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World Film Festival: Worldy goods

Worldy goods

Adrià Collado and Eric Francés chat sense into the world in Aislados

Learn a little about yourself and a lot about others at this year's FFM

In a world of increasingly sharper cultural divisions, ethnic and religious distrust, economic disparity, wilful ignorance and obliviousness, foreign films take on near diplomatic significance. Sure, the experience can be broken down to little more than sitting in plushy seats and watching lights dance across a screen, but on a fundamental level these cinematic missives are part of some grand unsung humanitarian effort.

Whether we’re talking about slapstick comedy from Japan, a gritty Norwegian skid row drama or a magic realist gem made by Japanese in Finland, the effect is the same. Film gives us a backdoor entry to worlds we’d never be able to access otherwise, whether it’s by exposing us to the realities of a foreign land, to a foreign culture’s view of us, or simply to the unsung subcultures buried within our own.

With that in mind, here are some recommendations for films screening at the Montreal World Film Festival:

Aislados (Spain) The premise is simple. A dissatisfied sports journalist, Adrià, goes to Ibiza to visit a childhood friend, Kique. They spend several days drinking, eating, wandering around the country home Kique is (perhaps not so officially) housesitting, and talking. The talking is what Aislados is all about. The two friends converse in a friendly, jibing and unceasing stream, leaping from topics as varied as sleeping with the daughters of old classmates, how only the unemployed should be allowed to be politicians, and why it is acceptable to eat snails but not slugs.

Unspeakable (Canada) Well-known documentary filmmaker John Paskiewich points his camera inward to confront our culture’s relationship to the underappreciated lives of stutterers. Paskiewich, himself a chronic stutterer since the age of 8, has intimate knowledge of the "unspeakable" humiliations experienced by the speech-impeded. In an effort to understand his own relationship to the affliction, he ventures into an unexpected world, exploring various therapies, meeting with other stutterers and exposing society’s unsympathetic ignorance of the illness.

Komome Diner (Japan/Finland) In an odd act of faith, a young Japanese woman moves to Helsinki to open a traditional Japanese-style diner. Citing an instinctive sympathy between the polite nature of the Finnish and the stoic simplicity of Japanese food, the woman anticipates only success. But success is not always how we imagine it. The young woman’s quiet certainty quickly attracts a menagerie of unusual clients and allies. The effect is lethally charming and pure magic.

Maria to Callas (Germany) A widowed crockery designer begins an email correspondence with a widow who sold his now-deceased wife a treasured Maria Callas record. Slowly, over the course of a correspondence that discusses aesthetics, loneliness and the healing power of music, he falls in love with his pen pal. The only problem is that she believes he is the wife she sold the album to. Anonymously he registers at the hotel where she works. The rest is a sensitive and compelling portrait of the way people connect.World Film Festival
To Sept. 4
www.ffm-montreal.org

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  • by Vakh Brom - August 24, 2006, 9:16 pm

    From movies that is in the program of the festival, personally recommend to see PEREGON( TRANSIT) by Rogozhkin. HOUR
    already wrote about Rogozkin – when his CUCKOO was released here in Canada. (Dmitri never missed Russian movie :))) The movie is wonderful and I think Montreal festival is lucky to get it .
    The main plot is about a life of a small airport in North Siberia at the bank of Bering Gulf during the World War II.
    The airport is a transit spot for military airplanes driven from Alaska to Soviet Union ( under the Land-Lease agreement). From Alaska to Chukotka aircrafts are driven by american female pilot squad. After landing in this place, aircrafts are delivered to the German front line by young russian pilots.
    It is almost no story here, just chronicles of life of the airport with these short 1-2 day meetings between flights of two squads.
    As usually, Rogozkin is trying to get and answer – does really Babylon tower divided people forever by giving them different languages, or we can understand each other and communicate oh some higher level. As usually this movie is filled with very bright personages, ( like Vasya – Eskimo, who dreams just take one look at America , or airport’ commandant with alcohol addiction, or a cook – former aircraft designer, who is a GULAG prisomer now).
    As usual for Rogozkin movies – no stars here, mostly young unknown actors, but great acting and the movie is full of humor.
    He also shows how people’s mentality changes during the war, when dearth is something very usual…
    It is very well made mainstream movie – definitely not art-house. But for some people it can look rather slow – well, life is not a sprint itself!!!
    I haven’t seen two other russian movies, but MNE NE BOLNO ( I DO NOT HURT) has a good press , director who is very well appreciated in Venice and very good acting cast.

  • by Pedro Eggers - August 25, 2006, 5:36 pm

    Although it pains me to remind you all of this, Toronto *is* just a drive away. Something to keep in mind when you’re at the ticket booth plunking down your hard cash on Serge Losique’s filmfest. Yes, I’m saying it and yes, it makes me physically to say it but there is always the Toronto filmfest to consider. May hate the city, may hate their sports teams, may hate a lot of things about Toronto but when it comes down to putting on one killer filmfest I have to hand it to them, they friggin’ deliver. September 7th to the 16th is when it happens. Something for you all to consider.
    ~
    Now, back to our regularly scheduled filmfest…
    ~
    So, I take it at least a few of you have seen the movies being presented this year? Impressed yet? When they say this was about volume and not depth they weren’t kidding. Sure, there’s a few docs and features I’ve circled down but in looking back through my previous programs and tickets stubs (I’m a packrat and am currently in the hell of house cleaning) and I noticed that there’s less that I want to see this year than last and so forth and so forth. Look, I could piss on Losique for acting like an arrogant dick but that’s hardly productive, is it? Skim through the website and the catalogue yourself and see what tickles your fancy. Another weak year for the FFM but it’s got a few, and I do mean few, projects worth checking out.

  • by Eric Bertrand - August 28, 2006, 3:35 pm

    I’ve looked through the movies in the FFM guide and they sound all right but compared to the Toronto it just doesn’t have the same weight. I guess this is the only major film fest we have (hard to count all the other ones as mainstream) so I don’t want to hate it but I don’t find myself loving it.

  • by Shira Katz - August 29, 2006, 11:30 am

    It’s really cool that so many films are being shown, many for free, but the problem is, if the language of the film is neither French nor English, then should the subtitles be in French or in English (keeping in mind that the festival attracts tourists who are more likely to speak English than French)? Secondly, if the film is in French, then should the subtitles be in English, so that both French and English speaking populations could enjoy the film? Finally, if a French film is screened for free at Place des Arts, and the organizers do not want to add English subtitles, then I think that even having French subtitles would be better than none at all, because sometimes the characters have strong accents that sound muffled to people who are unfamiliar with them. Subtitles are also very helpful for people with hearing difficulties, which makes sense in a city like Montreal which has a large number of elderly people. In addition, at an outdoor event, there is a lot of background noise so it is easy to miss out on some important lines if there are no subtitles.

  • by Mark St Pierre - August 29, 2006, 6:53 pm

    Well, it looks like our World Film Fest will keep plodding along without any of the fanfare, major premieres, or schmoozing and star-gazing that is part and parcel of Toronto’s more expansive and grandiose fest. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t some diamonds in the rough, it just means that you have to scour a little more to avail yourself of them. Having said that, this fest has been leaving casual local movie fans cold for some time and this year’s offerings and distinct lack of star-power will do little to change that.

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