Unless you’re a rampaging genre film fan, then the highlight of the Montréal cinephile calendar is undoubtedly the Festival du nouveau cinéma – running this year from October 8th until October 19th. I’ve had the opportunity to see a number of the films from the selection already and offer a few highlights to help you navigate the bountiful slate. You can already find my notes on Fires on the Plain (Shinya Tsukamoto) and Horse Money (Pedro Costa) here.
’71 (Yann Demange, UK)
This British thriller, set amongst the conflict in Ireland in the ’70s, couldn’t be any further from the austerity of Steve McQueen’s Hunger (2008). Rather, the film is more compelling than any Hollywood blockbuster released this summer, with a number of white-knuckle sequences that continue to surprise. The comparison to The Battle of Algiers (Gillo Pontecorvo, 1966) made by an audience member at the New York Film Festival is an apt one. An impressive achievement for a first-time filmmaker.
Bande de Filles (Girlhood, Céline Sciamma, France)
Céline Sciamma’s much-anticipated follow-up to Tomboy (2011) once again lends a voice to an underrepresented minority otherwise neglected in French cinema with this study of black high school girls in the Parisian banlieues. The film navigates race, gender and class most compellingly in scenes marked by overpowering music. You’ll never hear Rhianna’s “Diamonds” in the same way again, as these willful young women appropriate music video clichés and make them empowering.
Maps to the Stars (David Cronenberg, Canada)
Disclaimer: If you didn’t like Cosmopolis (2012), you probably will not like this one either. And rightly so, as Cronenberg boldly extends his American-scrutinizing, very contemporary inquiry into alienation to this starry ensemble piece. Don’t be fooled by the trailers which showcase Julianne Moore’s award-winning performance (she received Best Actress at Cannes in May) – we are left with no one and nothing to hold onto except except emanating malaise. What’s most scary is how accurately the film captures the emptiness of celebrity culture and modern human connection.
P’tit Quinquin (Li’l Quinquin, Bruno Dumont, France)
Dumont’s latest, structured as four episodes and originally intended for television, has gone on to become a festival circuit star following it’s unlikely selection for the Director’s Fortnight at Cannes. More than anything, the film (?) is a significant example of auteur television in which one voice is in control of serial storytelling. Further, the cinematic presentation differs from the television version in its framing (2:35 versus 1.78) and obviously, the audience. I saw it at home on a television (though with cinema framing) and found that the jokes and pacing became tedious. A favorite of Cahiers du cinéma and Cinema Scope, word is that it’s a blast with a crowd – so be sure check it out and report back to Grad/Aperture on its FNC reception!
Find the rest of the lineup on the festival’s official website here.