, April 15th, 5pm, Jackman Hall, at PWYC pricing), meditations on life, death, and what comes after in A Letter to the Living (Tuesday, April 17th, 9pm, Jackman Hall), looks at the human relationship to their surroundings in A Place in the World (Monday, April 16th, 7pm, Jackman Hall, anchored by the anticipated short East Hastings Pharmacy from Antoine Bourges), and several others.
Being an anniversary year and all, the festival has broken up their celebratory festivities and looks back into two parts. At both, founding members of the Images board will revisit and present films they programmed that had the largest personal impact for them. On the first evening (Friday, April 13th, 8pm, Jackman Hall) TIFF Co-director Cameron Bailey, filmmaker Annette Mangaard, Queens professor Frances Leeming, and performer/filmmaker Ross Turnbull showcase their selections. On the second night (Thursday, April 19th, 9pm, 204 Spadina Avenue), journalist Marc Glassman, video artist Wendy Geller, jack of all trades Richard Fung, digital media professor Janine Marchassault, and world renowned performance artist Kim Tomczak have their say.
The festival comes to a close in a big way on the 21st at 8pm at the Toronto Underground Cinema with the rare 35mm exhibition of the nature films of Jacques Cousteau’s greatest precursor Jean Painleve set to the music of notable indie rock trio Yo La Tengo performing a live score for the films. Not only does it serve as a great cinematic tribute for film buffs, but for music nerd it’s a great opportunity to catch the once broken up band outside of a concert hall setting. The screening will be followed at 10pm by a free admission afterparty almost directly across the street at 204 Spadina Avenue.
For more information on screenings, showtimes, special presentations, talks, and venues, it would be a great idea to try and pick up one of the comprehensive and gorgeous looking programming books that can be found at participating venues all over the city. It’s an almost indispensable one stop resource that also includes great historical essay from Toronto artist Andrew James Paterson on the history of the festival that’s both candid and informative. Or, you know, there’s also the Images website that’s also pretty great. That would be a good place to start, too.