Deprived of physical screenings due to the pandemic, the Festival du nouveau cinema was still able to mobilize many movie fans. Of course, this time, people were not lining up in front of a movie theatre, but sitting before a computer, watching this year’s selection online. Journalists covering the event were missing those nights at the Science Pavilion of the UQAM—headquarters of the FNC in past editions—where we engaged in animated discussions about some movies while enjoying a beer. COVID-19 has changed all that: movie theatres are closed, and film festivals are now delivered online. However, the prizes are still very real. Although the FNC must finish this weekend, awards in the various categories were already announced.
“Atlantis” directed by Valentyn Vasyanovych (Ukraine) won the prize in the International Competition category. I had the chance to see this film during the Toronto Festival last year where it was well-received by critics. Set in 2025, in Eastern Ukraine, the plot centres around Sergiy, a PTSD-afflicted ex-soldier wandering in the desolate place where the war has now finished, but where its scars in both the people and the land, are still visible. He meets Katya, a former student who is currently involved in the grisly task of exhuming corpses, if possible, identify them, and then give them a proper burial. Unintendedly, their encounter, seems to aim at finding some sense in all that chaotic environment. A sad reflection on war and the suffering it brings.
The prize for Interpretation went to Mary Twala Mhlongo, who plays Mantoa in “This is not a burial, it’s a resurrection” by Lemohang Jeremiah Mosese (Lesotho-Italy-South Africa coproduction). Mantoa is an old widow who, when “her son dies in an accident, she decides to make arrangements for her own funeral, but then she learns that a dam project will soon flood her land, forcing all the residents to resettle in the city. Determined to be buried alongside her people, Mantoa embarks on an act of peaceful rebellion.”
The Brazil-Portugal-Argentina coproduction “Extase” directed by Moara Passoni was awarded the prize in the Innovation category. This category includes films that introduce new elements in the cinematic language.
In the National Competition, the winner was the documentary “Judy vs. Capitalism” directed by Mike Hoolboom. The film focuses on the life of feminist and political activist Judy Rebick. According to Hoolboom, “she’s nothing less than a ‘living archive’ of her era’s activism and battles for the rights of all minorities and marginalized people, and an exceptional woman who has overcome deep personal traumas all her life.”
Other winning films were: “Sin la Habana” (“Without Havana”) by Kaveh Nabatian (Diffusion category); “Khamsin” by Grégoire Orio and Grégoire Couvert (New Alchemists category); “The Book of Distance” by Randall Okita (Horizons category); “O” by Qiu Yang (Panorama category); “À la mode” by Jean Lecointre (Films for Children); “Les enfants du large” by Virginia Tangvald (Opera Prima category); and “Last and First Men” by Jóhann Jóhannsson (International Critics Federation prize).
The FNC finishes on October 31. Last chance to see any film by going to.