For 37 years, the Montreal World Film Festival has brought hundreds of contemporary, compelling stories to Montreal screens. This year, from August 22 to September 2, the festival screens 432 films, half of them premieres from Quebec, Canada and countries around the world…
While serious drama tends to dominate the Montreal World Film Festival’s program, the 218 fictional and documentary features and over 200 shorts demonstrate their own approaches to capturing life’s realities on film. The festival’s films often delve into the emotional depths of personal and historical narratives to share not only a human story, but its cultural background, as in this year’s opening films, also in the festival’s World Competition.
In La Maison du Pêcheur, Quebecois director Alain Chartrand tackles one of the most significant, and shocking, events in Canadian history: the 1970 October Crisis, when four members of the Front de libération du Québec kidnapped and murdered Quebec labor minister Pierre Laporte, causing a nation-wide state of emergency. Yet Chartrand’s film takes us back to the summer of 1969, when the four men met, intent on sharing their politics with others, driven by a heady mix of youthful idealism and political convictions. On the other hand, another Quebecois director, Mathieu Roy, explores the aging mind in L’Autre Maison: two sons (played by Roy Dupuis and Émile Proulx-Cloutier) attempt to care for their 86-year-old father (Marcel Sabourin), whose dementia compels him to search for his “other,” more comfortable, non-existent house.
Also featuring in the World Competition are Christian Duguay’s Jappeloup, about a man who opts out of a legal career to pursue horse showjumping, German director Christian Schwochow’s Westen, about making a fresh start on life in the West, Chinese director Shi Wei’s family drama The Ferry, Polish director Maciej Pieprzyca’s Life Feels Good, about a man whose intelligence is underestimated because he has cerebral palsy, Jan Verheyen’s revenge-in-justice story The Verdict, Norwegian director Erik Poppe’s war-photography drama A Thousand Times Goodnight and François-Xavier Vives’s 1920s-era Landes, and American director Michael Z. Wechsler’s psychological thriller The Red Robin.
Of the hundreds of other films to choose from at the festival come Canadian and North American premieres from first-time directors and cinema greats – including Bruno Dumont’s Camille Claudel 1915, Stijn Coninx’s Marina, Ludwig, Bart Van den Bempt’s 82 Days In April, Claudia Pinto Emperador’s The Longest Distance, and Wang Jing’s Fall of Ming – as well as a series of new features and shorts from Korea and China, 26 feature documentaries that shed new light on international issues, and some of the best student-made films in the world. Closing the festival is Australian director Anne Fontaine’s emotionally-wrought Adore, based on the Doris Lessing book The Grandmothers, and starring Robin Wright and Naomi Watts as two best friends who begin torrid affairs with each other’s sons.
Along with all that brand-new cinema comes a second chance to see some of the best Quebecois films of 2012. Our Cinema – Review of a Year of Hits screens 13 feature films, including Xavier Dolan’s Laurence Anyways, Kim Nguyen’s War Witch, Paul Arcand’s Dérapages and Manon Briand’s Liverpool. Looking further back, the festival welcomes actress Kathleen Turner to Montreal and screens one of the films that made her a star, 1991 neo-noir film Body Heat. And Cinema Under the Stars takes advantage of the temperate late-summer weather to show 12 feature films outdoors at Place des Arts. Stay for a few minutes or settle right in with your own chair to see cinema classics such as Hitchcock’s Rear Window, Coppola’s The Godfather, Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner, David Lynch’s Blue Velvet, and more – even see the newest Bond flick, Skyfall, under the night sky.
Montreal World Film Festival, August 22-September 2, 2013