This year's 31st edition of the Montreal World Film Festival is well under way with plenty of feature films, documentaries and short films to see. Even though the festival organizers have had their share of ups and downs with this festival, it is still a cool place to see films that you would otherwise not get to check out.
Let's begin with homegrown talent. Canadian films certainly have their share of representation on this year's list. "Love …And Other Reasons To Panic" by Alberto Diamante is a quirky romantic comedy about a young woman named Sarah and her childhood friend Alex. After high school, they go their separate ways and eventually meet up again at a party. By then, Sarah is into new age stuff like healing with crystals, balancing her chakras and meditation. Her boyfriend, a stand-up comedian/ script doctor, is critical of her choices, which causes friction between the couple. This film is not your typical Hollywood love story. It's quite unique to say the least and has some really funny moments. "All The Days Before Tomorrow," a co-production (Canada-USA) by Francois Dompierre is also a good pick (check our full review in the movie section).
There are some interesting documentaries at the festival as well. "The Dalai Lama Renaissance" by Kashyar Darvich is worthwhile seeing. The documentary gives viewers an inside look into the meeting between 40 prominent Western thinkers and The Dalai Lama, which took place before the new millenium. He invited them to discuss world issues but instead some of them were just so lost in their own egos and were clashing with others instead of working together on practical solutions. The highlight of the documentary is, of course, The Dalai Lama. Whenever he is on screen, he is truly inspiring. Along with his contagious smile, it is great to see how he lives and hear his views about the state of the world.
Another notable documentary is "Running With Arnold" by Dan Cox. It traces the famous actor's rise to fame and his political career so far. The director has pieced together a fast paced tabloid style documentary, which will definitely hold your attention from beginning to end. It is really astonishing to see how Arnold has managed to maintain his image throughout the scandals, the treachery, manipulation and most of all, his art of spinning the facts in public and the media.
Asian films are always plentiful at the festival although fans of Indian cinema will be disappointed that there is next to nothing from "Bollywood," which is known as the largest film industry in the world (as far as number of releases per year). "Pruning The Grapevine" by Ming Boung-huh, a South Korean entry is interesting and engaging yet there is just too much going on that as it progresses, storylines seem scattered and then do not get properly concluded. In official competition, Japan offers "Kuro-Obi" by Sunichi Nagasaki, which is a film about three men who are experts in martial arts and the twists that their lives take.
There are still plenty of movies to see. You have until September 3rd, 2007. Enjoy!
photos courtesy Sylvain Legare