Welcome to Film POP 2012!

This is my second year curating Film POP, and I’m thrilled that two of my lifelong programming dreams have been able to come true, thanks to the support of the festival. Namely, to screen Jerzy Skolimowski’s Deep End (1971) in a pool with the audience in the water, and to screen Richard Donner’s classic horror film The Omen (1976) from the altar of a beautiful old church at midnight. Both of those screenings become a reality this year for Film POP, and I couldn’t be more excited to share them with an audience that has demonstrated its openness and cult film fervour  through its unequaled support of our city’s many amazing film festivals.

Among our special guests this year are Emily Armstrong and Pat Ivers, who will be presenting a rare 2-part showcase of their 1970s New York public access TV show Nightclubbing – which acted as not only a launching pad for many now-seminal artists, but also a robust document of the New York punk scene and its transition into post-punk and no wave. You’ll see rare footage of Bush Tetras, Destroy All Monsters, Erasers, Student Teachers, Pylon, Talking Heads, Lounge Lizards, DNA, Teenage Jesus and the Jerks, Contortions, Suicide, James Blood Ulmer, Bad Brains, Dead Boys, Heartbreakers, Go-Go’s, Raybeats, Blondie, Cramps and much more.

Also joining us is legendary cult singer/songwriter Brute Force, one of the first artists signed to Apple Records but whose Beatles-championed single « The King of Fuh » was promptly banned from radio play worldwide, leaving Brute to pen his off-kilter pop songs in relative obscurity. As the subject of a  short eponymously-titled film by Ben Steinbauer (the director of the hilarious Winnebago Man), Brute Force will appear to perform live and answer questions. But he’s not the only underappreciated artist in the mix! We also open with a free screening of the Sundance hit documentary Searching for Sugarman about Rodriguez, and feature docs on Jobriath (glam icon and the first openly gay rock star), Lawrence (of Felt, Denim and Go-Kart Mozart), punk poet John Cooper Clarke, and Rhino Records, which has  outsider musicians and novelty acts galore. And if that’s not enough to sate your taste for weirdness, we’re also presenting a special retrospective screening of Jamie Meltzer’s Off the Charts, about the American mail-order song-poem phenomena, with live, on-the-spot song-poem interpretations by Robert Dayton (Of Canned Hamm and July Fourth Toilet) and friends TBA!

Filmmaker and Restorationist Walter Forsberg was a great ally in the creation of this year’s lineup; Walter has been championing the work of pioneering computer animator Lillian Schwartz since his early days as a film projectionist. It was his enthusiasm that led me to being such a fan of her work, and hehas gone on to write insightful essays about her scientific process, and has even been instrumental in the restoration of the film prints that we will see in Film POP’s groundbreaking retrospective of her work, which we present this year with the technical expertise of our partners, the Cinematheque quebecoise. One of Walter’s other restoration projects was the only surviving original Auroratone Film, a type of musical abstract film that would be used in post-war hospitals to soothe soldiers with post-traumatic stress disorder. Walter’s work on this film was the inspiration behind The Auroratone Project, an original commission by Film POP which solicited a number of Canadian experimental filmmakers to create new work, guided by the principles of the original Auroratones and set to music by artists participating in the 2012 POP Montreal music lineup. This will be a psychedelic, mind-altering experience not to be missed.

We’ll also be featuring new docs on Andrew Bird, Fifth Column (with director Kevin Hegge and star/DIY icon G.B. Jones in person!), Antony + the Johnsons, guitar prodigy Jason Becker, and our  official closing film (and SXSW smash!) centers on the musical hippie cult The Source Family! Plus short films, workshops, masterclasses, a video installation by multimedia artist Kathy Rose and more – this year’s Film POP may be the most exciting yet!

- Kier-La Janisse, Film POP Curator

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Technical equipment for Film POP is graciously sponsored by Videographe, with additional technical assistance from Philippe Spurrell of Le Cineclub/The Film Society.