Two youthful gems end the Montreal World Film Festival on a high note
For the dog days of both summer and the FFM, there is still a ton of movies to be discovered, many of which you’ll never have a chance to see again. At this seasoned festival, two vastly different stories about what it’s like to be young caught my attention.
Strangely, for such an arty festival, one of my favourite discoveries so far is a movie that might as well be at the multiplex. Greetings From the Shore is the first feature from Greg Chwerchak, an award-winning director of shorts and dozens of music videos for the likes of Britney Spears, Duran Duran, Destiny’s Child, Eminem, Snoop Dogg and System Of A Down. The movie is the perfect mainstream confection of a summer movie, executed without a hitch, and I have no idea what it’s doing at the FFM, but it’s a treat for anyone in the mood for a coming-of-age summer sweetheart flick.
The shore in question is the Jersey shore, Lavallette, to be specific, where teenaged Jenny comes to spend one last summer before going off to college. She’s mourning her recently deceased father and full of his dreams for her to have a better life. She quits her job at a beachside pizzeria for one at the swanky local yacht club, only to find herself knee-deep in a tax scam involving Russian sailors, illegal immigrants and a dark, mysterious hunk of a Cuban busboy named, supposedly, Patrick O’Malley.
Newcomer Kim Shaw plays Jenny as perky but smart, plucky but brittle and lonely, just as well as any Ashley Judd in Ruby in Paradise or Jennifer Grey in Dirty Dancing. This summer romance has legs, and it’s the lightest fare I’ve seen at the FFM in a while.
On the completely other side of youth is Baie d’Urfé-based documentarist Catherine Mullins’ Being Innu, a trenchant documentary about life in Northern Quebec and Labrador for a generation of Innu youth who are suffering the trans-generational trauma of the erosion of their traditional ways. Mullins speaks to six young people who tell her about their lives – about boredom, hopelessness, alcoholism, and the rash of suicides that has taken the lives of many of their friends and siblings.
In a sense, this story is a familiar one, and told in a familiar way – Mullins begins her story with a slow, methodical narration about the traditional nomadic ways of the Innu and how they became a stationary people in the 1960s, when the Canadian government forced them to stay in one place so that the children could go to school. Now, Mullins encounters the third generation of these children, most of whom don’t go to school, and instead are losing their hope for the future in lives of desperate stagnation. This is a film destined to end up on a TV, but you can see it in its original, longer version at the FFM.
Montreal World Film Festival
Until Sept. 3