Wednesday, August 16, 2006

2006 World Film Festival in Montreal

Shit i’m not very happy!

Been out of town for over a week, just got back, and just saw that there was a sale on tickets to the 2006 World Film Festival in Montreal but… the sale ended yesterday!!!

Major drag, as this is one of the few Montreal festivals which i actually look forward to. And now i have to pay full price…

This is a heads up to those of you who live in Montreal, though – while the schedule is not out yet, there are several press releases about which movies will be there already up on the FFM’s website. Time to start scheduling those two weeks from August 24th til September 4th…

(In fact the comlpete schedule is now up as a pdf....)

Some interesting looking selections, though i must say that i could do with less Canadian and Quebec content, and more from other places… this is the second year in a row that the festival seems to have an inordinate number of Made In Canada movies, which i find unnecessary and even unfortunate. While i am only dimly aware of the politics of it all, my impression is that this is a part of the squabble which has been going on between the FFM and SODEC and Telefilm – with far less money, it’s probably easier to get local stuff, and also i imagine there is the hope that in doing so he FFM will rally some local support.

(Don’t ask me why there is this squabble – i have no handle on it – though it seems bizarrely bitter, the kinda thing you’d expect more from leftists; and there seems to be this penchant for political metaphors in describing it too – last year the FFM accused the Quebec government of being “Stalinist” and this year they’re saying the chances of the FFM and Telefilm making peace are about the same as Hezbollah and the Zionist State. Bizarre!)

The long and short of which is… far less African movies than in past years, far less queer content, far fewer documentaries from around the world, and seemingly far less politics.

But then again – not being plugged into the movie world – maybe it’s just that films are less interesting and more conservative? Could it be?

In any case, caveats aside i’m glad the FFM is almost here. From what i know of other cities, this is one of the most affordable and “regular-person-friendly” festivals of its kind, and i look forward to it all year long. If it is going down hill, it is certainly still far better than the regular offerings at the movies - especially now that Cinema de Parc has closed.

The following is a list – with the Festival’s descriptions (don’t blame me for their weird politics!) – of some entries which jumped out at me:

GYMNASLAERER PEDERSEN (COMRADE PEDERSEN) (PI) Norway / 2006 / 35 mm / Colour / 110 min / Dir.: Hans Petter Moland, Cast: Kristoffer Joner, Ane Dahl Torp, Anne Ryg, Jan Gunnar Røise, Jon Øigarden, Stig Henrik Hoff, Silje Torp Færevag, Fridtjov Såaheim In 1968, it seemed as if all of European youth was infected with revolutionary fever. When young high school teacher Knut Pedersen arrives in a small Norwegian town he discovers that Maoism and sex are uncomfortable bedmates.

RUIDO (NOISE) (PM) Puerto Rico / 2006 / 35 mm / Colour / 100 min / Dir.: César Rodríguez, Cast: María Coral Otero Soto, José Rafael Álvarez, Blanca Lissette Cruz, Francisco Capó, Teófilo Torres Franchi, a teenaged girl suffering from a rare hearing disorder, is sexually harrassed by the man who suddenly enters her mother's life. She decides to fight back. No holds barred.

LA CATHÉDRALE (THE CATHEDRAL) (PI) Mauritius - Switzerland / 2006 / Video / Colour / 78 min / Dir.: Harrikrisna Anenden, Cast : Ingrid Blackburn, Darma Mootien, Geeta Mootien, Gaston Valayden, Ashwin Anenden, Yves Herman A day in the life of Lina, a working-class girl in Port-Louis, capital of Mauritius, as seen by the local cathedral.

OMARET YACOUBIAN (THE YACOUBIAN BUILDING) (PC) Egypt / 2005 / 35 mm / Colour / 165 min / Dir.: Marwan Hamed, Cast : Adel Imam, Nour El Sherif, Yousra, Isaad Younis, Hind Sabry, Somaya El Khashab, Ahmed Rateb, Ahmed Bedeir, Mohamed Imam When the Yacoubian Building was built in downtown Cairo in 1934 it housed the city's upper crust -- pashas, diplomats, tycoons. These days the tenants include all social classes. This epic paints a portrait of secular Cairo society, warts and all.

DIA DE FESTA (HOUSEWARMING PARTY) (PI) Brazil - France / 2006 / 35 mm / Colour / 77 min / Dir.: Toni Ventura, Pablo Georgieff A documentary on four strong women who lead a social movement for the homeless in São Paulo, Brazil. Non-fiction documentary.

EL COMITÉ (THE COMMITTEE) (PC) Ecuador / 2005 / Video / Colour / 93 min / Dir.: Mateo Herrera On a visiting day in Penal Garcia Moreno, the main penitentiary in Quito, Ecuador, a riot breaks out among the inmates and 360 people are held hostage. The situation is resolved, but not before many appalling truths emerge. Non-fiction documentary.

ESTRELLAS DE LA LÍNEA (THE RAILROAD ALL-STARS) (PNA) Spain / 2006 / 35 mm / Colour / 90 min / Dir.: Chema Rodríguez A group of prostitutes in Guatemala start a soccer team to publicize their fight for respect and an end to violence, but getting into a local tournament proves a lot harder than they imagined. Non-fiction documentary.

LES ANNÉES MAO (THE MAO YEARS) (PI) France / 2005 / Video / Colour / 54 min / Dir.: Bernard Debord French Maoists never numbered more than 10,000, but in the politically turbulent years of the late 1960s and early 70s, they monopolized the street and the media. Non-fiction documentary.

GUAN CHA MOSUO (MOSSO, THE LAST MATRIARCHY FAMILY) (PI) Chine / 2005 / Vidéo / Colour / 60 min / Dir.: Weijun Chen In a remote region of southwest China, there lives the Mosso ethnic group who have a matriarchal and matrilineal society. A young Mosso girl wants to liberate herself from the primitive Mosso social system. Non-fiction documentary.

SALVADOR (PUIG ANTICH) (SALVADOR) (PNA) Spain - United Kingdom / 2006 / 35 mm / Colour / 138 min / Dir.: Manuel Huerga In 1974, Salvador Puig Antich, a violent revolutionary, became the last political prisoner to be executed in Spain. This is his story. [Fictionalized - what they don't mention is that Antich was a member of the anti-authoritarian communist Movimiento Ibérico de Liberación group...]

BREAKING RANKS (PM) Canada / 2006 / Video / Colour / 66 min / Dir.: Michelle Masson A small number of American soldiers seek refuge in Canada in objection to the war in Iraq. Non-fiction documentary.

EN EL HOYO (IN THE PIT) (PC) Mexico / 2006 / 35 mm / Colour / 85 min / Dir.: Juan Carlos Rulfo Workers battle to give the traffic-bogged, smog-ridden Mexico City ring freeway an upper level. A beautifully-observed tribute to the men who keep “progress” moving. Non-fiction documentary.

MARIO'S STORY (PI) United States / 2006 / Video / Colour / 98 min / Dir.: Jeff Werner, Susan Koch As a teenager in East Los Angeles, Mario Rocha was sentenced to life in prison for a murder he did not commit. Family and friends spend over ten years fighting for his freedom. Non-fiction documentary.

SHAMELESS, The ART of Disability (PM) Canada / 2006 / Video / Colour / 71 min / Dir.: Bonnie Sherr Klein A group of artists with diverse disabilities decide to turn the tables on Hollywood stereotypes; they make a pact to meet a year later at the KickstART! Festival with the intent of creating their own images of disability. Non-fiction documentary.

WABAN-AKI: PEUPLE DU SOLEIL LEVANT (WABAN-AKI: PEOPLE OF THE RISING SUN) (PM) Canada / 2006 / Video / Colour / 104 min / Dir.: Alanis Obomsawin Filmmaker Alanis Obomsawin, one of Canada's most distinguished documentarists, returns to Odanak, the village were she grew up, in order to craft an illuminating and lyric account of her own Abenaki people. Non-fiction documentary.

Remember, it’s only affordable if you buy tickets in lots of ten (or 30 if you have a lot of friends!). Go here for more details!


So far i have seen and reviewed these movies:



Sutra Ujurtu

Guan Cha Mosuo - the Last Matriarchy Family

Gymnaslaerer Pedersen (Comrade Pedersen)


  1. Merci pour les suggesiotn spour le FFM. Re L'Immeuble Yacoubian, notez que ce film est soit censuré soit entièrement banni en Egypte - ou se passe l'action - car deux personnages principaux sont gais! Il faudrait aussi lire le livre.