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