While Cannes and Toronto have the glitz and glamour of the Hollywood machine behind them and run festivals that overflow year after year with an ever more glitzy roster of American movie stars, some might say that all those red carpets distract from what’s truly important in a film festival: a massive list of movies from all the far-flung corners of the world that will probably never grace a Montreal screen again, all affordable and accessible. If you like your film-festival loose, large and somewhat democratic, the MWFF is for you!
The best news of all is that the Montreal World Film Festival is affordable and accessible to all—which is definitely not the case for any of the higher profile festivals we can think of. Want to stand outside in the rain waiting for a glimpse of Matt Damon and George Clooney? This is not your festival. But if you’re interested in seeing films from around the world, including any of an enormous documentary section consisting of 40 films from every corner of Earth, then run don’t walk to the Quartier des Spectacles for a film-festival experience unlike any other.
This isn’t to say that the MWFF is devoid of stars—in fact, the biggest star of all time on the French screen, Catherine Deneuve, will be present for a festival tribute. One of the Movies Under the Stars offerings of this year will be Claude Lelouch’s Les Demoiselles de Rochefort, a film that stars Deneuve. Lelouch, one of the greatest living French filmmakers, will also teach a master class at the festival.
Many directors owe major moments in their careers to the festival—for example, Japanese directors Takahisa Zeze (Life Back Then) and Masato Harada (Heartbreak Yakuza) are returning to the festival after showing previous films here, as does Belgian director Geoffrey Enthoven, whose The Over The Hill Band wowed audiences two years ago. This time, he’ll be premiering Come As You Are, a touching road comedy about a group of twenty something virgins who won’t let their handicaps get in the way of their deflowerings while on holiday in Spain.
If you’re a fan of world cinema, what could be better than ten days spent discovering unknown soon-maybe-to-be-classics by directors from 70 countries? Again, the best thing about the festival is the price tag: Along with free movies shown on steamy summer nights in front of Place des Arts, (this year’s theme: Hollywood, Bollywood, and the Girls), you can see 10 films for 65$, or purchase a special Cinephile pass for unlimited viewing.
Montreal World Film Festival, August 18-28, 2011