Focus on Festivals

Docs at Montreal’s Festival du Nouveau Cinéma

Montreal’s Festival du Nouveau Cinéma offers a strong slate of documentaries year amidst an impressive showcase for world cinema. The festival, now in its 44th edition, screens an impressive total of 43 docs. (13 shorts and 31 feature films.) The non-fiction front at FNC has something for everyone with films about films playing alongside hot-button topics and with new offerings from Canadian filmmakers programmed with new docs from master filmmakers from around the world.

Highlights among the documentaries screening at Montreal’s Festival du Nouveau Cinéma are:

Heart of a Dog
Dir. Laurie Anderson | 2015 | USA | 75 min.
Programme: Compétition Internationale

This latest film from Laurie Anderson (Home of the Brave) is a formally ambitious and dexterously layered meditation on love and loss. Her new essay film Heart of a Dog explores her close relationship with her late dog Lolabelle, who died in 2011 following the deaths of several human members of Anderson’s family. What begins as a fond poem for a departed friend evolves into a greater reflection on post-9/11 paranoia and the collective loss it entails. A must see for anyone who dares to be different. (Check back soon for the POV review.)

Wild Salmone
Dir. Al Pacino | 2011 | USA | 90 min.
Programme: Présentation Spéciale

Montréal audiences get a double treat with the long-awaited presentation of Al Pacino’s Salomé starring Jessica Chastain. Salomé, which also screens at the FNC, is Chastain’s first major role and was shot before her breakout work in 2011’s trifecta of The Help, Take Shelter, and Tree of Life. Chastain’s prolific career is impressive, but Pacino’s own feat of directing a 2006 stage play of Oscar Wilde’s Salomé, the stage-to-screen adaptation, and a documentary about the creative process is an equally monumental feat. This behind-the-scenes doc shows Pacino’s passion in full force.

Other notable films about filmmakers at FNC include Sembene!-, This is Orson Welles, and the Canadian Premiere of Fassbinder — To Love Without Demands.

Dir. Fanny Jean-Noël | 2015 | France | 75 min.
Programme: Panorama

Among the documentaries having their World Premiere at the Festival du Nouveau Cinéma is Move! From director Fanny Jean-Noël. This dance films offers a truly global scope as the filmmaker captures rhythms from around the world. She travels to Africa, Morocco, New Zealand, France, Chile, and India and captures the different ways in which people move to the beat—and the same moves that unite us.

The Randy and Eva Quaid Compilation
Dir. Mathieu Grondin | 2015 | Canada | 80 min.
Programme: Focus

FNC spotlights a number of stories from Canadian and Québécois filmmakers in its Focus sidebar. One film having its World Premiere in Focus is Mathieu Grondin’s documentary about the peculiar case in which Hollywood actor Randy Quaid (National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation) fled the USA with his wife Eva, seeking asylum from “Hollywood whackers” who allegedly bumped off Heath Ledger, David Carradine, Chris Penn, and other actors. Grondin’s film chronicles the Quaid’s reappearance in 2015 after their request for asylum was denied. Whether this strange story is truth or fiction is ultimately up to viewers.

Other Canadian documentaries screening at FNC include the Hot Docs hit The Sandwich Nazi by Lewis Bennett, Chienne de vie by Hélène Choquette, Transfixed by Alan Kol, and the TIFF 2015 selection Ninth Floor by Mina Shum. (Read the POV feature on Mina Shum here.) Celebrity seekers will also want to check out the strange but true story of basketball star Dennis Rodman in Dennis Rodman’s Big Bang in Pyongyang.

Poet on a Business Trip
Dir. Ju Anqi | 2015 | China| 103 min.

The world cinema front of FNC includes the North American Premiere of Ju Anqi’s Poet on a Business Trip. This film charts a new frontier of China as a young poet named Shu visits the autonomous region of Xinjuang, whose name literally means ‘new frontier’. The film shapes a road movie with poetry and realism as Anqi uses Shu’s poetry to meditate on China’s transition. The film takes audiences to the China they don’t normally see in film and asks how own can represent a country that struggles to represent itself.

Other programming highlights from this year’s FNC include Tsai Ming-Liang’s Afternoon, Kazuhiro Sôda’s Oyster Factory, Manoel De Oliveira’s La visite ou mémoires et confessions, and Erik Shirai’s The Birth of Saké.

*This year’s Festival du Nouveau Cinéma screens in Montreal from Oct. 7-18.
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