Friday, October 10, 2014

Montreal's FNC - a film festival's film festival

Attending Montreal’s Festival of New Cinema (FNC) (street pavilion pictured left) is a little like attending a conference on higher mathematics. Even devoted cineastes and festivalgoers might give pause – or be intimidated – by the various deep and obscure recesses of the film world through which the programmers have burrowed to select each year’s massive program -  380 films including 152 features – from more than 50 countries. This is my occasional October go-to fest in a lovely city where the autumn leaves are more advanced than in dear old Windsor. The FNC is really a film festival’s film festival, if I can say that. At 43 years it’s actually older than this city’s traditionally best known festival, the Montreal World Film Festival, held each August. And it has had the props from some of the world’s leading innovative directors from John Cassavetes to Spike Lee to Wim Wenders and Jim Jarmusch. So while critically acclaimed if sometimes obscure films are FNC’s flavour of the day it can seem surprising to find relatively mainstream movies sprinkled amongst the mix. Such was the case with Wednesday night’s opening film, Canadian director Philippe Falardeau’s The Good Lie starring Reese Witherspoon, now playing widely in the U.S. but which still hasn’t come to Detroit.....However, regular daily screenings didn’t get off to an auspicious start when the Argentinian film Jauja (Lisandro Alonso) starring Viggo Mortensen couldn’t be shown because the digital print was corrupted – bring back reel-to-reel! Next up was first time director’s Emma Dante’s A Street in Palermo, a tale of what happens when two people confront one another and refuse to back down. This is a terrific set piece about obstinacy and its ramifications as two car drivers going opposite directions on a tiny street refuse to back up to let the other pass, each believing they’re in the right….The next film was Seeing is Believing (2002), part of an homage to Canadian documentarist Peter Wintonick (Manufacturing Consent: Noam Chomsky and the Media, 1992), about the power of the hand held camcorder as a “weapon” for activists to confront authority and record abuse. It shows how citizens’ videos have been effective in countries from The Philippines to Bosnia in documenting human rights crimes…..Finally I saw another first time director’s feature, Garrett Bradley’s Below Dreams. Set mainly in New Orleans the film follows three characters, all in their 20s, struggling to build lives out of unlucky or marginal circumstances. These mostly unprofessional actors, found on Craigslist, with similar personal life stories, created extraordinarily naturalistic portraits of everyday life.

No comments:

Post a Comment