Montreal World Film Festival: From a condemned war hero to an unlucky lottery winner
By Sergio Martinez – mtltimes.ca
The 39th edition of the Montreal World Film Festival (WFF) has started this Thursday with the screening of the opening film “Muhammad” by Iranian director MajidMajidi. Since on this occasion the WFF decided not to schedule advanced screenings for the press and given that for deadline constrains we haven’t been able to actually see any of the movies in any of the categories, the next best thing one can do is to examine the current information about some of the movies that will be shown during the first two days of the festival and indicate our interest based solely on that information which includes the theme of the film and the director’s previous work and artistic background.
The WFF contains a number of sections, the most important one of course is the Official Competition in which the winning film gets the prestigious Grand Prize of the Americas, then there are the First Feature Competition, the Out of Competition section “dedicated to experienced filmmakers, this selection offers the latest works by some of the best known directors from around the world” according to WFF President Serge Losique, the Documentary section, Focuson World Cinema section, featuring movies from all continents, special sections highlighting the cinemas of specific countries, this year China and Korea, and then the traditional Student Festival open to film schools from all of Canada.
One of the films in the Official Competition that has caught our attention is “On the Road to Berlin” by Russian director Sergei Popov set in the summer of 1942 when young lieutenant Ogarkov, a communication officer, failed in his important mission to convey a message to another army division which results in a serious setback for the Soviets. He is then court-martialed and sentenced to death, under the surveillance of a soldier and amid the confusion of the war the execution order doesn’t materialize and he and his guard are now in the middle of the action battling the Germans. During all that period he comes to be regarded as a hero however the execution order was never rescinded… (This film is being shown: Sunday August 30, 2015 – 11:30 AM – Cinema Imperial and Sunday August 30, 2015 – 4:30 PM – Cinema Imperial)
The WFF is also a good opportunity to see Canadian movies that most likely we won’t see later, “End of Days, Inc.” is a movie by McGill graduate Jennifer Liao which is presented in the Focus on the World Cinema section: “It’s the last day of business before Godfrey Global Inventory shuts down for good, and the enigmatic Mr. Godfrey and his officious sister Esther invite the company’s downtrodden staff to a farewell party where they are to receive their final paycheques. Instead, they are bribed into working one last night, only to discover that processing the last of their inventory may lead to cataclysmic consequences.” (Sunday August 30, 2015 – 10:30 AM – Cinema Quartier Latin 9 and Monday August 31, 2015 – 12:00 PM – Cinema Quartier Latin 9).
Fans of British director Peter Greenaway should be pleased to know that his movie “Eisenstein in Guanajuato” a very personal view of what the famous Soviet director could have done after a stay in Hollywood and then his move to Mexico in 1931 to work on a project than in the end never took off, Eisenstein’s film on the Mexican Revolution to be titled “Que Viva Mexico!” In Greenaway own words: “Eisenstein’s sensual Mexican experience appears to have been pivotal in his life and film career—a significant hinge between the early successes of ‘Strike’, ‘Potemkin,’ and ‘October,’ which made him a world-renowned figure, and his hesitant later career with ‘Alexander Nevsky,’‘Ivan the Terrible’ and ‘The Boyar’s Plot.’”(Monday August 31, 2015 – 8:00 PM – Cinema Quartier Latin 12 and Tuesday September 1, 2015 – 11:30 AM – Cinema Quartier Latin 12).
From Argentina and in the Focus on World Cinema section, comes “Cómoganarenemigos” (“How to Make Enemies”) by Gabriel Lichtman: “Lucas, a modest, young Jewish lawyer with a penchant for detective stories, meets the beautiful Barbara in a café. Sexy, independent, and with good taste in literature, she seems perfect, and Lucas, enthralled, takes her home after their first date. Things aren‘t always what they seem, however, and Lucas wakes up to find his financial savings, and Barbara, gone. Determined to find her, Lucas sets off like the hero in one of his beloved books, and, as he pieces together the puzzle of the grand theft, realizes that his closest allies may be his biggest foes.” (Sunday August 30, 2015 – 07:30 PM – Cinema Quartier Latin 16 and Monday August 31, 2015 – 02:00 PM – Cinema Quartier Latin 16).
And for those looking from something quite different, a Spanish film by GraciaQuerejetamay seem very appropriate: “Felices 140” (“Happy 140”), selected for the Official Competition, tells the story of Elia who invites a few relatives and friends to a fancy house in the countryside. She has good news to tell them: she has just won the 140-million-euro jackpot in the lottery. But contrary to what one can expect, from that moment on her fortunes will change for the worst. Jonathan Holland (from “Hollywood Reporter”) wrote: “One of Spain’s foremost female directors, GraciaQuerejeta has a reputation for spearing the hypocrisies of the Spanish middle class via solid, quietly-spoken, character-based dramas… (Here she) has assembled one of the best possible casts which Spanish cinema can provide to create this gang of morally disgusting individuals, though all the actors have the ability to suggest that their moral disgustingness is comprehensible.”(Sunday August 30, 2015 – 9:00 AM – Cinema Imperial and Wednesday September 2, 2015 – 9:30 PM – Cinema Imperial).
For more information about the WFF including complete schedule, venues, and ticket prices go to www.ffm-montreal.org