Montreal International Documentary Festival

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4 December 2017

Canadians artist in the spolight

Montreal, Tuesday, October 31, 2017 – The Montreal International Documentary Festival (RIDM) is celebrating its 20th anniversary this November 9 to 19. Documentaries from Quebec and the rest of Canada have pride of place among the 47 countries represented in the program. Each festival section boasts a large selection of domestic productions.


The RIDM is proud to open this anniversary edition with the world premiere of 24 Davids by Céline Baril, the latest entry in the director’s unique and liberated body of work focusing on the essay form. In this thinking person’s road movie, she travels to three continents to listen to 24 people who are dedicated to changing and rethinking the world in their own particular way.


The 11 bold films in the Canadian feature competition are characterized by thoughtful visions, curiosity about inner lives and openness to the world.

13, un ludodrame sur Walter Benjamin (Carlos Ferrand) is a wildly original composite essay on the influence of the famous philosopher’s thinking. Other films in the competition have meditative and even dreamlike qualities: Cielo (Alison McAlpine) and La rivière cachée (Jean-François Lesage) invite viewers on poetic, scientific and spiritual journeys among stargazers and into an embracing, liberating forest respectively. The perspective is both journalistic and sensory in Les dépossédés (Mathieu Roy), an in-depth investigation that goes around the world to examine the food crisis from the small farmer’s point of view. And Destierros (Hubert Caron-Guay) takes us on an immersive journey alongside Latin American migrants with a gripping film and installation about the harsh realities of life in exile.

The other six Canadian films in the competition are portraits of fascinating people. Family tragedies are front and centre in Birth of a Family (Tasha Hubbard), which through heartbreaking reunions looks into the forced adoption of more than 20,000 indigenous children between 1955 and 1985, while Manic (Kalina Bertin) reconstructs a complex, dysfunctional family history. Les lettres de ma mère (Serge Giguère) is as much a lucid and poignant autobiography as the portrait of a woman who symbolizes Quebec’s rural and working class history. Portraits of different generations, both painful and happy, are the focus in Taming the Horse (Tao Gu), which follows a tormented young Chinese man experiencing alienation from hyper-capitalist society, while Primas by Laura Bari documents the lives of two young Argentinian women who are survivors of violence perpetrated by men. Lastly, Maison du bonheur (Sofia Bohdanowicz) is an affectionate and joyful portrait of an engaging and ebullient woman in her 70s.


This is the second year for this competition dedicated to Canadian short and medium-length films, aimed at recognizing and supporting the vitality of a too-seldom-seen form. With a diverse group of eight brilliant works, the 2017 selection is particularly fine. In the tradition of observational documentaries, La pesca (Pablo Álvarez-Mesa and Fernando López Escrivá) is a magnificent record of a day in the lives of a group of Colombian fishermen. The relationship with the ocean is also front and centre in Before the Wave (Molly Willows), a tribute to the threatened culture of the nomadic Moken people, and in La frontière (Félix Lamarche), a sensory work that’s equal parts science and poetry. Memories and missing memories of places are at the heart of Occupation of Memory (Jade Baxter) and Turtles Are Always Home (Rawane Nassif). From a more intimate perspective, In The Waves (Jacquelyn Mills) questions our relationship with nature and time. Lastly, two of the films make brilliant use of animation: The Talk: “True Stories About the Birds and the Bees” (Alain Delannoy) is a hilarious look at the inevitable parent-child discussion about sex, and Three Thousand (Asinnajaq (Isabella-Rose Weetaluktuk)) combines archival footage and dreamy visions into an impressive poem in tribute to her culture and land.

This section is presented by Télé-Québec.


This year’s special presentations include three Quebec-made films, all of which confront some of today’s most pressing issues. The 50th film by Alanis Obomsawin, Our People Will Be Healed, takes us inside an inspiring school for indigenous children in Manitoba. Two films explore human and ethical questions facing Quebec, with an investigation of the province’s child-protection service in DPJ by Guillaume Sylvestreand the moving testimonials of young immigrants in Bagages by Paul Tom.


The States of the World section presents deeply political works. This year the section includes three unabashedly activist Canadian films: Tomorrow’s Power by Amy Miller explores resistance to oppressive companies and governments; L’autre Rio by Émilie B. Guérette documents the sad fate of marginalized Rio de Janeiro residents in the shadow of the World Cup and the Olympics; and State of Exception by Jason O’Hara reveals indigenous people’s struggle to save their community.


Catherine Martin returns to documentary with an observational film about seven of her friends and their inspiring thoughts in Certains de mes amis; and The Devil’s Trap by Montrealer Mitchell Stafiej examines the highly secretive religious community of the Plymouth Brethren through a young man who was excommunicated at the age of 18. Lastly, Qu’importe la gravité is the cinematic debut of Québécois photographer Matthieu Brouillard in the form of a portrait of a remarkable friendship marked by mental illness and physical handicap.


This new section includes films focusing on specific communities and places. Nicolas Paquet visits some distinctively Québécois gathering places in Esprit de cantine and Charles Officer follows the political, poetic and artistic awakening of a black girl who emerges as the voice of her Toronto community in Unarmed Verses. 


This new section, focusing on the complex ties between people and work, includes the first Quebec-made feature by Zuzana Zelinova,an experienced producer and director originally from Slovakia. Edit&moi offers a touching, highly personal perspective on the daily lives of ageing immigrants.


The UXdoc section, presenting interactive and virtual experiences, includes Very Frustrating Mexican Removal (Fusun Uzun), which uses virtual reality to raise awareness about the fate of migrants detained at the Canadian border, and The Shore Line (Elizabeth Miller), a webdoc about the urgent issues affecting coastal areas.


9 free screenings in celebration of the democratization of documentary film

Every evening during the festival, there will be a free screening in an inspiring location in a different Montreal neighbourhood. The series will celebrate landmark films from past editions of the festival and encourage discussion of the works’ long-term impact. The program includes four Quebec-made documentaries for the public to discover or revisit, with their directors and/or crew members in attendance. S.P.I.T by Daniel Cross will be shown at the Écomusée du Fier Monde (Centre-Sud); Antoine by Laura Bari will screen at MaBrasserie (Rosemont); Junior by Isabelle Lavigne and Stéphane Thibault will be shown at the Musée des maîtres et artisans du Québec (Saint-Laurent); Mohawk Girls by Tracey Deer screens at the Saul Bellow Library (Lachine) and Bacon, le film by Hugo Latulippe at Chic Resto Pop (Hochelaga-Maisonneuve) with Roméo Bouchard in attendance.

The 20th anniversary free screenings are presented by Canal D.


Hosted by Patrick Masbourian, the third annual Soirée de la relève ICI RDI includes eight short documentaries by up-and-coming filmmakers. An award will be presented to one of them by a jury of Radio-Canada representatives and industry professionals. A great opportunity to see some excellent work by the next generation of filmmakers, for free.  

With the Désorienter la diaspora short-film program, the RIDM is joining forces with Media Queer to highlight the voices and creativity of Canadian racialized queer artists.

For the third year in a row, a public listening session will be held – a group listening experience without images, where sounds take shape and spark the imagination. The short piece Du gaz dans le sang by Éloïse Demers Pinard and Nicolas Lachapelle, first-prize winner in the Le réel à l’écoute competition, opens the event. An awards ceremony for the competition will follow the listening session, and the other two award winners will be played. The competition jury is composed of Anaïs Barbeau-Lavalette, Catherine Van Der Donckt, Tally Abecassis, Paul Charpentier and Cédric Chabuel.


In tribute to the late Michka Saäl, there will be a special evening including a free screening of her film China Me, presented in collaboration with the Cinémathèque québécoise.


Presented by the Canada Media Fund in collaboration with UQAM, the UXdoc space, in the Judith Jasmin Annexe building, will present works from the section of the same name along with productions from the webdocumentary portion of the RIDM’s youth program. An opportunity for everyone to explore OMG MTL !, the webdocumentary project produced by the RIDM and made by students at Eurêka high school in Park Extension.

At the RIDM’s headquarters (at the Cinémathèque québécoise), photographer Ulysse del Drago presents Regardeurs, a series of 20 portraits of documentary filmmakers taken in public.

Throughout the festival, listening stations will be available for children to listen to podcasts via the La puce à l’oreille platform.

Alongside the screening of Destierros (Hubert Caron-Guay), the RIDM is working with Galerie Dazibao, which will present a triple exhibition, Hillside Projects + Hubert Caron-Guay + Lisl Ponger, from October 19 to December 16.


In 2016, the Ford Foundation, the National Film Board and the Canadian Film Centre brought together Canadian indigenous artists and racialized artists from the U.S. South for a laboratory called Open Immersion, where the artists’ experiments led to prototypes exploring the responsibility and potential of virtual reality. At three sessions during the RIDM, participants will use their prototypes as a basis for discussing their artistic practices and the potential and challenges of the medium. Participants in the Open Immersion lab include Scott Benesiinaabandan, Danis Goulet, Nyla Innuksuk, Lisa Jackson, Elle-Maija Tailfeathers, Kai Barrow, Michaela Pilar Brown, Kimi Maeda, Tiona McClodden, Jacqueline Olive and RaMell Ross.


The Beat Dox Sessions return to RIDM headquarters with great concerts and inspired DJ sets. This year’s program, put together by Ouss Laghzaoui in partnership with well-known local music promoters and festivals like Arbutus, Blue Skies Turn Black, Pop Montréal, M pour Montréal and CISM, will showcase local talent. Everyone is welcome to come dance and party to the sounds of Moon King, Technical Kidman, JLK, Lonely Boa, Walrus, Doldrums and more.


Discover the best in documentary, take part in our year-round activities, and make the most of your festival!


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Discover the best in documentary, take part in our year-round activities, and make the most of your festival!

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Discover the best in documentary, take part in our year-round activities, and make the most of your festival!