RIDM: A Documentary Film Festival with an Edge

Posted on November 15th, 2009 by .

In recent years, with the commercial and critical success of Michael Moore’s Bowling for Columbine and R.J. Cutler’s The September Issue, the documentary film has managed to gain considerable recognition and much wider appeal. Every year, MONTREAL’S INTERNATIONAL DOCUMENTARY FESTIVAL (RIDM), which stands for Rencontres internationales du documentaire de Montréal, showcases the best documentaries made over the past year. For twelve years in a row, RIDM has lined up 100 movies from over 30 countries.

Read the full story to find out more about a film that focuses on a particularly bizarre aspect of the porn industry in Israel.

This year’s edition is dedicated to Allan King, one of the pioneers of Canadian Direct Cinema and the director of A Married Couple, a groundbreaking film about the collapse of a marriage in suburban Toronto. Opening the 12th edition of the festival is the The Last Train, a film from Montreal director, Lixin Fan. It’s a powerful piece about the individual lives of the people toiling away behind the ‘Made in China’ label. Closing the festival this year is October Country, by first-time filmmakers Michael Palmieri and Donal Mosher, focusing on the strange destiny of an average American family told over the course of one year.

RIDM features a selection of standout films from all over the world, including original works from talented locals. They’ve divided up the programme into four broad categories. Camera-stylo focuses on the personal, highlighting local filmmaking with eleven titles from Quebec and Canada. From the story of two Innu women (Aimer, finir, by Lucie Lambert) to the harsh conditions of life in Kenya (A Time There Was, Don McWilliams), Camera-stylo shows the amazing experiences of these directors, and explores their individual language, giving the viewer the opportunity to appreciate the singular qualities of each film. While EcoCamera focuses on films about scientific and environmental challenges, DocTape presents the most marginal works created here and elsewhere, from subversive statements about politics to pop culture anthems. Finally, Camera at the Ready deals with current global political and social issues. This is my favourite section, because you get to see what’s really happening through the eyes of committed directors whose look at modern life can have an impact on our own views and perspectives. The topics range from an insightful analysis of the repressive justice system in Colombia to the bizarre use of Holocaust narratives in Israeli porn movies. Films that focus on the Albanian code of vengeance or on the dictatorship in Myanmar bear little resemblance to the type of fare one sees at the Cineplex these days. Instead, they are hard-hitting examinations of some of the nastier aspects that exist below the surface of every society. The films featured at the RIDM do not gloss over some of the uglier aspects of life; these aren’t feel-good movies like Slumdog Millionnaire, portraying highly stylized (but mostly fake) portraits of people in dire circumstances.

First-time filmmakers are given a lot of exposure at this festival. This year RIDM is giving newcomers the chance to share their ideas and their vision with the rest of the world by featuring no less than 20 international debuts and 12 first-timers from Quebec and Canada. Don’t miss this unique event, since many of these movies probably won’t be screened again in regular movie theatres. Nothing is more engaging and challenging than discovering a work of art that speaks with truth and integrity about our lives. Looking through the lens of a talented filmmaker is one of the best ways to learn more about society and to understand the reality of other people’s experiences. Check out >RIDM’S WEBSITE for complete programme details, ticket info and movie descriptions.

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