Doc­u­men­tary fes­ti­val fea­tures 157 films

Montreal Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - Tdun­levy@post­ twit­­levy

Doc­u­men­tary cinema is alive and well in Que­bec, as ev­i­denced by the 157 films in the 21st Ren­con­tres in­ter­na­tionales du doc­u­men­taire de Mon­tréal (RIDM), which opened Thurs­day and con­tin­ues through Nov. 18.

Of those, 50 — nearly a third — are by Que­bec di­rec­tors; and 81 — more than half — are di­rected by women, mak­ing RIDM one of our city’s most gen­der-eq­ui­table film fes­ti­vals.

Far from the stuffy, talk­ing­head stereo­type of doc­u­men­taries of old, to­day’s doc­u­men­tary cinema is a chance to ex­pe­ri­ence the world in new ways. With that in mind, here are 10 es­sen­tial events at this year’s RIDM.


(Satur­day, Nov. 10, 2 p.m., French sub­ti­tles; Mon­day, Nov. 12, 6:45 p.m., English sub­ti­tles; both at Cinéma du Parc, 3575 Parc Ave.)

Mon­treal­ers Sha­hab Mi­han­doust and Ar­i­ane Lor­rain travel to western Iran to doc­u­ment the dis­ap­pear­ing prac­tice of nat­u­ral yarn dye­ing and car­pet weav­ing. An ob­ser­va­tional film re­veal­ing the plight and artistry of tra­di­tional crafts­peo­ple con­fronting their own ex­tinc­tion in the face of in­dus­tri­al­iza­tion.


(Satur­day, Nov. 10, 5 p.m., Mon­treal Mu­seum of Fine Arts, Cinéma du musée, 1379A Sher­brooke St. W., English sub­ti­tles; Thurs­day, Nov. 15, 8:30 p.m., Ciné­math­èque québé­coise, 335 de Maison­neuve Blvd. E., French sub­ti­tles)

Que­bec direc­tor Joseph Hil­lel pro­files four dis­tin­guished fe­male ar­chi­tects: Phyl­lis Lam­bert (Mon­treal), Blanche Lemco van Ginkel (Mon­treal/Toronto), Cor­nelia Hahn Ober­lan­der (Van­cou­ver) and Denise Scott Brown (Philadel­phia/L.A./Las Ve­gas). The bind­ing ele­ment be­tween these women is a de­sire to re­think ur­ban de­sign.


(Satur­day, Nov. 10, 8:30 p.m., Cinéma du Parc, French sub­ti­tles; Fri­day, Nov. 16, 8:30 p.m., Ciné­math­èque québé­coise, English sub­ti­tles)

The news cy­cle abounds with sto­ries of young peo­ple re­cruited by ex­trem­ists, go­ing off to fight for the Islamic State. Que­bec direc­tor Julien Fréchette finds and fol­lows four west­ern­ers who head to Syria for the op­po­site rea­son: to fight against ISIS. Among them are Wali, who is Québé­cois, and Han­nah, from B.C. Though their mo­ti­va­tions are var­ied, his sub­jects have one thing in com­mon: they get more than they bar­gained for.


(Thurs­day, Nov. 15, 8:45 p.m., Ciné­math­èque québé­coise, English sub­ti­tles)

Mon­treal film­mak­ing cou­ple Hind Benchekroun and Sami Mer­mer con­tinue to ex­plore their roots with their lat­est doc­u­men­tary. She is Moroc­can, he is Turk­ish; in Xalko, they travel to Mer­mer’s birth­place, a Kur­dish vil­lage in the heart of Turk­ish Ana­to­lia, in­hab­ited mostly by women (the men have all left). A por­trait of fe­male re­silience on the flip side of mi­gra­tion, among those who re­main be­hind.


(Sun­day, Nov. 11, 5:30 p.m., Cinéma du Parc; Wed­nes­day, Nov. 14, 8:30 p.m., Ciné­math­èque québé­coise; both with English sub­ti­tles)

Mon­trealer Mika Good­friend doc­u­ments mi­gra­tion of a dif­fer­ent sort: the an­nual pil­grim­age of more than 1,800 Que­bec re­tirees to the Breezy Hill RV Re­sort, in the Sunshine State, where they lounge about, soak up some rays and gen­er­ally en­ter­tain them­selves. Good­friend blended in with res­i­dents for two six-month stints, re­sult­ing in this af­fec­tion­ate 45-minute film. (The screen­ings are com­bined with two other short/medium-length docs.)


(Mon­day, Nov. 12, 8:30 p.m., Ciné­math­èque québé­coise, French sub­ti­tles; Thurs­day, Nov. 15, 9 p.m., Cinéma du Parc, English sub­ti­tles)

Is­raeli-Amer­i­can ex­pat Danae Elon, now based in Mon­treal, fore­goes her pen­chant for pol­i­tics in this in­ti­mate por­trait of two Is­raeli sis­ters, one of whom joined a con­vent in Greece af­ter high school. Years later, her younger si­b­ling goes to visit, hop­ing to bring her big sis­ter home.


(Fri­day, Nov. 16, 8:30 p.m., Quartier Latin, 350 Émery St., French sub­ti­tles)

Jean-Ni­co­las Orhon hung around con­duc­tor Yan­nick Nézet-Séguin and Mon­treal’s Orchestre Métropoli­tain for a year as they pre­pared to em­bark on their first Eu­ro­pean tour. A be­hind-the-scenes look at re­hearsals, mo­ti­va­tions and com­mu­ni­ca­tion be­tween the mem­bers of this ac­claimed col­lec­tive.


(Satur­day, Nov. 17, 3:30 p.m., Grande Bi­b­lio­thèque, 475 de Maison­neuve Blvd. E.)

Mark Ach­bar and the late Mon­treal doc­u­men­tar­ian Peter Win­ton­ick’s clas­sic 1992 por­trait of Amer­i­can thinker Noam Chom­sky is re­vis­ited as part of a col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween RIDM and the Doc­u­men­tary Or­ga­ni­za­tion of Canada, which is cel­e­brat­ing its 35th an­niver­sary. Chom­sky’s thought­ful cri­tiques of main­stream me­dia’s role in world pol­i­tics are as res­o­nant as ever.


(Satur­day, Nov. 17, 7 p.m., Con­cor­dia’s Alumni Au­di­to­rium, 1455 de Maison­neuve Blvd. W., Room H-110, English sub­ti­tles; Sun­day, Nov. 18, 2 p.m., Cinéma Mod­erne, 5150 St-Lau­rent Blvd., French sub­ti­tles)

The worlds of ten­nis and au­teur cinema in­ter­twine in RIDM’s clos­ing film, a highly in­ven­tive work nar­rated by ac­tor Mathieu Amal­ric. French direc­tor Julien Fa­raut finds a gold mine in the 16 mm footage of the 1984 French Open be­tween McEnroe and Ivan Lendl, shot by Gil de Ker­madec, for­mer na­tional tech­ni­cal direc­tor of French ten­nis.


RIDM pays tribute to the Brazil­ian direc­tor with a ret­ro­spec­tive. Ramos has spent her ca­reer ex­plor­ing the po­lit­i­cal power of cinema, most re­cently in 2018’s O Pro­cesso (The Trial, Satur­day, Nov. 10, 2:30 p.m., Quartier Latin), ex­am­in­ing the le­gal pro­ceed­ings that led to the im­peach­ment of Dilma Rouss­eff, Brazil’s first demo­crat­i­cally elected woman pres­i­dent, in 2016. In ad­di­tion to the ret­ro­spec­tive, Ramos gives a free mas­ter class Satur­day, Nov. 10 at 12:30 p.m. at the Ciné­math­èque québé­coise.


Zagros re­veals the plight and artistry of Ira­nian crafts­peo­ple whose trade is dis­ap­pear­ing.

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