The 23rd edition of the Montreal International Documentary Festival (RIDM for its French acronym) just ended at the beginning of this month, as expected, it was an online event. A total of 109 films from 45 countries, were presented over three weeks in what the organizers called “an undeniable success.” Besides the exhibition of movies, several workshops, forums, and conferences with the participation of more than one hundred professionals took place.
In the competitive sections of the festival, 40 documentaries were vying for the various awards. The Grand Prize for Best International Feature went to “Aswang” by Alyx Ayn Arumpac, a Philippines-Denmark-France-Germany coproduction. In the words of the Festivals’ Bruno Dequen “The Aswang is one of the most terrifying creatures in Filipino mythology. By choosing it as the title for her first feature film, a courageous look at the Duterte government’s ultra-repressive drug policy, Alyx Ayn Arumpac makes her purpose clear. A work of uncompromising activism and talented filmmaking backed by a clear vision, the film highlights the violence and tragedies experienced by the many witnesses Arumac meets. The effect is underscored by many nighttime shots, which create an oppressive urban aesthetic. The deliberate cruelty of the images makes the film an unforgettable cri du coeur from an enraged citizen who can no longer bear to see her people suffer under the yoke of an authoritarian regime. A cinematic gut-punch.”
The Special Jury Prize International Feature went to “Iwow: I Walk on Water” by Khalik Allah. The Jury described it as “a film that tenderly depicts and observes an intense neighbourhood in New York City. It’s an intimate and transcendent portrait of events both inside and outside the frame, of the people being filmed and the person filming. A film that feels like a very long and powerful dub session with a superb echo chamber.”
The Grand Prize for National Feature was awarded to “Inconvenient Indian” by Michelle Latimer. In the words of the Jury: “a film that takes an unapologetically modern look at history, in which the director strikes a majestic balance between her subject and a bold art form. It is a film that acknowledges the countless stories that Indigenous artists have to tell. A work with an innovative visual pace that brilliantly creates a symphony of thrilling voices. It is a film that extends a hand and calls us to take action, by asking us to examine our actions past, present and future.”
In the same category, a Special Mention was awarded to “The Forbidden Reel” by Ariel Nasr. The People’s Choice Award went to “Little Girl” by Sébastien Lifshitz (France).
The Festival organizers have already announced that the 24th annual RIDM will take place in November 2021.
Feature image: “Aswang” a powerful film directed by Alyx Ayn Arumpac and set in Duterte’s Philippines won the Grand Prize for International Feature