The 42nd Edition of Montreal’s Festival du Nouveau Cinema is just days away and the weight of an incredibly diverse and exciting program can intimidate even the most weathered cineaste. Combining the very best of big name and upcoming filmmakers, the festival has built its reputation on giving attention to groundbreaking and avant-garde cinema. Though sometimes eclipsed by the international selections, perhaps the greatest asset of the FNC is its showcase of local talent. Every year, the Focus program takes a special look at the very best of independent and fresh cinema from Quebec and Canada.
Bringing together 18 feature length films and a wide selection of narrative and experimental shorts, this year’s line-up is strong and eclectic. For those who may not know what to see in this section, I have selected five films that I think are particularly interesting and worthwhile. Be sure to add your own recommendations in the comments below!
Directed by Francine Pelletier
A film about choosing the right path, Francine Pelletier draws on the Maple Spring to raise important questions related to identity and justice within Quebec society. Drawing both comparisons and contrasts between two important figures in this struggle Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois and Jean-Francois Lisée, the documentary strives to understand the meaning of society at an important crossroads. Taking focus on the impact the movement had on Quebec, its people and its future, the film will no doubt resonate powerfully with local audiences who search for meaning and direction during a tumultuous political era.
Directed by Frédérick Pelletier
Traoré is a sailor from the Ivory Coast and the assistant engineer on the cargo ship Diego Star. The ship breaks down in the St. Lawrence River and is towed to a shipward in Lévis, where Troré is blamed for the incident. A political and personal film, it portrays the unique struggles that have emerged as a result of the current economic crisis and the effects it has on cultural, society and the individual.
Directed by Mélanie Ladouceur, François Yo Gourd
A documentary about the infamous Rhino Party of Canada (their official slogan is “the only democratic party in the world with a clear penchant for tyranny”, a biting statement if there ever was), a satirical political organization that pokes fun at the absurdity of the political process. Bringing together great minds and artists, the film reveals the importance of the “jester” in the democratic process.
Directed by Mitchell Stafiej
An experimental work that examines our relationship with death and images in the contemporary world, Mitchell Stafiej utilizes low-fi equipment in order to examining voyeuristic concerns of modern life. Using seven long takes of characters filming themselves and the lingering effects of guilt, this film breaks down the boundaries of traditional narrative storytelling. Mitchell Stafiej is a recent graduate from Concordia University and this is his first feature length film.
Directed by Bruce LaBruce
No stranger to the weird, the offbeat and the disturbing Bruce LaBruce is in the running for Canada’s most provocative filmmaker. On the surface Lake is a perfectly normal 18 year old. He is normal, he has a normal life and a normal girlfriend… but he has an “abnormal” desire for old folks. When he gets a summer job in a nursing home, Lake ends up striking up an unconventional romance with an 80 year old man. Daring, funny and a touch disconcerting Gerontophilia will be unlike any other film you see this year.
– Justine Smith