An­drea Pi­card

National Post (Latest Edition) - - SATURDAY FEATURE - Week­end Post

An­drea Pi­card has the most ju­di­cious eye in the in­dus­try. The pro­gramme she cu­rates at TIFF, Wave­lengths, has been world-renowned for its un­flag­ging dis­crim­i­na­tion – for the taste it makes man­i­fest in its wildly au­da­cious selections. Artists con­sider an in­vi­ta­tion to screen at Wave­lengths a tes­ta­ment to the qual­ity of their work, be­cause Pi­card’s seal of ap­proval is proof enough that any given movie must be good.

That re­spon­si­bil­ity Pi­card does not take lightly. In­deed, year-round she works un­com­monly hard even for a pro­gram­mer, seek­ing out mov­ing-im­age art wher­ever it may be found. She trav­els to film fes­ti­vals across the world

hop­ing to dis­cover some­thing new. She vis­its art bi­en­ni­als and the pri­vate stu­dios of as­pir­ing artists, by­pass­ing the stu­dio sys­tem en­tirely. And she watches many, many films: the open call for Wave­lengths sub­mis­sions brings in shorts and fea­tures by the thou­sand, and Pi­card scours them all to pluck out what’s wor­thy. “It’s my job to view and eval­u­ate all the work,” she ex­plains. “But it’s also my job to find a re­ally thought­ful way of cu­rat­ing the work for the pro­gramme — a way that makes sense as a whole and still let’s the work breathe.”

Wave­lengths can some­times seem an aber­ra­tion in the con­text of TIFF: it’s the rig­or­ously artis­tic part of a rather more main­stream whole. But Pi­card speaks fondly of that con­trast. “It shows TIFF has this di­ver­sity,” she says. “We have galas and celebri­ties – and then we have Bruno Du­mont and Nathaniel Dorsky.” Such film­mak­ers may avail them­selves of a plat­form con­sid­er­ably larger than they’d prob­a­bly en­joy at fes­ti­vals con­cen­trated on ex­per­i­men­tal cin­ema exclusively; the red car­pets rolled out for the ga­lac­tic mega-stars are the same ones walked by the ob­scure au­teurs. “We in­vite so many peo­ple from around the world and then we put these films on the same plat­form, in the same cin­e­mas.”

The ef­fect, Pi­card says, is rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the medium: it’s pre­cisely be­cause the avant-garde cu­rios at Wave­lengths and the starstud­ded gala pre­mieres else­where are so un­alike that the fes­ti­val re­mains so rich and in­trigu­ing. The va­ri­ety on dis­play says a lot about the di­ver­sity of mo­tion pic­tures. “TIFF rep­re­sents the range of cin­ema,” she says. “Cin­ema ranges from en­ter­tain­ment to a pure art form — and so does the fes­ti­val. It’s not just celebrity-driven, but artist­driven too.”

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