A popular film course introduced last year for undergraduate students who aren’t enrolled in the Faculty of Fine Arts is being offered again this winter. The course gives students in other areas of study the chance to explore how film can shape the experience of other arts, such as dance, music, painting, photography and performance.
Special Topics in Fine Arts: Films on Art (FFAR 298S) examines the presentation of art through documentary, experimental and fictional films.
“The students get to develop ideas about art, hone a sharper eye for the art of film, and debate topics that can be quite polarizing — for example, what to make of [performance artist] Chris Burden’s video in which he gets shot in the arm with a rifle and calls it art?” says lecturer Nicolas Renaud, who teaches the class.
Renaud says he found the discussion in last year’s inaugural class on art and film interesting. The students came from diverse fields of study and had various degrees of knowledge about art.
“It’s not about discovering art through film, like going to a museum, but discussing how a film can shape the experience of other arts…the insights we may get into the creative process of art through film and the critical discourse it may offer,” Renaud explains.
The elective course leverages a partnership between Concordia University and the International Festival of Films on Art (FIFA). Students will have free access to some of the screenings during the festival, which runs from March 14 to 24, 2013, and they will be required to write one related assignment.
One of the screenings in the course is by legendary documentary filmmaking brothers Albert and David Maysles. Running Fence immerses viewers in the creative process of artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude in stretching a fence of white fabric across the hills in California.
“The film is about the artwork but also about the culture, economics and social reality,” says Renaud. “You see how the artists dealt with local politicians, engineers and the social network involved in putting this artwork together.”
Other topics include the role of the National Film Board (NFB) in Canadian culture and the film industry. During the 1940s, the NFB produced films about Canadian artists, including Tom Thomson and A.Y. Jackson from the Group of Seven. Apart from contributing to documenting modern Canadian art, the films provide insight into the technological history of filmmaking itself. The NFB used 16mm Kodachrome film, which was unusual at the time when most films were shot in black and white.
Contemporary documentary cinema is also on the curriculum, such as the controversial — and Oscar-nominated — Exit Through the Gift Shop, by street artist Banksy. Celebrated filmmaker Werner Herzog was given exclusive access to the world’s oldest known cave paintings for 2010’s Cave of Forgotten Dreams, which was shot in 3-D.
At least one guest filmmaker will also come to discuss his or her work with the students.
“This is a great opportunity to take advantage of Concordia’s facilities and attend a class in a movie theatre to watch films on the big screen,” Renaud notes.
To register, visit the MyConcordia portal and search for the code FFAR 298S in the undergraduate class schedule. The course will be held on Thursdays from 8:45 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. It’s offered to non-Fine Arts students only, and can’t be applied to a BFA or any Fine Arts specialization, major or minor program.