Surface Tensions: Pierre Hébert at SAW Video

SAW Video presents the work of Pierre Hébert, including Triptych-2 (pictured).
Fans of alternative cinema should reserve February 15th and 16th on their calendars. Coming to Ottawa’s SAW Video those days is Surface Tensions, a programme of films and videos by acclaimed Canadian filmmaker Pierre Hébert. The Montréal-born Hébert is being fêted by SAW in a retrospective of some of his canonical works, as well as some of his latest films. Included among the programme is Triptych-2, which was recently honoured with a nomination for Best Animated Film at Quebec’s Jutra Awards. Also among the diverse line-up are films made during Hébert’s tenure at the National Film Board of Canada (NFB) and films produced independently. A contemporary of Canadian filmmaker Norman McLaren, Hébert’s films display an innovative experimentation with form and animation. Moving from formal abstraction to grander, more evocative works, SAW’s Surface Tensions offers a wide range of pieces by one of Canada’s most influential film artists.

Surface Tensions highlights a variety of Hébert’s approaches to the freedom and malleability of film form. Included in the programme is my personal favourite of Hébert’s films, Songs and Dances of the Inanimate World: The Subway. A mix of live-action and animation that is set to a rousing, hypnotic score by Robert Lepage and René Lussier, The Subway underscores how Hébert’s avant-garde manner with film form brings the inanimate to life. The film has the sense of watching a live performance. The surreal images of the subway—the drawn pictures look more alive than the still ones—demonstrate the various themes and commentaries that Hébert’s films observe on contemporary life, such as alienation and the uncanniness of contemporary living.

The programme also emphasizes Hébert’s fusion of film and live performance. The second day of Surface Tensions offers a live enactment of Hébert’s performance piece Tropismes, which SAW describes as a film that “explores the gray area between abstraction and representation, looking at how the human impulse to anthropomorphize the inanimate can transform an assembly of lines, colours and shapes into a ‘face.’” This exploration of abstraction takes form and interactivity to a new level, as Hébert’s animation will be performed with live music by contemporary clarinetist Lori Freedman. Hébert will also be on hand to present his work Friday.

Surface Tensions: The Films & Videos of Pierre Hébert

Friday, February 15th 2013
Screening: 8pm sharp (doors: 7:30pm)
Presented by SAW Video Media Art Centre
(Seating is limited; groups looking to sit together should come as early as possible)
$5 dollars, advance tickets available at SAW Video and The Manx Pub

Screening list:
-Histoire verte / Story in Green (1962, 16mm, 3 min.)
-Opus 1 (1964, 16mm, 4 min.)
-Notions élémentaires de génétques / Elementary Notions of Genetics (1971, 35mm, 7 min.)
-Songs and Dances of the Inanimate World: The Subway (1984, 35mm, 14 min.)
-Adieu bipède (1987, 35mm, 16 min.)
-The Statue of Giordano Bruno (co-directed with Bob Ostertag, 2005, SD video, 12 min.)
-Herqueville (2007, HD video, 22 min.)
-Thunder River (2011, HD video, 8 min.)
-Triptych-2 (2012, HD video, 10 min.)

For more details and film synopses, please visit:

Tropismes: A Live Performance by Pierre Hébert & Lori Freedman

Saturday, February 16th 2013, 7:30pm
Produced in partnership with Winterlude, the Downtown Rideau BIA, the OIAF (Ottawa International Animation Festival) and IMOO (Improvising Musicians of Ottawa/Outaouais).

For more details on Saturday’s event, please visit: