The 26th Edition of the Montreal World Film Festival (Aug. 22-Sept. 2) boasted over 400 films from 75 countries, including 248 world premieres, 214 feature films, and 159 short films. Of those, there were 25 Canadian features. In all, 26 international films were slated for Official Competition status.
The international star list included Robert De Niro (starring in City By The Sea) and Gerard Depardieu (in Aime Ton Pere) whose press relations styles are diametrically opposed: De Niro is press shy in contrast to Depardieu's erudite courtship of the media. However, the fans that showed up in droves didn't seem to mind. As well, producer/director Luc Besson was honoured for his achievements in the world of cinema.
Of the hundreds of films screened this year, here are some standouts from the official competition to watch for in the coming months.
The Best Day Of My Life (Italy)–Cristina Comencini's dramedy on the unraveling of a family's secrets.
Casomai (Italy)-The unfolding of a relationship amidst the pressures and conflicts of family, friends, and a chaotic urban life.
Blue Car (US)-Director Karen Moncrieff peers into the complex world of a teenage girl looking for comfort in the arms of a trusted adult father figure.
The Deserted Station (Iran)-A car accident in a remote village in Iran sparks a teacher's emotional involvement in the children and community there. Directed by Alireza Raisian and inspired by fellow Iranian helmer Abbas Kiarostami.
Heavenly Grassland (China)-Artful cinematography and a heartfelt drama grace Sai Fu and Mai Lisi's tale about a mute Han boy abandoned by his parents to his future fate in the Mongolian grasslands.
I Am Dina (Norway)-Slated to be the Norwegian film of the year (with a 16 million (US) budget and international cast) filmed as an English-language European co-production, Ole Bornedal's gothic drama of feminist awakening has already lured an audience of 300,000 Norwegians to the cinema.
Igby Goes Down (US)-Burr Steer's American indie take on a dysfunctional adolescent and his misadventures with oddball New Yorkers.
In Nowhereland (Turkey)-Based on current political intrigues in Turkey, director Tayfun Pirselimoglu investigates the fictional story of a mother searching desperately for her disappeared son, fearing he faces the same fate as her Kurdish political prisoner husband.
The Last Train (Uruguay-Spain-Argentina)-Three septuagenarians and a boy hijack a train to prove a point in Diego Arsuaga's witty morality yarn.
Serafin, The Lighthousekeeper's Son (Croatia)-Vicko Ruic's atmospheric historical metaphor of a disillusioned boy's life reflecting the decline of the Austrian-Hungarian empire.
Salome (Spain)-Carlos Saura continues his string of successful dance films with this compellingly-lensed biblical ballet.
The Stoneraft (Netherlands-Spain)-George Sluizer, best known for The Vanishing, weaves an altogether different magical parable about human relations and geographic calamity.
The War (Russia)-Alexei Balabanov's Chechnyan war drama questioning the nature of corrupt military tactics.
The following upcoming films also deserve audience attention. Heaven — from German wunderkind Tom Tykwer; Rabbit-Proof Fence–Phillip Noyce's slice of Aboriginal abuse by Australian whites; Aime Ton Pere– Jacob Berger's drama of a troubled father-son relationship starring real-life duo Gerard and Guillaume Depardieu; Kedma– Amos Gitai's bipolar controversial take on the nucleus of the Arab-Israeli conflict; Vajont–a re-creation of the fatal destruction of the Italian reservoir in 1963; Invincible–Werner Herzog's tale of a Jewish strongman working in 1930's Nazi Germany; The Bankers of God-The Calvi Affair-the dramatic account of the Calvi scandal that rocked Italy in 1982; Go-the adolescent turmoil of a Korean youth born in Japan; Red Satin-a lonely widow breaks into the exotic world of Tunisian belly dancers; Various Positions-a Jewish law student's life is disrupted by his affair with a non-Jewish woman.
Montreal World Film Festival Awards
Best Film: The Best Day Of My Life (Italy)
Special Grand prix of the Jury: In Nowhereland (Turkey)
Best Director: Sophie Marceau (Parlez-Moi D'Amour)
Best Actress: Maria Bonnevie (I Am Dina), Leila Hatami (The Deserted Station)
Best Actor: Alexei Chadov (The War)
Best Screenplay: The Last Train (Diego Arsuaga)
Air Canada People's Choice Award: I Am Dina (Ole Bornedal), Salome (Carlos Saura)
Telefilm Canada Best Canadian Film Chosen By the Public: La Turbulence des Fluides (Manon Briand)