Wednesday, September 3, 2008

montreal world film festival

The Montreal World Film Festival! Now over. I did a marathon on Monday, the last day of the festival, and attended five films in a row! And believe it or not, I remember each one vividly! Montreal has a bit of a rivalry with Toronto and the same holds true for our film festivals. The Toronto Film Festival is one of the most well-known worldwide and attracts all the attention. The reason I love ours is that it does not have the glitz and glamour and parties and celebrities and "hollywood" influence that the Toronto Film Festival has. It's just about films and everyday people who love films. Many of the films are obscure and rough around the edges. But there are diamonds in those roughs! And the adventure of searching for those diamonds is part of the appeal for me.

It's not just the films I love about the festival. It's the whole process. I love the way the glossy, crinkly, pages of the schedule feel and sound as I peruse the film offerings. I love the way my yellow highlighter slides across those glossy pages as I highlight the films that interest me and the way my red hi-tecpoint ink pen smoothly outlines a rough box around the ones I will definitely see - a ritual I've had for years. I love scouring the film blurbs looking for clues that hint at which films might be great. I love the process of deciding which films to see, often based on avoiding rush-hour traffic and securing parking on a tiny stretch of street that has the only free parking in the area during certain times. I love the energy of the other film-goers scrambling around to get to their films and listening in to the quiet corner conversations discussing what they've just seen. I love that each time you screen a film, you never know what to expect.

This year I was away for a good part of the festival but I did manage to squeeze in 13 films, which is about standard for me.
  1. The Home of Dark Butterflies (Finland): A boy deals with a secret in his past while at a boy's home on an isolated island. Wonderfully dark and moody. Beautifully shot.

  2. All Will Be Well (Poland): A boy tries to save his ailing mother by jogging to a shrine of the Madonna, with his alcoholic coach in tow. Touching tale with lots of humour.

  3. What If Death Do Us Part? (Germany): People confronted by death in various forms. Several stories merging into one with humour and humanity. Love those.

  4. Katyn (Poland): By the great Polish Director Andrzej Wajda. An account of Stalin's murder of 15,000 reserve officers in 1940, most of them Polish intelligentsia. Very meaningful to us as Jerzy's uncle was among those murdered.

  5. All Inclusive (Chile-Mexico): A family drama at a holiday resort. Funny and touching.

  6. Cowards (Spain): An account of a boy who is being bullied. Heart-wrenching at times.

  7. Be Calm and Count to Seven (Iran): A roughly told tale of life in a fishing village where smuggling people and goods is the way of life.

  8. The Song of Sparrows (Iran): Possibly my favourite of this year's festival. A poetic and humanistic slice-of-life story.

  9. Mermaid (Russia): A dark comedy about a girl who has the power to make her wishes come true. Delightfully quirky.

  10. Rain (Argentina): Two people meet in an unexpected way and their stories unfold. Nicely told.
  11. Son of a Lion (Australia-Pakistan): A young boy, living on the Pakistan-Afghan border, struggles to get an education despite his father's wish that he remain in the family business of arms-making.
  12. The Stranger in Me (Germany): Excellent portrait of a woman dealing with post-partum depression.
  13. Parking (Taiwan): A man tries to find the person who has double-parked and blocked his car, meeting interesting characters along the way. Scattered story but entertaining.

15 comments:

Joanna said...

Hi Kate
Thanks for the summaries. They all sounded wonderful....next year I MUST do this. Watching a good film is like a catharsis...a release of so many
emotions.

Uschi said...

Woww, you've got perseverance!!
I know none of those films, thanks for the recommendations!
At least you have seen one of my favourite actors, Monica Bleibtreu!

Jeane said...

what I love about your description of the film festival is that you put it on like a favorite old coat that makes you feel good when you are wearing it!

marlana said...

Kate, I always feel as if we have this subterranean connection. When you wrote about loving Iranian films I almost fell off my chair.I will have to see the ones you mentioned. What you wrote was the antithesis of this student in my acting classes from Iran. He said he was trained in acting in "Persia" (was he afraid we would stereotype him as Iranian?) but all he wanted to do was violence, snorting, smoking, cursing and suicide. He even vomited for real on stage. Our shock reaction was laughter. I was about as blown away as you were about those films you saw but in a different way. One more experience for my biography.

Shayla said...

Thanks for the list, Kate. These look really good. I'll keep my eyes open for them.
What I love is that film festival offerings go beyond the mainstream- so much more interesting.

I love the atmosphere of a film festival too. We host FAVA in Moncton. It deals only with French language films. The film makers are usually there after the film to chat with us and answer any questions.

mansuetude said...

wow. ah, thanks! very much. did you eat a lot of popcorn? :)

kate said...

joanna...that's exactly it. Catharsis. It really is good for the soul.

uschi...I don't know if it was perseverance or insanity! Five is a bit much in one day. Two or three is quite comfortable for me. Both of the German films were very good so I would definitely recommend them if you find them in theatres. And Monica Bleibtreu! What a wonderful character actor! I must say that her performance was a highlight of the film for me. The film had some heavy moments and she was the comic relief. But there was a lot of depth in her performance and I have no doubt she does serious drama just as well. I hope to see her again!

jeane...a favourite old coat. You've expressed it perfectly. That's exactly what it feels like!

marlana...wow! Interesting that you should have so different an association with Iranian films. But there are many types of films and many types of performances! I think I prefer my experience! :) I have seen many Iranian films and the words I would use to describe the ones I've seen would be humanistic and poetic. I saw an amazing film last year called Persian Carpet. It was a project involving about 12 or 13 Iranian film directors who each did a short film on their take of the persian carpet. Some were political, some historical, others poetic. Some were purely visual, others told a story. It had the whole spectrum of what is good in film!

shayla...I agree with you on getting beyond the mainstream. That's what I love too. And so great that you have the FAVAs to look forward to! Moncton would be the perfect place for french language films. I love it when you have the director right there. It gives the opportunity to ask questions, and in some cases, give a big hug of appreciation! Usually at the montreal film festival I get to see a few of the directors (or producers or sometimes actors) who introduce their films and are available after the screening to answer questions.

mansuetude...actually, I only ate one bag during the whole festival! :)

Joy Logan said...

Kate yoour taste in movies sounds like mine. I founnd the best ones are on the Sundance channels lately,small but packed independant films. Thanks for stopping by my blog too. I looked at all your paper creations on the side pannel of your blog,they are fabulous! I can see them in a museum! Great work. One day I may post my collages for the "ICE exchange" stop by the one Dale runs on line to catch previous exchanges,they are all there.

Jo Horswill said...

Kate,
What a joy reading your amazing post this morning...Firstly, your beautiful response to the WHOLE experience, stands out for me.
"Searching for diamonds in those roughs"...and by the list you have so wonderfully summarized...looks like you found some!
Montreal film festival {with Kate),is going on my "WISH" list...:)

notmassproduced said...

wow - what a marathon :o)

lynne h said...

well kate, i was going to write something else entirely until i read, really read, about stalin killing 15,000 reserve officers in 1940. this stopped me in my tracks. it leaves me speechless. i'm very glad that Andrzej Wajda made this film... maybe it will help us be more kind to one another.

kate said...

joy...wow, the Sundance Channel! Of course there's the festival, but I never knew there was a channel. It may be worthwhile getting cable or a satellite dish just for that. And thanks for your comments on my remnant reliquaries. Much appreciated. Do you have a link to the ICE exchange? Another thing I've never heard of! I don't get out much!

Jo...thanks for the nice comments. I want to put that on my wish list as well. We'd have so much fun!Note to self: go to film festival with Jo!

kate...don't forget, eight of those films were spread over four days. Only the last five were in a row! I was OK until the middle of the 11th film and then I started to fade. But I somehow got my second wind and spruced up for the remaining two.

lynne...thanks for commenting on this. It was a film that had to be made. The murder was covered up for 49 years. Poles knew about it but under communist rule, they were not even allowed to utter the word Katyn (the woods where most of the assassinations took place). When the wall came down, the truth was revealed, and in 1990 the USSR admitted responsibilty. There is still much that is unknown though. Another horror that humans have committed against humans. You are right. We need more kindness.

lynne h said...

oh my goodness... isn't it something that the murder of 15,000 humans could be covered up for 49 years? and not being allowed to utter even the name of the woods where the shootings occurred? yes, you're right, this film had to be made...

please sir said...

Wow - sounds like an amazing event - thanks for the movie line-up!

kate said...

lynne...yes, finally the families of those who were murdered have some kind of closure and the world is starting to become aware.

please sir...my pleasure!