FIFA 2015: See Escape From Moominvalley for beautiful paintings by Tove Jansson

A still life by Tove Jansson, from the documentary film Escape From Moominville.
A still life by Tove Jansson, from the documentary film Escape From Moominville.

No need to be a Tove Jansson fan, or to know anything about her to enjoy Escape From Moomin Valley, it’s such a visual pleasure.

Tove Jansson (1914-2001) a member of Finland’s Swedish minority, achieved fame and presumably, fortune, through Moomins, creatures of her own invention who look vaguely like upright hippos. Moomins appeared in children’s books and a long-running comic strip; they are available as figurines, plush toys and printed on assorted bags, mugs, aprons, pencil cases, notebooks, etc. (Local publisher Drawn & Quarterly printed a large volume of her work in 2006.)

Artist and author Tove Jansson as a young adult, from the documentary film Escape From Moominville.
Artist and author Tove Jansson as a young adult, from the documentary film Escape From Moominville.

Jansson wrote short stories for adults and plays, as well, but she always considered herself a painter first and foremost. That’s what she wrote on her tax return, according to Escape From Moomin Valley.

Jansson came from an arty family; her father was a sculptor, her mother a graphic artist. She was expected to be an artist and a good one, too.

The film uses lots of photos, sketches, paintings and extracts read from Jansson’s letters and diaries to fill us in on her family life (she often argued with her father) her friends, her art classes and her travels. She studied in Stockholm and Paris, and visited Dresden, Brittany and Florence. Probably many other places, too. She was a forceful character and her art is wonderful to look at. Her studio is quite impressive, too. You might be jealous!

A still life by Tove Jansson, from the documentary film Escape From Moominville.
A still life by Tove Jansson, from the documentary film Escape From Moominville.

Jansson speaks briefly in the film and there are many remarks from her brothers, niece, and childhood friends.

Escape From Moominvalley is being shown as part of a double bill with the 55-minute film J.R.R. Tolkien: des mots, des mondes. A review of that is coming up! There’s a connection, too – while I don’t remember it in Escape From Moominvalley, Jansson illustrated a Swedish edition of The Hobbit.

Sunday, March 29, 2015, 1:30 pm, J.A. de Sève Theatre, McConnell Library Building, Concordia University, 1400 de Maisonneuve Blvd. W.

Escape From Moominvalley
Finland, Denmark, Sweden / 2014 / Color / 58 Min / Finnish S.T. English

A still life by Tove Jansson, from the documentary film Escape From Moominville.
A still life by Tove Jansson, from the documentary film Escape From Moominville.

Escape From Moominvalley
Realisation: Charlotte Airas
Script: Charlotte Airas, Kimmo Kohtamäki
Cinematography: Timo Peltonen
Sound: Pietari Koskinen
Editing: Kimmo Kohtamäki
Music: Pessi Levanto
Narration: Ylva Ekblad
Participation(s): Sophia Jansson, Per Olof Jansson, Boel Westin, Erik Kruskopf, Boris Konickoff, Tuula Karjalainen
Producer(s): Kaarle Aho
Production: Making Movies
Distribution: Making Movies
The Festival International du Film sur l’Art, known as FIFA, runs until Sunday, March 29, 2015. Visit the web site www.artfifa.com for more information

FIFA 2015: Looking at Gustave Courbet’s The Painter’s Studio as a puzzle and a history lesson

Caricature of painter Gustave Courbet from the documentary film Les Petits Secrets Des Grands Tableaux – Courbet, L’atelier Du Peintre
Caricature of painter Gustave Courbet from the documentary film Les Petits Secrets Des Grands Tableaux – Courbet, L’atelier Du Peintre

 

French painter Gustave Courbet (1819-1877) was admired by some and mocked by others. He was self taught, which earned him the scorn of academicians. He hobnobbed with the rich and powerful though he sided with workers and disadvantaged.

The 26 minute film takes a quick look at Courbet’s life and works before turning to his large and crowded work with the long name – The Painter’s Studio: A Real Allegory of a Seven Year Phase in my Artistic and Moral Life.

The Painter's Studio: A Real Allegory of a Seven Year Phase in my Artistic and Moral Life, by Gustave Courbet.
The Painter’s Studio: A Real Allegory of a Seven Year Phase in my Artistic and Moral Life, by Gustave Courbet.

Courbet created it for a salon at the 1855 Paris World Fair (or Exposition Universelle des produits de l’Agriculture, de l’Industrie et des Beaux-Arts de Paris 1855 to give its full name). The jury refused to accept this painting, though eleven of his other works were shown. (These days, the painting hangs in the Musée d’Orsay.)

In examining the many possible reasons for this refusal, the filmmakers tell us about the many styles that appear in the painting – portraits, still life, history painting – and the people in it, who include George Sand, Charles Baudelaire, Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, and the Emperor Napoleon III himself. He had been elected president of France but later staged a coup d’etat and declared himself emperor. In the painting he is portrayed as a hunter wearing tall leather boots. Censorship was so strong at this time that the mere mention of “boots” could result in a prison sentence.

This film is filled with a wealth of detail and historical information.

Les Petits Secrets Des Grands Tableaux – Courbet, L’atelier Du Peintre will be shown as part of a double bill with Beatus: The Spanish Apocalypse, which is 90 minutes long, on Friday, March 27, 2015 at 1:30 p.m. at the Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal – Maxwell-Cummings Auditorium, 1379 Sherbrooke St. W.

Les Petits Secrets Des Grands Tableaux – Courbet, L’atelier Du Peintre
France / 2014 / Color / 26 Min / French
Realisation: Clément Cogitore
Script: Thomas Cheysson, Elisabeth Couturier
Editing: Erwann Chabot, Julien Ngo Trong
Music: Roque Rivas
Narration: Clémentine Célarié
Producer(s): Sophie Goupil, Daniel Khamdamov
Production: Les Poissons Volants, ARTE France, Les petits secrets des grands tableaux
Distribution: ARTE France

The Festival International du Film sur l’Art, known as FIFA, runs until Sunday, March 29, 2015. Visit the web site www.artfifa.com for more information.