Though it may seem like festival season is winding down, film buffs have something very special to look forward to this weekend. The 14th edition of the Montreal Stop Motion Film Festival is back for three days of astonishing artistry and sensational storytelling.

Founded by Concordia Film Animation professor Erik Goulet, this homegrown festival was the first of its kind to focus purely on stop motion when it debuted back in 2009. Ever since, it has played host to both celebrated professionals and up-and-coming indie filmmakers from around the world. Their dedication to an art form equally painstaking and breathtaking has kept audiences coming back for more, even as Hollywood seemingly overlooks the medium.

The sad fact remains, precious few stop motion features are produced by major studios, in spite of movies like The Nightmare Before Christmas, ParaNorman, Coraline, The Fantastic Mr. Fox, Chicken Run and The Little Prince earning widespread acclaim. Even if the bigwigs are determined to overlook it, this annual gathering is a reminder of the astonishing versatility of stop motion, especially when utilized by bold storytellers.

This year’s program covers a wide variety of subjects, from the whimsical to the thought-provoking. Sitting somewhere comfortably in the middle is Bear Hug, a deceptively simple short about a young bear’s quest for companionship on his birthday.

Director Margrethe Danielsen gives her adorable lead character a beautifully detailed forest to explore as he finds himself torn between the ways of his fellow bears and the local bird brigade, neither of whom are especially welcoming. The results are utterly charming, thanks in no small part to the tactile appeal of the medium, which she takes full advantage of.

The Annie Award-winning and Oscar-nominated Bestia

While Danielsen’s furry outcast is appealing, the lead in Bestia is the stuff of nightmares. Director Hugo Covarrubias’ chilling portrait of Ingrid Olderöck – a real-life agent of the Chilean Secret Police who tortured and raped political opponents with the assistance of her dog – is a sobering reminder that not all animation is intended for children.

Meditating on how systems can dehumanize and displace, Bestia manages to be as tense as any live action psychological thriller and especially clever in its choice of materials. The lead’s frozen, shiny, porcelain-like visage captures perfectly the terrifying artifice of her identity.

As she grapples with increasingly intense nightmares about her life’s work, her stone cold expression is changed ever so slightly to express fear, uncertainty and rage. It’s impressive in its subtlety and upsetting in its realism.

Other Half, meanwhile, goes a more surreal route in telling an almost mythological tale about trying to feel complete in a world where coupledom is king. Produced by an LGBTQ+ team during the first covid lockdown, this film’s colorful combination of Claymation and stop motion techniques brings the lead character’s journey of self-discovery to vivid life.

And there are a few good laughs sprinkled throughout, especially when Ren desperately utters that all-too-familiar refrain of “we can make it work!” as yet another relationship turns sour. Haven’t we all been there?

Other Half‘s Ren surrounded by besties

Upon further reflection, a unifying theme actually does seem to link this year’s slate of animated offerings: the frustrations of isolation and the importance of connecting with other (stable) people, which seems only fitting, given the two years we’ve just endured.

Best then to head on over to the de Sève cinema this weekend, where an animated crowd awaits, excited to encourage the efforts of filmmakers as eager as they are to reconnect.

Featured Image from Bear Hug, playing at the Montreal Stop Motion Film Festival

For ticket information and a full rundown of the remarkable films in competition, visit the Montreal Stop Motion Film Festival’s website. The festival concludes this Sunday the 18th.

This week, we’re chock full of festivals, three of them running simultaneously and one of them running two shows at the same time in different locations. This is going to be a busy weekend, so let’s get started:

MEG is Back at Parc Jean Drapeau & the SAT

MEG Montréal is celebrating its 23rd edition with two four-day parties in two locations: the Piknic Électronik site at Parc Jean Drapeau and the Société des arts technologiques (SAT) on the lower Main. They’re bringing in legends like Fatboy Slim, Hugo TSR, Misstress Barbara and Dillon Francis and also have a panel to discussn “Hip-hop culture in all its states, between France and Quebec.”

MEG’s plan has always been to set “the stage for up-and-coming electro hip-hop artists, with a mission of bringing curious, open-minded night owls together for an unforgettable experience.” This year’s “back to school” edition promises to be no different.

Have a look at a video of MEG 2019:

MEG Festival runs September 2-5 with shows running simultaneously at Parc Jean Drapeau (Piknic Électronik site) and at SAT (Société des arts technologiques), 1201 Boul. Saint-Laurent. For tickets and schedule, please visit MEGMontreal.com

Estival du nouveau cinéma Gets the Ball Rolling

Nope, that’s not a typo and nope, we’re not early. 51st Festival du nouveau cinéma still takes place from October 5 to 16, however this weekend, for the second time, they’re getting the ball rolling early with Estival du nouveau cinéma, a mini-fest made up of four nights of screenings at the Esplanade Tranquille in Quartier des spectacles.

It kicks off tonight with L’Infonie Inachevée, the landmark 1973 Quebec documentary by Roger Frappier, then tomorrow Oscar-winning director and screenwriter Paolo Sorrentino revisits his youth in late 80s Naples in The Hand of God. On Saturday, Montreal and global icon Leonard Cohen is front and centre in the new documentary Hallelujah: Leonard Cohen, A Journey, A Song. The mini-fest concludes Sunday with a presentation of Dune (the recent Denis Villeneuve version, not the David Lynch one from decades ago).

Estival du nouveau cinéma runs September 1-4 with 8pm showtimes at the Esplanade Tranquille in Quartier des spectacles. FREE. Info at NouveauCinema.ca

FME in Abitibi

Okay, admittedly, this one isn’t exactly a Montreal show this week, or even a Montreal region show this week, but it is in Quebec, Rouyn-Noranda in the Abitibi-Témiscamingue region specifically. And it is quite the show.

Festival de Musique Émergente en Abitibi-Témiscamingue (FME) features over 90 acts from all genres on nine stages over four days. Hubert Lenoir, Animal Collective, Lisa Leblanc, Rich Aucoin and many many more performers will be there.

FME’s 20th Anniversary runs September 1-4. For the lineup and more info, please visit fmeat.org

Featured Image from The Hand of God, courtesy of Festival du nouveau cinéma

If you know of an event that you feel should be covered, please contact arts@forgetthebox.net or music@forgetthebox.net

No promises but we’ll do our best

Legendary British actor Malcolm McDowell is in Montreal this week for a special Just For Laughs event promoting his CBC comedy series Son of a Critch. Going by a story he told at the recent Montreal Comic Con, however, we should consider ourselves lucky he’s here at all.

During the course of his hour-long panel at the Con, the prolific performer fielded questions from fans about his work in everything from A Clockwork Orange and Heroes to Star Trek and Halloween, all while dropping hints that one of his worst professional experiences was somehow linked to MTL. When someone finally found the courage to ask him outright what had happened, McDowell spilled the beans in his inimitable fashion.

“I’ll tell you this – the only time I was ripped off by a producer was in Montreal. That is the only time in a 60-year career that I was actually not paid. They paid half and suddenly on the last day of shooting I get a call from my agent in LA who goes, ‘Stop working! Don’t do anything else!’ and I went, ‘It’s the last day – are you kidding me? That’s no threat. They’ve got everything they need!’”

After the crowd’s laughter died down, the 79-year-old recalled exactly which project had ripped him off. “It was a remake of The Portrait of Dorian Gray,” he remembered with a chuckle. “They paid me a little bit and still owed me quite a lot of money and then, like five years later, somebody else bought it (…) and I got this call to say, ‘look, German TV will pay you half of your fee. What do you want to do?’ and I went ‘Take it. Absolutely. A half is better than nothing, right?’ So that’s Montreal filmmaking for me!” he quipped. “No, I loved working in this city and it was fantastic, except for that nasty little surprise at the end.”

Pact With The Devil, the Montreal-made picture that failed to properly pay McDowell

Pact with the Devil, also released under the title Dorian, costarred Christoph Waltz and Ethan Erickson and was filmed here in 2002. Thankfully, it’s not the only project McDowell associates with Montreal. “I did a movie here with Mos Def,” he told the crowd, citing 2000’s horror picture Island of the Dead. “It was a cool little movie and the food was good too!” he said of our unparalleled local catering.

“I’ve always loved Montreal. It’s a great city. I’ve had wonderful times here and made some weird little movies here, so it’s a pleasure to be back. I’ve been shooting in Newfoundland doing the second season of Son of a Critch, a show that I absolutely love, and it’s a fantastic place too. I really love being there and I’m going to be there for the next two months.”

Critch is based on the 2018 memoir of the same name written by Mark Critch, of This Hour Has 22 Minutes fame. The comedian stars as his own father in the semi-autobiographical series, which flashes back to his upbringing in the 1980s and features McDowell in the role of grandfather Patrick.

When asked by a convention-goer if he’d been officially ‘screeched in’, he feigned ignorance of the classic Newfie tradition, retorting, “Is this where they hit you over the face with the wet fish?” The tradition actually involves getting newcomers to The Rock to recite a poem, take a shot and kiss a cod. “No, they didn’t do that to me, I’m glad to say,” he remarked before adding, “at this point, I think we’ve probably gone past that. I’m now a sort of honorary Newfoundlander.”

The cast of CBC’s Son of a Critch

“In the new season, I do get to go out fishing for cod with my son Mark Critch, who is a wonderful humorist and terrific writer,” he went on to say. “Of course, things don’t go smoothly and we try to get a bit of comedy out of it, as you might expect. It’s such a fun series. I love it.”

Returning for Just For Laughs, McDowell will be joined by the cast and creative team of Critch for a special panel and discussion this Saturday the 30th at Doubletree by Hilton. It seems a safe bet, however, that his thoughts might also turn to fellow thespian David Warner, as they did during the Comic Con. Warner sadly passed away this week at the age of 80, losing his battle with “a cancer-related illness” after a lengthy career on stage and screen.

Though he is best known to the public for his supporting role in James Cameron’s Titanic and voice work in shows like Batman: The Animated Series and Disney’s Gargoyles, Warner is fondly remembered by McDowell because of their earliest days together in the Royal Shakespeare Company.

“My great mate was David Warner,” McDowell said during the convention, flashing back to Warner’s star turn in 1965, at the age of 24. “David was playing Hamlet. He was the Beatles generation Hamlet and used to get like 300 schoolgirls outside the stage door waiting for him after his performance, all screaming. I mean, it scared him to death, but ahhh…those were the days! It was fun.”

The two would go on to appear in 1979’s Time After Time, where McDowell played H.G. Wells opposite Warner’s Jack The Ripper.

McDowell and Warner in 1979’s Time After Time

In spite of the ups and downs of a life in the limelight, McDowell seems to have weathered the storms no worse for wear. “I’m really having so much fun as an older actor, actually. It’s lovely and delicious, because I get to play the full spectrum of parts now, from serial killers to grandfathers. And yeah, I kind of enjoy playing psychos because you can do things you can’t even dream of as a person. As a character, you can go nuts and have so much fun. And I love doing comedies because it’s the hardest thing to do. Real emoting is really easy, basically, but the real tough stuff is comedy and timing and getting a laugh, especially on film or on television. It’s always very difficult but it’s challenging and I really enjoy it. That’s why I’m doing Son of a Critch.”

Malcolm McDowell and the Son of a Critch cast will take the stage this Saturday July 30th. For ticket information, visit hahaha.com Son of a Critch is broadcast both on CBC and on the CBC GEM streaming service. The next edition of the Montreal Comic Con will be held from the 14th to the 16th of July 2023

Dust off your best cosplay and bust out that autograph album because the Montreal Comic Con is back. This Friday through Sunday, the Palais de Congrès will play host to artists, actors and fandoms of all varieties in a celebration of all things geeky and game-related.

To help you figure out what to prioritize, Forget The Box has combed through the Guest List so you can make the most of your weekend. No thanks necessary. It’s just what we do.

The original Borg Queen herself, Alice Krige, will be headlining the convention – if not descending from the ceiling as a head – to reminisce about her various appearances in Star Trek, as well as her work in 2013’s Thor: The Dark World and 1992’s Stephen King classic Sleepwalkers.

Her costar in the upcoming indie film She Will, none other than Malcolm McDowell, will also be attending to reflect on his Trek experience – aka killing Captain Kirk in Generations – as well as his voice work on Superman: The Animated Series and, inevitably, 1971’s A Clockwork Orange. Look for his panel on Friday and Krige’s on Sunday.

Arrow and Teen Wolf star Colton Haynes will take the stage on Saturday to field questions about his time working on both larger-than-life shows, with X-Files and Terminator 2 star Robert Patrick speaking to the crowds on Sunday, possibly about his uncanny ability to terrify us without so much as uttering a single word.

Of course, one of the biggest thrills of any comic convention is seeing all our local talent gathered in one place. In that respect, this year’s show will not disappoint. A-List artist Yanick Paquette – of DC’s Wonder Woman and Swamp Thing comics – will be in attendance, probably with plenty of gorgeous art in tow. Comic artist-turned publisher Andy Belanger will also be present, hopefully demonstrating some of the sick moves that have helped make him a regular in the wrestling scene.

Concordia animation graduate and cartoonist extraordinaire, BOOM, will return with her autobiographical Boomeries graphic novels in tow and maybe even a tease of her upcoming book, La méduse, due out this fall. And Montreal institution Terry Mosher, aka AISLIN, will also be present to speak on his decades of political cartooning for The Montreal Gazette. Who better to provide a lighthearted perspective in these dark political times?

Add a host of vendors selling all the merch you could possibly want to add to your secret display case – don’t pretend you don’t have one! – and a Masquerade Ball where fans with sewing skills get to strut their stuff, and a good time is pretty much guaranteed. Plus, unlike the Jazz Fest, it can’t get rained out, which is definitely a perk.

Tickets to the convention are still available over at the show’s official website , where additional updates will be provided in the days ahead.

We may be in the midst of POP Montreal, but that’s not all that’s happening in our fair city culturally this weekend and week. So, with that in mind, please allow us to take a little break from our POP coverage and present some other options:

The 17th Montreal International Black Film Festival is Up and Running

The 2021 edition of the Montreal International Black Film Festival, Canada’s largest Black Film Festival, started yesterday and runs until October 3rd. This year, the 17th consecutive event, will be a hybrid festival, with a promise to “inspire through bold programming – online and in person.”

The festival will feature films from over 30 countries and include a nod to the Francophonie, the work of local filmmakers and films featuring well-known international figures such as Colin Kaepernick, Quincy Jones and more. The Black Market will return as an online event featuring intimate discussions with some film luminaries as well as industry panels. The free and in-person MIBFF in the Neighborhoods also returns in both Montréal-Nord and Côtes-de-Neiges.

MIBFF21 runs September 22 – October 3. For the complete schedule and tickets, please visit MontrealBlackFilm.com

The Lef7overs Return!

No that’s not a typo. Montreal-based The Lef7overs are most definitely inspired the 90s Riot Grrrl movement and bands like L7 in particular.

We’ve mentioned them here a few times as they used to play around town quite a bit, before all the venues shut down, that is. Now they’re back tomorrow performing as part of Vernissage LIPSTICK RIOT at Gallerie DBC in the Village and it’s a free show.

Give them a listen:

The Lef7overs perform as part of Vernissage LIPSTICK RIOT at Gallerie DBC, 1387 Ste-Catherine Est, Friday, September 24, doors open at 5pm

Montreal’s Shira Choir Featured in New Documentary Just As I Am

By the time you read this, it will already be too late to attend the World Premier of the new documentary Just As I Am, but there is still plenty of time to catch it on CBC Gem and CBC TV.

Filmmaker Evan Beloff and producer Marvin Rosenblatt chronicle the lives of several members of Montreal’s Shira Choir, an all special needs choir as they live and perform through a global pandemic.

Just As I Am streams on CBC Gem starting Friday, September 24th and airs on CBC TV Saturday, September 25th at 7pm

If you know of an event that you feel should be covered, please contact arts@forgetthebox.net or music@forgetthebox.net

No promises but we’ll do our best

It’s mid-September and POP Montreal is almost upon us. Next week, much of our coverage will be of that festival, so now let’s look at a few events taking place in the days before:

Candyass Returns to Café Cléopatra

Back in the before times (aka the years leading up to and including 2019), you could count on the Candyass Cabaret to rock, sometimes shock and always entertain the second floor performance space of Café Cléopatra on the third Friday of any particular month.

Now, after a long but unavoidable break (save for the odd virtual show), they’re back. Well, it’s not the full cabaret, instead it’s called the Candyass Cocktail, and it’s tonight, the third Friday of this particular month.

According to the Facebook Event Page: “It still may be the pandemic but the performers miss the audience so come and enjoy a little soiree of performances and seeing the artists”. Those artists include MC Jimmy Phule, Classy Clare, Diane Labelle Baladi, Salty Margarita, Martin le strecheur and more!

Candyass Cocktail is Friday, September 17th at 8:30pm at Café Cléopatra, 1230 Boul St-Laurent, 2nd Floor. Tickets are Suggested Donation $10

Tony Rust and the Mudhorses Album Launch

Montreal-based Tony Rust and the Mudhorses is a relatively new rock project from Rouen-Noranda-born Anthony Monderie Larouche (aka Tony Rust). They have been touring around Quebec and will be launching their debut album not once, but twice (due to COVID capacity restrictions) this coming Saturday in Montreal.

Their sound is largely influenced by the rock of the 60s and 70s. Give them a listen before heading out:

Tony Rust and the Mudhorses launch their debut album at L’Esco, 4461 Saint-Denis, Saturday, September 18 at 7pm and 9pm. Tickets available through Le Point de Vente

Haiti Betrayed and Invasion

This Saturday, the long-running Cinema Politica series of documentary film screenings presents two films: Haiti Betrayed (presented in the original French version with English subtitles) and Invasion. The first chronicles Canadian and US imperial intervention in Haiti both before the 2010 earthquake and following it. The second tells the story of the Unist’ot’en Camp standing up to the Canadian Government and corporations.

Haiti Traihi and Invasion screen at La perle retrouvée, 7655, 20e avenue, 6pm, FREE with a fundraiser on site for earthquake victims

If you know of an event that you feel should be covered, please contact arts@forgetthebox.net or music@forgetthebox.net

No promises but we’ll do our best

Host Jason C. McLean is joined by Stephanie Laughlin and Jerry Gabriel of the Professors of Pop Podcast to talk about this year’s Academy Awards: predictions for the major categories, what the event might be like and controversies or lack thereof.

Follow Professors of Pop on Instagram @41productionsfilms

Follow Jason C. McLean on Twitter @jasoncmclean

This week, we may not have the nice temperatures we enjoyed last weekend, but we do have a virtual transdisciplinary exhibition, a live virtual concert and a movie about the making of the 2009 POP Montreal music festival.

Let’s get started:

Van Grimde Corps Secrets’ Virtual Exhibition Embodiment 2

Dance company Van Grimde Corps Secrets has been all about collaborating with other artists from different milieus since the early 2000s. Their latest project, a virtual exhibition called Embodiment 2, is no different.

In 2015, the group founded by Isabelle Van Grimde began sharing its research into the EVE 2050 triptych with other artists to foster collaboration and discussion. The result was the EVE 2050 web series.

Now, they have combined that series with Brad Necyk and Gary James Joynes’ film The Birth of the World to create this virtual exhibition.

Embodiment 2 is available as a virtual exhibition from April 8-May 8 on the Van Grimde Corps Secrets website

Sean Kosa Plays Ctrllab’s Esc Series

Ctrllab is an art gallery and performance space, though during the pandemic, the venue on St-Laurent has been functioning mainly as a media production company. This Saturday, they welcome back one of their favourite in-person guests for a virtual performance.

Electro Minimal Tech artist Sean Kosa has been part of the music scene since he was 14 in Toronto. Over the years, he moved to Montreal, then to Asia and now back home to our city where he has performed in various venues all across town.

Here’s some of Kosa’s music:

Ctrllab Esc Series 008 with Sean Kosa streams Saturday, April 17 at 7pm on Twitch, Facebook Live (on the Ctrllab page), Mixcloud and YouTube 360. This is a FREE performance

The POP Movie Now Streaming

In 2009, Andi Slate had just completed a feature film and decided to go back to basics. The filmmaker shot over 55 hours worth of footage of her POP Montreal colleagues putting on the festival as well as shows during said fest.

11 years and at least two projects later, Slate returned to that footage and put together The POP Movie, which first screened at the 2020 Edition of POP Montreal. Now, it’s available for all to stream!

The POP Movie by Andi State is now streaming for FREE on YouTube

If you know of an event that you feel should be covered, please contact arts@forgetthebox.net or music@forgetthebox.net

No promises but we’ll do our best

Okay, sure, it snowed on Thursday. Maybe that was Mother Nature’s way of playing an April Fools joke on us.

In general, though, things are getting much nicer outside, but for the time being, most of us are stuck indoors after 9:30pm. Fortunately, there are tons of local arts and music you can enjoy from home.

This week. we’ve got a festival, a movie and a virtual concert from a local venue. Let’s get started:

Shigawake Festival Presents Full Concerts Throughout April

The Shigawake Music Festival has been celebrating Quebec-based musicians since its inception in 2009. There wasn’t an in-person event in 2020 for obvious reasons, but organizers decided to hold its 12th edition anyways, albeit a bit differently.

They filmed The Barr Brothers, Martha Wainwright, SoCalled and a slew of other acts performing in the festival’s namesake town of Shigawake (in the Gaspe Region, population 338) last summer, with a plan to let the general public virtually attend this spring. In March, they streamed the event as three full days of festival performance highlights and now, in April, will be presenting full concerts throughout the month.

It kicks off tonight (April 3rd) at 8pm with Martin Henry.

The 12th Shigawake Music Festival presents Full Sessions for FREE from April 3-30 2021 at ShigawakeMusicFestival.com

Aisling Chin-Yee and Chase Joynt’s No Ordinary Man

Billy Tipton was a transmasculine jazz musician whose career ran from the mid 1930s to the late 1970s. He was long portrayed as an ambitious woman posing as a man to have a better music career, but now Montreal director Aisling Chin-Yee along with Chase Joynt hope to give some justice to Billy’s legacy and question the representation and treatment of transgender individuals in media and society.

Along with with his son, Billy Tipton, Jr. and several members of the trans community, the filmmakers have put together a documentary called No Ordinary Man to celebrate Billy’s life and career. It was released this week, to coincide with the Transgender Day of Visibility (which was March 31st).

Here’s the trailer:

No Ordinary Man opened in select theatres on April 2nd, 2021 and is available to rent and view online

Urban Science Brass Band Close Out Les dimanches couvre-fun

For the past few weeks, Indie Montreal has been offering us a weekly dose of virtual local shows, complete with streaming from a local venue. Tomorrow is final edition of Les dimanches couvre-fun (for now), and they’re going out in a big way, a big band way, with the Urban Science Brass Band performing at Café Campus.

Of course, this group, that sometimes comprises as many as 40 performers (musicians and dancers), is best known for reinventing hip hop classics and performing on the street, flashmob-style, to the huge crowds out during Montreal’s festival season. This year, our fingers are still crossed for a festival season, or at least part of one and the crowds at night aren’t there because, for the moment, they can’t be.

At least we get to bring some of that spirit back this Sunday with the the Urban Science Brass Band. Here’s them doing some of what they do best:

Urban Science Brass Band perform virtually at Café Campus as part of Les dimanches couvre-fun on Sunday, April 4, 8pm. Tickets available through ThePointOfSale.com

If you know of an event that you feel should be covered, please contact arts@forgetthebox.net or music@forgetthebox.net

No promises but we’ll do our best

The weather outside is spring-like, but we’re still under a curfew. Fret not as there is plenty of great arts and music to enjoy from home.

This week, it’s all music, though one entry is a film. Let’s get started:

Eve Egoyan in Duet for Solo Piano

When you see the name Egoyan and the word film appear in the same sentence (as they did in this post’s title), it’s only logical to assume that celebrated stage and screen director Atom Egoyan has a new flick. In this case, though, you’d be wrong, we’re talking about his sister Eve.

Eve Egoyan isn’t a filmmaker, rather she is recognized as one of the 25 greatest Canadian classical pianists of all time. And she is the subject of the documentary Duet for Solo Piano directed by Su Rynard currently playing (online, of course) as part of the 39th edition of the International Festival of Films on Art.

The film delves into the events that have shaped Eve and left a mark on who she is today. It sets out to offer “rare insight into the creative process and the complexity of developing new work that pushes the boundaries of art, instrument and self.”

Here is the trailer:

Duet for Solo Piano is available across Canada for online viewing until Sunday, March 28 as part of the 39th Edition of the International Festival of Films on Art. Get your tickets through LeFIFA.com

Titelaine Perform at Le Ministère Virtually

Indie Montreal’s Sunday virtual concert series from real venues, Les dimanches couvre-fun, continues. So far the likes of Elephant Stone, Millimetrik and The Liquor Store have performed at different venues around town and now, this week, Titelaine will perform at Le Ministère.

This Montreal duo offers nostalgic downtempo songs that you can dance to. Their scenography was specifically designed for this show and this venue.

While you wait, here is some of their music:

Titelaine perform at Le Ministère as part of Les dimanches couvre-fun, Sunday, March 28th, 8pm. Tickets available through LePointDeVente.com

Gayance Launches Fruta Gogoia

Montreal/Hatian DJ Gayance has spent the past few years opening for acts like Princess Nokia and Kaytranada, playing events such as POP Montreal and Osheaga and directing documentaries on the Piu Piu movement and the Montreal beat scene. She also had a winter arts residency in Salvador, Bahia (Brazil) for the past seven years.

She will be releasing her first EP Not Toning Down For Sh*T in the fall and the first track is a Bahia folk song called Fruta Gogoia. For Gayance, “it’s a mantra that calls women, especially Black women & queers, to take all the space they need to take without compromise.”

Fruta Gogoia will be available March 26th. You can pre-save or pre-add the track or check back tomorrow when we’ll update this post with it. In the meantime, enjoy some of Gayance’s DJ work:

If you know of an event that you feel should be covered, please contact arts@forgetthebox.net or music@forgetthebox.net

No promises but we’ll do our best

How’s your March Break going? Still inside at night (by law) and trying to get out in the day? Working an essential job? Looking for some music and arts to get you through the early March snow and cold?

This week, we’ve got an album launch, a film screening and live virtual shows that should feel more like actual shows.

Let’s get started:

Les dimanches couvre-fun Kicks Off with Millimetrik

Indie Montreal is waiting to get back to doing what it is known for: promoting local shows in venues. While that is not currently possible, they have come up with the next-best thing to do as we wait for things to get back to somewhat normal: promoting local shows in venues – virtually.

They have launched Les dimanches couvre-fun (for those who don’t speak it, couvre-feu is curfew in French), a weekly series of virtual concerts streamed from venues around the city. We’re scheduled to see performances from Cabaret Lion d’Or, Ausgang Plaza, Le Ministère and Café Campus/Petit Campus over the next few weeks.

The series kicks off this Sunday at 8pm with Millimetrik performing at Piedestal’s virtual amphitheatre. Future shows will feature The Liquor Store, Elephant Stone, Titelaine and the Urban Science Brass Band.

In the meantime, please enjoy the dreamlike groove of this Sunday’s headliner and prodigal son of Quebec City Pascal Asselin, aka Millimetrik:

For info and tickets, please visit lepointdevente.com

Institut Launch L’effet waouh des zones côtières

Okay sure, Institut isn’t a Montreal band, they’re from France. But we are including acts that have a connection to here and this one sure has its Quebec roots.

They have worked with director and cinematographer Michel La Veaux on the score for the feature film Labrecque, une caméra pour la mémoire while Denis Côté produced the music video for ici aussi off their second album.

Now, they are releasing a new album, L’effet waouh des zones côtières, which offers “a clever mix of afrobeat and new wave to which ingenious mixes are added each time. The songs themselves cover today’s realities candidly and with ample irony – reinvented romances, pleasures at a distance and home delivery.”

L’effet waouh des zones côtières launches today (March 5th) and will be available through institut-bonjour.com For now, enjoy the video for ici aussi:

Vision Nocturna (Night Shot) @ Cinema Politica

Cinema Politica is known for screening politically-charged films at places like Concordia’s Hall Building (but also at other locations around the country and the world) followed by discussion with the people behind the films and their subjects.

During the pandemic, they have opted to do the same, only virtually. This month’s offering is Vision Nocturna (Night Shot) from Carolina Moscoso.

It’s an “experimental film composed out of fragments shot over years as the Chilean director reckons with the trauma of her rape. Artistic cinematography and sound composition create a visceral experience as the emotional artifacts of Moscoso’s story collide with the systemic burden of a justice system that has ultimately failed to prosecute the perpetrator.”

On Sunday, journalist and author Dawn Marie Paley will moderate a discussion with Moscoso joined by Mexico City-based artists Amanda Ruiz and Cerrucha.

You can stream the film as of March 4th at 7pm until Monday, March 8th at 7pm and the livestream the webinar Sunday, March 7th, at 7pm and visit CinemaPolitica.org for more

Featured image from Vision Nocturna (Night Shot)

If you know of an event that you feel should be covered, please contact arts@forgetthebox.net or music@forgetthebox.net

No promises but we’ll do our best

Jason C. McLean speaks with comedian Preach, the host of this year’s Gala Dynastie, a celebration of Black excellence from across Quebec. They talk about comedy during COVID, this Saturday’s online edition and this year’s theme: The Rise of the Engaged.

The 5th Edition of Gala Dynastie streams live this Satruday, March 6th, at 6pm. For tickets and for more info: GalaDynastie.com

Follow Aba & Preach on YouTube and Facebook

Follow Jason C. McLean on Twitter @jasoncmclean

This week we’ve got a film and arts festival dedicated to LGBTQ+ works that highlight members of Black communities, a music video premier from a local alternative folk rock group and a Valentine’s market from the people behind POP Montreal.

Let’s get started:

The Massimadi Afro LGBTQ+ Film and Arts Festival

We’re in the middle of Black History Month and the Massimadi Afro LGBTQ+ Film and Arts Festival is set to return for its 13th edition. This year, the theme is, appropriately, Resistance.

With all that is going on south of the border and around the world, resisting is key. The festival also plans to resist any negative effects COVID might have on their ability to reach audiences by making the entire event free and online.

With seven feature films 23 short films and representation from nine countries, the conversation is sure to continue. There will also be found tables, a comedy show and even speed dating.

The 13th Edition of the Massimadi Afro LGBTQ+ Film and Arts Festival runs February 12 – March 12. For the complete schedule and more info, please visit massimadi.ca

Aquarius Dreams Release Music Video for Flora’s Earthtones

Montreal-based alternative folk rock group Aquarius Dreams released their lastest EP Flora’s Earthtones way back in pre-COVID 2019. While they are planning to go on a “reformative hiatus” and then re-emerge when the pandemic is done, they are first releasing a video for the EP’s titular track this weekend.

Directed by Callum Sheedy, the video “alludes to the degradation of the relationship between humanity and nature, the dance between moral volition and action.” Part of it is also clearly shot on Mount Royal, which always leads to some spectacular visuals.

Puces POP is Back Online for Valentine’s Day

The annual POP Montreal music festival is all set for an in-person edition this fall, but while the curfew and other COVID restrictions are still in effect, their popular Puces POP market has reinvented itself, just in time for Valentine’s Day. They have an online catalogue available until March 1st.

You can buy products from over 70 local artisans. We’re talking body products, clothing, jewelry and much more.

You can find it all at PucesPop.com

Featured Image: Screenshot from Flora’s Earthtones by Aquarius Dreams

If you know of an event that you feel should be covered, please contact arts@forgetthebox.net or music@forgetthebox.net

No promises but we’ll do our best

While our Shows This Week column, both for music and arts, is clearly on hiatus until we can, you know, go to shows again, we thought we’d highlight some of the Montreal and Montreal-friendly music, art, theatre, comedy, film etc. that you can partake in.

Let’s get started…

The image + nation Launches Canada’s First-Ever Queer Short Film Festival

image + nation, Canada’s first LGBTQ+ film festival just concluded its 33rd edition, albeit in a totally online form. While you can still see the films that won awards at the festival until December 12th, image+nation has something else to offer.

From December 9th until the 31st they are running the first-ever pan-Canadian Queer Short Film Festival. This new event is focusing on a few key areas including growing up and growing older as an LGBTQ person, films from countries and perspectives that see little representation in the queer cinema canon and outreach to Francophone communities outside of Quebec.

I+N Courts Queer Short Film Fest runs December 9-31. The full program is available in an online catalogue and you can watch the short films until the end of 2020

Wooden Drone’s Never Ending Loops

Montrealer Emmanuel Lauzon, aka electronic music producer Wooden Drone released his debut album this past November 14th. Titled Never Ending Loops, it is a 14-tracks of electronic ambient music meticulously produced over a decade.

That’s right, this is the product of ten years’ worth of work. During that time, Lauzon was also developing the video game We Happy Few as a senior 3D artist. Both projects were released simultaneously.

Wooden Drone will be releasing a single in the new year, but for now (in addition to the full album) we have this teaser video:

Never Ending Loops by Wooden Drone is available for download on Bandcamp

Igloofest Will Return and Has An Online Shop for a Good Cause

Igloofest, the annual outdoor-in-winter music fest has the distinction of being literally the coolest festival in Montreal, but also, due to its timing, one of the few big annual events that actually got to hold an in-person 2020 edition.

This year, with a COVID vaccine’s potential widespread distribution still months away, there won’t be an in-person Igloofest this winter. Organizers are working on a digital version in its place and promise surprises and video capsules starting in January and leading up to the 15th edition scheduled for 2022.

Right now, though, you can buy festival merch. Their online shop, the Iglooboutique, launched this past Thursday, offers items like the classic toque sold at the event each year, hockey jerseys and socks.

If you buy a pair of socks, another pair will be donated to people suffering from homelessness. This is due to Igloofest‘s partnership with Montreal-based Robin des Bas.

You can find updates on the online festival at igloofest.ca and shop at boutique.igloofest.ca

Featured Image from Mother Bunker (2020) playing at the I+N Queer Short Film Festival

If you’re involved in a project or know of one that you think should get coverage here, please let us know at arts@forgetthebox.net or music@forgetthebox.net We’ll do our best, but no promises

For the past decade and a half, the Montreal International Black Film Festival (MIBFF) has had a mission to foster diversity by showcasing Black stories from around the world. This year, in spite of everything that’s happening, and also because of it, MIBFF’s mission will continue.

Given the current reality of the Black Lives Matter movement as well as the fact that COVID is still raging around the world and disproportionately impacting communities of colour, a festival that gives a platform to Black artists that would otherwise be invisible more than makes sense — it’s essential.

Understandably, the format will be different this year. MIBFF’s 16th Annual Edition will be almost exclusively online.

Most film festivals operating for the first time without the in-person cinema experience have been forced to geo-block their content to a particular region or country. MBIFF’s lineup, though, will be available to stream all around the world.

Speaking of that lineup, this is Canada’s largest Black film festival and this year features 120 films. An All-Access Pass costs $49 and gives you access to all of them throughout the festival’s run.

Here are some of the highlights:

  • The Cuban: A film by Sergio Navarretta about a young woman who meets and unexpectedly becomes friends with an elderly Cuban musician while working her first job at a nursing home.
  • Black Market: This is a series of free panels focused on the industry side of cinema. Topics include: Racebending in Film and Television, Black Stories Matter, and Black Women Behind the Lens.
  • MBIFF in the Neighborhoods: When we said the festival will be almost exclusively online, this is the exception. It will take place at the Maison Culturelle et Communautaire de Montréal-Nord, and feature screenings of Mahalia Melts in the Rain and Briser le Code, followed by discussion.  
  • Black Boys: A documentary from Executive Producer, activist and two-time Super Bowl champion Malcolm Jenkins and writer/director Sonia Lowman celebrating the full humanity of Black men and boys in America and revealing the emotional landscape of racism in order to ask the viewer to re-imagine a different world.
  • Canadian Films: This year MIBFF is putting a spotlight on Canadian filmmakers.

The 16th Annual Montreal International Black Film Festival runs from September 23 to October 4. You can watch all 120 films whenever you want during the run of the festival by purchasing an All-Access Pass for $49 through MontrealBlackFilm.com where you can also see the full lineup.

In spite of indoor public gatherings of up to 250 people being allowed, Montreal’s annual Fantasia Film Festival has opted to go online this year due to COVID-19. The event is described as a “cutting-edge virtual festival, taking place August 20 to September 2, 2020.” Among the festival’s offerings this year is the film Anything for Jackson, a horror film whose subject matter is reminiscent of the 1970s films of the same genre. I had the privilege of speaking with star Konstantina Mantelos about her role, and the effect the pandemic has had on the film industry.

Anything for Jackson is about Mantelos’ character, Shannon Becker, who at eight months pregnant is kidnapped by a pair of elderly Satanists, played by Canadian actors Sheila McCarthy and Julian Richings. The two Satanists are hoping to bring back their dead grandson via a Satanic ritual involving Becker’s unborn child. When I pointed out the similarities of the plot to 1970s horror films, Mantelos enthusiastically agreed.

“When the director and writer first met with me they referenced Rosemary’s Baby meets Hereditary. They really pulled on a lot of older, classic horror film ideas and they modernized it. They’ve taken a new twist on horror films that are happening right now and used these themes as metaphors for real life things that we face. It sounds like a zany concept, but there’s a lot of love in the story, there’s a lot of themes of motherhood and caring for those you love, and that’s really what’s at the centre of the story.”

Konstantina Mantelos

I wondered if given this ongoing trend in horror, Mantelos felt the film’s subject matter was especially relevant given the current apocalyptic times, or whether Anything for Jackson was just a bit of fun. Mantelos laughed and said it was a bit of both.

“I think there’s an interesting factor in the story, an older couple trying to bring back their grandson with no regard for the fact that they are doing this to a young woman who has her future ahead of her and who has this child that she would love and be her own. There’s a sort of selfishness there, as well-meaning as these two are, as you’ll see in the film that they are quite endearing, at the end of the day there is a sort of slightly larger metaphor of older generation: what’s happened to the planet, what we as a younger generation are facing now. There’s a little bit of that. We discussed it when we were working on the film that we think is not a prominent theme in the film, but what I think can be gleaned from it.”

When I asked which of the countless horror sub-genres Anything for Jackson fell into, Mantelos said that despite the subject matter seeming quite campy, the movie sits more within the realm of reality.

“The stuff that we’re facing is quite out of this world, but the way it’s dealt with is in a quite down to earth, dark manner.”

Given the intensity of the part she plays in the movie, I was curious as to the challenges she faced working on the film. Mantelos laughed at this question, discussing the challenge of playing someone who is eight months pregnant when she herself has never been pregnant.

She did some research and reached out to friends who have been pregnant. Mantelos speaks affectionately about how helpful her co-star Sheila McCarthy was when speaking about her own pregnancy experience, and about the extreme emotional and physical changes involved. She described the heavy jelly-filled pregnancy vest she had to wear throughout most of the filming day, and the challenge of being chained to a bed for much of the film.

Given all the talk in the media about the decline in the arts due to the pandemic, I wanted to know how it had affected Mantelos’ work. She pointed out the obvious decline in auditions she was getting, as well as many productions shutting down.

“Funny story, we shot this film — it was a three-week shooting schedule. We literally wrapped on the day that all production got shut down. I essentially went from this very hectic, busy shooting schedule to coming back home to Toronto and essentially being stuck in my house!”

Sheila McCarthy and Julian Richings in Anything for Jackson

Though auditions have shut down, Mantelos has found a way to make the best of things. She has used the isolation to be productive on personal projects, including screenwriting and producing, which she’d never had time to sit down and give the attention they needed. She mentions that being stuck at home allowed her to complete the first draft of a script she was working on.

When I asked her what else she was getting up to during the pandemic, Mantelos mentioned doing a movie marathon, where she watched a film every day and posted about it on Instagram. Though she no longer watches one every day, she’s already reached 160 movies, mostly fiction. In addition to the movie marathon, she has also been baking, recently making a strawberry and cream bread from The Hobbit Cookbook.

Given how much adapting the arts have had to do since the pandemic started, I asked Mantelos if she thought the changes would be permanent. In response, she mentioned that Anything for Jackson is set to come out on Super Channel Fuse in October, which was planned in advance.

“They’re doing a really wonderful job, and part of it is nice because things like Fantasia are things I always wanted to participate in or have participated in and attended, but a lot of people don’t know that there are things that the public can buy tickets to and the average Joe can get tickets to a big movie premier, and it’s really amazing that it’s accessible. In that way it’s nice because now people are going to be able to access the premier all across Canada, and that’s something wouldn’t have happened if we were doing a traditional red carpet premier in the theatre.”

Anything for Jackson premieres tomorrow, September 1, 2020, as part of the 2020 Fantasia International Film Festival. Info and tickets available through FantasiaFestival.com