RIDM Announces First Five Titles

State of Exception

By Pat Mullen

The Montreal International Documentary Festival (RIDM) has announced its first five titles for this year’s festival. Among them is Jason O’Hara’s acclaimed State of Exception, which played at Hot Docs earlier this year and chronicles the intense climate in Rio de Janeiro leading up to the city’s hosting of the 2014 FIFA World Cup and 2016 Olympics. While surveying some of the Canadian highlights at this year’s festival, Ezra Winton singled out State of Exception as one of the standouts, writing, “The resilience of the filmmaker and subjects in this epic tale resonate as a testament to their long-term commitment to social justice.”

Also adding to the festival’s Canadian content is Guillaume Sylvestre’s DPJ, which observes the daily work of social workers at the province’s youth protection agency, the Direction de la protection de la jeunesse (DPJ).

The five films announced for RIDM so far are:

Dir. Timothy George Kelly
Brexitannia is a portrait of a democracy in all its impossible and ugly glory. With subtle force, yet without judgement, it presents the people of a once powerful empire as they negotiate their identities in a world that is changing faster than ever and in which power appears to lie further and further from people’s own hands.

Dir. Guillaume Sylvestre | Canada
An unflinching look at Quebec’s Youth Protection Services (DPJ), the only government agency of its kind in the world. When the physical or psychological well-being of children is threatened, the provincial court can remove parents’ authority over their children, handing it over to the social workers of the DPJ. Shadowing several social workers in their work, DPJ goes behind closed doors to offer an intimate look at society’s dysfunctional side. The filmmaker spent several months as an observer at the DPJ, and then a year filming, alone, with a handheld camera, in the tradition of cinéma-vérité. Through raw footage that has never before been captured, and was little altered, the spectator walks a tightrope along with characters facing an often inescapable fate.Every day, these social workers must make agonizing decisions that can have an irreversible impact on the lives of children and their families. This results in daily conflicts between heart and mind, and in the tense, complex

The Reagan Show
Dir. Pacho Velez and Sierra Pettengill | USA
Ronald Reagan changes the presidency with his focus on public image and use of film crews that continually document his movements.

Speak Up/Make Your Way (Ouvrir la voix)
Dir. Amandine Gay | France
Speak Up/Make Your Way is a film about francophone European black women from the diaspora. The film will therefore focus on our common experience of discriminations related to those two indistinct dimensions of our identities : “woman” and “black”. The film will deal with the intersections of discriminations, art, blackness in all its expressions and why we choose to reclaim the narrative about ourselves.

State of Exception
Dir. Jason O’Hara | Canada
As Rio de Janeiro prepares to host the 2014 FIFA World Cup and 2016 Olympics, a community of self-described “urban Indians” are threatened with forced eviction to make way for a stadium named after the original indigenous inhabitants of the territory. As the mega-events begin threatening a number of other communities with displacement, residents unite to fight back in defense of their constitutional rights, temporarily suspended under a “state of exception”. This character driven story was filmed over the course of 6 years, utilizing production protocols that combine observational verité with participatory documentary practices and citizen journalism.

RIDM runs Nov. 9-19.