If there is another American artist alive like David Lynch, this writer isn’t aware of them.

The über-eccentric filmmaker has been responsible for some of the wildest and weirdest worlds ever committed to film, including such commercially successful cult favorites as Blue Velvet, Mullholland Drive and TV’s Twin Peaks.

Lynch is master of many mediums and has quietly made his mark as one of the most unique painters and visual artists of our generation. And yet, because of Lynch’s mainstream triumphs in cinema, the art world has long either ghettoized or outright dismissed his efforts.

This woeful oversight is one of the chief reasons award winning filmmaker Marina Zenovich opted to follow him for her short picture David Lynch: The Air is on Fire/Milano — which is receiving its world premiere this Saturday as part of the sixth Annual Canadian Art Reel Artists Film Festival.

But the idea of getting Lynch on board was initially met with some resistance.

“David’s a bit inaccessible but that’s just who he is,” says Zenovich, whose film Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired was voted one of the best five documentaries of 2008 by the National Board of Review.

“He liked the concept but didn’t want us to film him too much. That was hard. But he came around and I think the film has the perfect amount of access to him.”

The documentary sees Zenovich following Lynch to Milan to document his retrospective exhibition called The Air is on Fire. Scenes of the artist preparing for the show are intercut with testimonials from regular Lynch collaborators Laura Dern and Dennis Hopper (both co-starred in his 1986 masterpiece Blue Velvet) and exhibition curator Ilana Shamoon.

“I think David is a true artist in every sense of the word,” says Zenovich. “And, that is inspiring. He talks in the film about just getting lost in working. I am so jealous of that ability.

“What I love about the film is that you feel like you really see someone in the creative moment and he’s so involved in what he’s doing that I actually think he forgot that we were even there, filming him.”

Film fest
The sixth Annual Canadian Art Reel Artists Film Festival runs from Thursday through March 1. Visit www.canadianart.ca/reelartists for more complete screening information and showtimes.

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