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Montreal International Documentary Festival – This past weekend the Montreal International Documentary Festival ended with a congratulatory note: it was the largest event devoted to this movie genre ever held in this city. As on other occasions, the Documentary Festival was also an opportunity for local filmmakers and producers to exchange experiences with some guest colleagues. The event was also an occasion to demonstrate the good creative level of documentary-making in the country and in particular in this province.

“Room for a Man” won the Grand Prize at the Documentary Festival that ended this past weekend
“Taste of Cement” focuses on a Syrian refugee in Lebanon

The titles of the films that won awards in the different categories were also unveiled this weekend. The grand prize for the best international feature, went to “Room for a Man” directed by Anthony Chidiac (Lebanon-USA co-production). This film explores how a very conservative family in Lebanon deals with the issue of homosexuality. The Jury in its statement said: “The film opens doors and windows to an inner world that contains an entire private universe of deep meaning, broaching serious issues with wry humour and an irresistible rebellious spirit.” The special jury prize went to “Taste of Cement” by Ziad Kalthoum (Germany-Lebanon-Syria-United Arab Emirates-Qatar co-production). “For its bold artistic vision that seeks ways to involve film in social and political realities, its original creative approach and its exploration of the dark corners of exile,” the Jury wrote.

“Taming of a Horse” presents a critical view of Chinese youth

The prize for the Best Canadian Documentary Feature went to “Taming the Horse” by Tao Gu, which has been described as “a portrait of angry, alienated Chinese youth.” The Jury also awarded a special mention to “Primas” by Laura Bari, which is “a portrait of two girls who are facing the aftershocks of childhood drama together.” The special jury prize went to Jean-François Lesage for “La rivière cachée.” The Jury wrote: “for making a natural phenomenon a protagonist, and for the precision and elegance with which the film describes even ordinary existential issues.”

“L’Autre Rio” takes a different look at the Rio Olympics

There was also a prize for Best New Talent from Quebec/Canada which was awarded to Emilie B. Guérette for “L’autre Rio.” Shot at the time of the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in 2016, “the filmmaker documents the lives of families living on the margins. A story of resilience, delivered with great human warmth.”

The People’s Choice Award went to “Ouvrir la Voix” directed by Amandine Gay (France), which focuses on the lives of black women living in Europe at this time. For its part, the Magnus Isacsson award created in honour of the late, documentary filmmaker Magnus Isacsson, is presented to an up-and-coming Canadian director who demonstrates social conscience. On this occasion, the distinction went to Jason O’Hara for the film “State of Exception,” described by the Jury for the Magnus Isacsson Award as “a film that reveals its director’s exceptional commitment. An activist, passionate, necessary film, made entirely independently over many years.”

The 2018 edition of the Montreal International Documentary Festival should take place in November as usual. Those documentary filmmakers and producers interested in submitting a film must do it between March 1 and May 31, 2018, contact at info@ridm.ca

Feature image: “L’Autre Rio” takes a different look at the Rio Olympics

By: Sergio Martinez – mtltimes.ca

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