The POV Guide to RIDM 2014

With so many films to choose from the RIDM, it’s hard to know where to begin. Several films and filmmakers at the 2014 festival have been highlighted within the pages of POV, and we’ve compiled them here to help with your selection process. (All film synopses taken from the RIDM website.)

When Brandy Burre tries to relaunch a promising career that she had left behind after a role in The Wire, her settled life implodes. Playing the role of her life for us, she gives all of herself to the camera of Robert Greene (Fake It So Real). Alternating between straight observation and highly stylized sequences, Greene is fully aware that he is capturing a disturbing and memorable performance.

This unique documentary was programmed at the inaugural “Art of the Real” Festival in New York earlier this year. Christina Clarke surveyed the program for our Fall 2014 issue.

As the seasons pass, people and animals seem to watch each other. Bestiaire is a silent exploration of colliding, quiet and ineffable elements.

Adam Nayman wrote about director Denis Côté‘s 2013 film, Joy of Man’s Desiring, in this ensemble docs in our Hot Docs issue.

Fennario: the Good Fight
David Fennario, the great Quebec playwright (famous for Balconville, among others) and militant socialist is now confined to a wheelchair. But that has not dampened his will to take action and fight for progress. Martin Duckworth, a major figure in Canadian documentary cinema, captures all of his contradictory energy.

Martin Duckworth has been making a difference as a filmmaker for over 50 years – we take a look at his storied career with this late-2012 profile.

The Flying Stars
Focusing on Bornor, a star player in an amputee soccer league, The Flying Stars documents, but does not seek to simplify, the daily challenges facing young men broken by life, trying to overcome a cruel fate.

The Flying Stars is produced in part by Catbird Productions – read more about their innovative films here.

A high school in Gaspé: for a year, Jean-François Caissy observes private meetings involving certain troubled students. These moments of questioning, discussion and gentle reorientation are punctuated by scenes of daily life at school and outside it. Without over-dramatizing situations, and relying on impeccable composition and fluid, poetic editing, the filmmaker observes today’s youth with compassion and warmth.

Adam Nayman wrote about Guidelines and several other ensemble docs in our Hot Docs issue. “So effectively does Caissy disguise his own presence that some viewers may wonder exactly how he was able to enter into certain situations.”

Living Stars
An Argentinian dentist dances gleefully around his office to a Lionel Richie song. The fixed camera captures many more of his compatriots: children, housewives, narcissistic bachelors, retirees. All have their moment of glory set to the song of their choice. A brilliant appropriation of a certain web aesthetic, Living Stars is both a playful, mesmerizing odyssey and an original exploration of Argentinian society, because each dancer, filmed in their own work or home space, is identified by professional status.

Phil Brown says the film “takes all of five seconds to describe, but can’t really be comprehended until you see it for yourself.” Read the rest of his review from Hot Docs 2014 here.

The Look of Silence
The acclaimed and controversial documentary The Act of Killing (2012) shattered the silence surrounding the mass-murder of “communists” in Indonesia in the 1960s, by having the killers re-enact their crimes for the camera. Two years later, Joshua Oppenheimer returns with a companion piece (not a sequel per se) from the victims’ perspective.

Does Oppenheimer create a worthy follow-up to The Act of Killing? Find out by reading our review.

Kingdom of Dreams and Madness
My Neighbor Totoro, Princess Mononoke, Grave of the Fireflies… In more than 30 years since its founding, the Ghibli studio, set up by directors Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata, has produced some of the most acclaimed animated films of all time. Thanks to exceptional access to the studio (and Miyazaki’s home), Mami Sunada was able to film the creative hive’s workings for more than a year, while the two founders worked on The Wind Rises and The Tale of Princess Kaguya.

Read Patrick Mullen’s review of this “remarkable” documentary.

Trick or Treaty?
A year after Hi-Ho Mistahey!, Trick or Treaty? serves as another reminder that Alanis Obomsawin’s research and testimonial work are essential to understanding the complex relationship between aboriginal peoples and the Canadian state. Building on key events involving the Idle No More movement, the director focuses on the conditions surrounding the signing of the James Bay Treaty in 1905, an agreement that authorized the appropriation of aboriginal lands by the Ontario government.

Even in her eighties, Alanis Obomsawin shows no sign of slowing down. Read about her career and upcoming films in this recent POV profile by Kiva Reardon.

The Wanted 18
The Wanted 18 is an intelligent exploration of peaceful resistance from within, which led to further civil disobedience – the tax strike – during the first Intifada. Paul Cowan and Amer Shomali ingeniously and affectionately combine memories, archival footage and animation as they tell an important and extraordinary story.

Find out how the tricky balance between animation and live-action was bridged in our behind-the-scenes look at this truly original documentary.

That’s just a small selection of what you can discover – visit RIDM’s website for the complete listing of films. Happy watching!