Montreal’s Magical Hidden Sweet Spots Shine In ‘Appliqués for sun’

We talked to filmmakers Mélissa Matos and Emmanuel Mauries-Rinfret about their hometown.

Jun 29 2016, 3:14pm

Still via Appliques for sun.

For several years, Montreal natives Melissa Matos and Emmanuel Mauries-Rinfret have enjoyed a fruitful and diverse collaboration. Both played crucial roles in the music videos of electronic musician Jacques Greene and they currently put much of their energy into TRUSST studio, an undertaking co-founded by Matos. In spite of the filmmakers' long-running partnership, Appliqués for sun is one of their first completed collaborations as directors. Through the nostalgic use of 16mm film and the unconventional compositions brought about by split-screen editing, Matos and Mauries-Rinfret convey the fleeting wonders of a summer afternoon in their hometown. Thanks to the diversity of their artistic backgrounds (Matos has created installations and photography; Mauries-Rinfret has worked in video art and graphic arts), they have managed to give intriguing artistic shape to their most elusive Montreal memories.

What do you think this film says about Montreal?
Melissa Matos: It's really about the small details. The little things that make the city so special. What we really wanted to capture was that endless summer day. It's mostly the mood of a summer day in Montreal toward the end of the summer—like the Indian summer—this kind of like blissed-out feeling.

Emmanuel Mauries-Rinfret: We have no other choice but to just hang out outside—partly because the winter's so long here. I think that's what makes it special here. Everybody is on the same page. When it's nice outside, you just go and you hang out.

You shoot in some unfamiliar Montreal locations. How did you choose those spots?
Mauries-Rinfret: We were both born here and grew up here and it was our chance to show the different parts of the city that we know about, but most people don't. It's also about showing landmarks from a different perspective and celebrating the public art that we have. A lot of parks here have pieces of art and most of them are super nice. It was cool to be able to show them.

This film has a very unique split-screen aesthetic. Where did that come from?
Mauries-Rinfret: It's a tool we use to create more complex compositions, play with colours, play with textures. Duality is always a theme that comes back when you talk about Montreal, so it was an effective tool for us to use.

Matos: The English, the French. The extreme winter, the extreme summer. We see these dualities within the city, the clash of cultures that come together in this perfect symbiosis.

Nature plays a prominent role in this film. How important is the natural world to your experience of Montreal?
Matos: You wait for summer, right? You endure winter to wait for summer and to thrive in summer. Nature is really important. We're always outdoors. We're always hanging with our friends in the park. What you see in the film is essentially what we'd be doing. We'd be hanging out with our friends in that way and we wanted to communicate that.

Mauries-Rinfret: Throughout the film, it looks like you are far away from the city, but that's why we bring back the city soundscape. We're trying to remind you of that feeling when you're sitting in a park, but you still hear the bus in the background.

What were you trying to express about the architecture of Montreal?
Mauries-Rinfret: The design of Montreal, the architecture, the straight lines that come from the Olympic Stadium and all around the Olympic Stadium—it's a part of town that's underused. It was not as loved by Montrealers in the past and I think it's changing a little bit, especially with the 40th anniversary, so we wanted to play with that a little bit.

You both have experience working in several art forms. What makes Montreal such a suitable location for artists?
Matos: Montreal is an incubator. It's a creative incubator. I left Montreal for almost seven years. I moved to London, England. The reason why I wanted to come back was because a major city doesn't allow you the time to really develop and nurture and refine your ideas and your creativity. The creative community in Montreal is unlike any other. There's a lot of talent. They're pushing a lot of boundaries and that's something that we really feed off of.

Do you have any favourite Montreal artists, filmmakers, or musicians?
Matos: Jon Rafman's great. We love Editorial Magazine, which is run by the three main girls in our video.

Mauries-Rinfret: We wanted to work with real people that are making the city interesting. That's why we chose those three girls. We've also been working with Jacques Greene for some time now and that's always an inspiration.

Matos: Lunice, Braids, Tim Hecker, Majical Cloudz, everything that's happening at Arbutus Records. There's also a really exciting collective that just started, just doing a bunch of events at a space called Plaza820. It's in Mile-Ex, which is a really nice developing neighbourhood. They're doing artist talks and album launches there and it's a very unique, different space. We just feel so lucky that it's able to exist.

For those who have never been to Montreal, what do you think they're missing?
Mauries-Rinfret: It's a different lifestyle. It's slowed down a bit and you have more time to explore.

Matos: It's very open-minded. That's the best way to describe it. It's open-minded in every sense.

This article was paid for by Tourisme Montreal and was created independently from VICE's editorial staff.

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