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Movies on music 

Get a free backstage pass for Dalhousie Art Gallery’s music documentary series.

Each year, while the red carpets are being vacuumed and reels dusted off in preparation for Atlantic Film Festival events downtown, Dalhousie Art Gallery hosts an early-evening series of free screenings for cinephiles on a budget. This year, in honour of the Festival's 30th anniversary, they're doing something a little different; a series of music documentaries called Backstage Pass. The series spans decades---if you've never seen the Mayles brothers' terse portrayal of the Rolling Stones at Altamont in Gimme Shelter, you'll get the chance on September 18. Meanwhile, September 24th promises an inspired double bill with the acclaimed Canadian metal doc Anvil! The Story of Anvil and the brilliant insider's look at a Judas Priest tailgate party, 1986's Heavy Metal Parking Lot. The anniversary has also given curator Ron Foley MacDonald the chance to bookend Backstage Pass with films featuring east coast connections. "We thought the best way to celebrate the anniversary of the Atlantic Film Festival was to deliver a retrospective of music documentaries that would highlight its long commitment to blending the east coast's vibrant music scene into its cinema sector," he says.

The series will begin with Monterey Pop, which features Haligonian Denny Doherty singing lead vocals on "California Dreamin" with his group The Mamas & The Papas, and ends with The White Stripes: Under Great Northern Lights, with a climactic ending among Jack White's relatives---including Ashley MacIsaac and Buddy MacMaster---at the Savoy Theatre in Glace Bay.

Other inclusions in the series have connections to the festival's program itself---the immortal Talking Heads concert film Stop Making Sense will be shown on September 20 while a new documentary about David Byrne called Ride, Rise, Roar (review page 19) is screening in the main lineup. Meanwhile Monterey Pop and Don't Look Back director D.A. Pennebaker has a new film about a French pastry chef competition in the AFF lineup called Kings of Pastry (review page 12). The series will also enable the gallery to program inexpensive retrospectives, like last year's look at Wim Wenders' films. MacDonald hopes this year's lineup will have a similar impact, while attracting new students and visitors to the gallery. "It's important for there to be a free series at the AFF," he says. "This way, everyone wins."

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