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Montreal Festival of New Cinema Awards

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Festival of New Cinema awards – The 48th edition of the Festival du nouveau cinema (FNC) came to an end this past Sunday, and although this is not a competitive festival per se, since some time now it has been awarding prizes in various categories. In the International Competition, the main award, the Louve d’Or, went to the Russian film “Beanpole” directed by Kantemir Balagov and loosely based on the novel by the Nobel Prize-winning author Svetlana Alexievich’s “The Unwomanly Face of War.” Set in post-war Leningrad, the movie tells the story of “Iya (Viktoria Miroshnichenko), a nurse, and Masha (Vasilisa Perelygina), a soldier, are traumatized from the siege and its aftermath and struggling to rebuild their lives. The Russian title of Kantemir Balagov’s Beanpole, “Dylda,” suggests an awkwardness and lack of grace that is mirrored in the setting’s bombed-out streets, smashed tenements, and hospitals full of limbless veterans — and in its hapless yet tenacious protagonists.”

Festival of New Cinema
“Beanpole” a Russian drama won the Louve d’Or in the International Competition at teh FNC

Festival of New Cinema awards

The prize for best interpretation by an actor or actress was given to Ingvar E. Sigurðsson for his work in “A White White Day” directed by Hlynur Pálmason. Special mentions were given to Sandra Drzymalska and Claudio Segaluscio for their acting in “Sole” by Carlo Sironi. 

The Innovation Award –rewarding a film that is remarkable in its aesthetic audacity, its use of new technology, and an innovative approach to a sensitive subject– was given to “Divino amor” (“Divine Love”) by Gabriel Mascaro. A special mention was given to “Canción sin nombre” (“Song without a Name”) by Melina Leon. 

“The Body Remembers when the World Broke Open” won the National Competition award

In the National Competition category, the prize went to “The Body Remembers When the World Broke Open” directed by Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers and Kathleen Hepburn. The film tells the story of a woman’s decision to comfort a stranger she finds crying in the street, which leads to a revealing and powerful conversation between two indigenous women. The Prix de la diffusion offered by Quebecor went to “The Twentieth Century” by Matthew Rankin, an ironic look at the formative years of former Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King. 

Panels and conferences also took place during the Festival du nouveau cinéma

THE CRITIC’S VIEW

Choosing which were the best movies shown at the Festival of New Cinema in the opinion of this critic is not so easy. However, I would go for three that I hope will be released in theatres. “The Song of Names” by François Girard is a compelling story in which a talented violinist unexpectedly disappears just before a concert in London in 1951. The man, a Jew who as a child came to study and live with a gentile family in Britain just before the war, had lost contact with his family back in Poland. Years later, a friend of the violinist searches for the missing musician, and the events that his search unveils would be surprising.

“Adults in the Room” directed by Costa Gavras touches an entirely different subject.  In the very incisive way characteristic of this director and his niche genre: political drama– this film focuses on the 2015 financial crisis in Greece, and the treatment given to the Greeks at the time by its partners in the European Union, particularly Germany. The story is based on the memoirs of Greece’s former Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis. 

The third film that I consider one of the best at the FNC is “Guest of Honour” by Atom Egoyan. This is a well-structured story of family secrets and the complicated relationship between a father and his daughter.

As usual, the FNC was also a right occasion for filmmakers, producers, and moviegoers to exchange views on several panels and conferences. Next edition, October 2020.

By: Sergio Martinez – info@mtltimes.ca

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