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Filmmaker Philip Szporer’s Quarantaine is a FIFA highlight

Film screens March 23 and 24; Festival of Films on Art runs until March 28

Philip Szporer

Director and dance critic Philip Szporer’s Quarantaine deals with themes he suggests are not often discussed in dance films: aging and masculine identity.

Playing at the International Festival of Films on Art (FIFA) on March 23 and 24, Quarantaine (English translation: The 40s) is dance film interspersed with four men’s musings on aging, and it features animated sequences created in collaboration with artist Pol Turgeon.

Szporer says audience members should expect a non-linear, non-traditional storytelling method. “Well, it’s not narrative film right?” he jokes. “But I’m not interested in working in narrative film anyway, just because the other material is so rich, and there is so much to plunder.”

The film’s inspiration comes from a stage production, Charmaine Leblanc’s La Quarantaine 4 x 4. The filmmakers thought the material in that performance was quite rich and decided a film treatment was feasible.

Co-directed by Marlene Millar, the film moves from humorous segments to more intimate, revealing moments as the men dance.

“The desire was to show four men in their 40s, questioning what was happening in their lives in their 40s,” he says. “Perspectives are sometimes revealing; one senses a camaraderie between them. They were very, very open to all the questions, in terms of their relationships with their fathers, relationships, sex.”

Millar and Szporer have been making films together for about 10 years, founding Mouvement Perpétuel, a Montreal-based production company where a large portion of the work focuses on dance film.

Not all the men in the film are gay, and Szporer hastens to say Quarantaine is not purely about a gay aesthetic.

“You really do get a perspective on the body; we like to get close to the camera. We like to see skin and bone and all the physicality and physiognomy, and that’s a big part of what this film is. This is perhaps not images we have seen before. It’s a different kind of physicality; it’s a maturity; it’s people that are comfortable in their skin. They are still probing into notions of their identity. There’s a different set of sensibilities that comes through when you’re in your 40s. Is it a gay sensibility? Perhaps — but it’s also a human sensibility.”

FIFA runs until Sun, March 28. Quarantaine plays Tues, March 23 at 9 pm at Place des Arts – Cinquième Salle and Wed, March 24 at 6:30 pm at the NFB. Full schedule of films and ticket info at artfifa.com.