Volume 21, Issue 2 / February 2017

Lights, Action, Montreal

As I write this we are experiencing some of the usual extreme weather we get in Montreal. In a span of two days, we were hit with lots of snow, followed by freezing rain, followed by above freezing temperatures, then back to freezing temperatures so all that water and slush turns back to treacherous, back wrenching, elbow crushing icy sidewalks and roads. Just another winter spell in Montreal, but living here is offset, for cinephiles at least, by the wonderful range of film viewing opportunities we have in Montreal. This month’s issue is a little celebration in gratitude of the film viewing on offer in Montreal. It may not be Paris or New York, but we get to see a nice range of films on the big screen in Montreal. And, as important, Montreal is still a place where purists can see film prints on a regular basis. We have a group called Montreal Film Club that screens prints like a ‘book club’, a new enterprise run by the affable Adam Abouaccar and Michael Martini that shows film prints exclusively at Bar Ritz, and a local repertory theatre, Cinema du parc that still runs 35mm sometimes (they just announced they are screening a 35mm print of the irresistible Love Witch in April). And then there is the king of film print screenings, Phil Spurrell and The Film Society, which has been exclusively screening 16mm and 35mm to Montrealers for close to 25 years. Four of the articles this month feature two such occasions, the Crispin Glover road show, and two screenings (Ben Hur, Wild at Heart) organized by The Film Society, owned and operated by filmmaker/impressario Phil Spurrell. The screening of Wild at Heart was on St. Valentine’s Day last year, and through serendipity, this issue gets posted one year later (ok the day after St. Valentine’s). As Randolph Jordan duly noted to me, Wild at Heart is the glue that binds this issue, as it was part of The Film Society, stars Crispin Glover and was directed by David Lynch, who is the director of the film featured in the final article, Blue Velvet. Another connection to the fifth piece is that the author, David George Menard, was living in Montreal at the time he wrote the essay. David George Menard returns to Offscreen after a long absence where much has changed in his life, including moving from Montreal, where he lived, studied, made films, and wrote for Offscreen, to Los Angeles, where he plans a new chapter in his life. I welcome David back into the fold as a unique and singular writer. David’s thoughts on cinema are rare in film studies/criticism, drawing from many far-out fields: science, physics, art, literature, painting, drama, psychology, the occult. I sometimes think of David as a scientist with the sensitivity of an artist; and at other times, an artist with the rigor of a scientist. David has dusted off and passed my way many ‘older’ essays that will be featured in Offscreen over the coming months, (?) years. On a sad note, as I planned this all-Montreal issue I learned of the death by automobile highway accident of 42 year old Sylvain Duguay (one wonders if the ‘extreme weather’ had anything to do with his accident?). Sylvain worked in the Cinema Office at Concordia University for many years while he was working on his PhD (which he completed in 2008) and always made my trips to the office pleasurable. Your proverbial “tall, dark and handsome,” Sylvain always greeted you with a smile, and was professional to the core. We all missed him when he left his post in the Cinema Office. Now he will be missed by all the people who knew him well and loved him. I dedicate this issue to Sylvain. R.I.P. (Donato Totaro, ed.)

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