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Reel Artists Film Festival: fresh stimulations, provocations and illuminations

The five-day run at TIFF Bell Lightbox begins with the world premiere of Kehinde Wiley: An Economy of Grace. An Economy of Grace.

After 10 consecutive years, the format for RAFF has become pretty familiar – a mix of world, North American, Canadian and Toronto premieres of documentaries about contemporary art and artists, some meet-and-greets, a lecture or postscreening interview here, a panel discussion there.

But it's the content that counts, of course. And this year's instalment, the 11th, has more than its share of fresh stimulations, provocations and illuminations.

The Toronto festival's five-day run kicks off Feb. 19 at TIFF Bell Lightbox with the world premiere of Kehinde Wiley: An Economy of Grace, by Jeff Dupre, producer/co-director of Marina Abramovic: The Artist Is Present. Wiley's famous for his detailed, bright paintings of persons of colour in heroic poses; Grace focuses on the New York artist's first foray, in 2012, into giving African-American women his patented heroic/glam treatment.

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RAFF's other world bow is Richard Deacon – In Between, a profile of the Turner Prize-winning abstract sculptor by Switzerland's Claudia Schmid. Fellow Brit Michael Landy gets profiled, too, in Saints Alive, a North American premiere from Jared Schiller centred on the seven kinetic sculptures Landy made last year for London's National Gallery, inspired by religious works in the gallery's collection.

Schiller, in fact, has five films in RAFF '14 and will be in town for the fest. So is famous Italian curator and historian Germano Celant; he'll be lecturing after the screening of two films on an exhibition he did last year in Venice for the Prada Foundation (

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James More


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