Le Festival des Films du Monde, or The Montreal World Film Festival (WFF), starts its 33rd edition today and runs until September 7th. This year there will be 400 films from 78 countries in 9 categories, out of which, 240 are features, 130 are global or international premieres, and 64 are features by first-time directors.
The WFF really gets into Montreal Festival mode, which means blocking off major downtown streets so that thousands of people can sit outside and watch movies for free on huge screens. Movies run from the more obvious crowd-pleasers, like Ridley Scott’s Gladiator and Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey to international art house fare like Wong Kar-Wai’s In the Mood for Love and Mira Nair’s Monsoon Wedding. There’s also a tent in front of the Cinéma Quartier Latin where recent Quebec features and NFB classic animations are being shown. Something for everyone! There’s nothing like sitting in the open air with thousands of your fellow human beings, sharing a movie.
One of the main obstacles to navigating the enormous selection at a festival like the WFF is that, unlike the more star-studded Toronto International Film Festival, which starts next month, one can’t depend on finding recognizable names. I choose what to see based purely on whether a two-line catalogue description can pique my interest. I have an interest in Canadian, Chinese, German, and Iranian cinema, to name a few, so sometimes my selections are also based on country of origin. Here is my personal list of films I’m going to try and see:
ANNE PERRY - INTERIORS (DOC)
Dana Linkiewicz; Allemagne; 70 mn;
In 1994, the film HEAVENLY CREATURES revealed a secret about Anne Perry: at the age of 15 she was involved in a brutal murder. This documentary paints a portrait of the celebrated crime novelist and her continuing burden of guilt.
CAJA NEGRA (BLACK BOX) (PRE)
Ariel Gordon; Mexique; 78 mn;
A peculiar encounter between a Mexican political operator and an ordinary man recruited to assassinate a former presidential candidate, all captured by surveillance cameras.
DUST OF TIME, THE (I SKONI TOU CHRONOU) (HC)
Theo Angelopoulos; Greece - Italy - Germany - Russia; 125mn;
In this second part of Theo Angelopoulos’ historical panorama, a director named A. begins making a film about the life of his parents. The love story of these two Greek émigrés is constantly influenced by historical events.
FOR THE LOVE OF MOVIES: THE STORY OF AMERICAN FILM CRITICISM (DOC)
Gerald Peary; États-Unis; 81 mn;
Gerlad Peary’s documentary dramatizing the rich history of American film criticism — from the raw beginnings before Griffith to the current battle for audiences between youthful website populists and the veteran
RWANDA, JE ME SOUVIENS (DOC)
André St-Pierre; Canada; 53 mn;
The Hutus and Tutsis comprising the Rwandan expatriate community in Quebec, live largely separate existences. Some have tried to break the wall so that a dialogue, however painful, might begin.
QALA (FORTRESS) (REG)
Shamil Najafzada; Azerbaïdjan; 83 mn;
In the remote mountains of Azerbaijan, a crew is shooting a film about war. The shoot takes place in an old town near an ancient fortress. Then a real war begins.
SILENT WEDDING (NUNTA MUTA) (REG)
Horatiu Malaele; Romania - France; 87 mn;
A wedding ceremony in a small Romanian village is interrupted by news of Stalin’s death. The authorities order seven days of mourning, but this doesn’t go down too well with the assembled guests...
THE DEATH OF ALICE BLUE (REG)
Robert Maynard; Canada; 87 mn;
A young woman goes to work for an advertising agency and finds that her new job is a dead end in more ways than one. A punkish, hyperreal spin on the vampire-beside-you genre.
THE EVERLASTING FLAME: BEIJING OLYMPICS 2008 (HC)
Gu Jun; Chine; 110mn;
The official documentary of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games, covering preparations, behind-the-scenes activity, personal vignettes, the opening and closing ceremonies, and the athletic competitions themselves.
THE GREAT CONTEMPORARY ART BUBBLE (DOC)
Ben Lewis; Royaume-Uni - Allemagne - France - Pays-Bas; 90 mn;
Art critic and award-winning filmmaker Ben Lewis spent a year following the booming contemporary art market, from its heady peak to its inevitable crash.
TIME OF THE COMET (KOHA E KOMETES) (REG)
Fatmir Koçi; Germany - Albania - France; 104mn;
In Albania, 1914, Shestan and his four buddies decide to volunteer to fight for their country, newly liberated from the Ottoman Empire. But, armed with an out-of-date Turkish map, they keep looking for war in all the wrong places.
TUSARNITUUQI: NAGANO AU PAYS DES INUITS (DOC)
Félix Lajeunesse; Canada; 52 mn;
In September 2008 Canada’s most prestigious orchestra, the Montreal Symphony Orchestra, embarked on its first
ever tour of the Canadian Arctic. This will be shown Sept. 5 in the presence of Montreal symphony conductor Kent Nagano!
TWENTY (BIST) (REG)
Abdolreza Kahani; Iran; 88 mn;
The owner of a reception hall has decided to shut the place in twenty days: there are more funeral events than there are wedding receptions and it is depressing him. But the hall workers resist...
WEAVING GIRL (TISSEUSE, LA) (COMP)
Wang Quan'an; Chine; 100mn;
When Li Li, a worker in a Xian textile factory, is diagnosed with an incurable disease, she decides to travel and make the best of whatever life she has left. This trip turns out to be more eventful than she had expected.
WELL DONE ABBA (ABBA KA KUAN) (HC)
Shyam Benegal; India; 132mn;
When Armaan, the driver for a Mumbai executive, overstays his leave of absence by two months, his boss is furious and ready to fire him. Armaan, however, has a long story to account for his lateness. A very long story. But is it true?