The Montreal International Documentary Festival (RIDM) enters its second week with many new films on offer. The festival will be held in theatres until November 21 and online until November 25 on the enligne.ridm.ca platform, accessible everywhere in Canada.
Masterclass and screenings attended by Vitaly Mansky
As part of his visit to Montreal until November 19, Vitaly Mansky will give a free masterclass (reservation required) on Wednesday, November 17 at 5 p.m. at the Cinémathèque québécoise. This second week of the festival is also an opportunity to revisit his filmography with a screening of seven of his films, five of which will be attended by the filmmaker. Full details of Vitaly Mansky’s visit to Montreal can be found on the dedicated retrospective page.
Local films not to be missed
Today, Monday, November 15, RIDM will be showing Dropstones, the first film by Toronto filmmaker Caitlin Durlak. Sonya, a mother who is retaking control of her life after a difficult relationship, returns with her two children to the picturesque island where she was born. The screening will be followed by a discussion with the filmmaker and the protagonist.
Showing on Tuesday, November 16, Stray Ducks by Bruno Chouinard follows the surreal and epic story of 90 rubber ducks that NASA dropped into Greenland’s glaciers as part of an experiment on climate change. The same day, zo reken by Emanuel Licha gives a view on the ground in Haiti, exposing the neocolonialism and paternalism inherent in the white “saviour” figure.
On Wednesday, November 17, Luke Gleeson’s DƏNE YI'INJETL | The Scattering of Man presents the perspectives of his community, the Tsay Keh Dene Nation, who continue to suffer the repercussions of a dam built by BC Hydro in 1968.
On Thursday, November 18, filmmaker Bogdan Stoica transports the viewer to Romania with They Sleep Standing. As they enter their thirties, three friends linger between fragility and discovery, facing the many uncertainties of life.
Friday, November 19 brings Sylvain L’Espérence’s latest project, Animal Macula, a rich and thought-provoking experience and a tribute to film as well as to animalkind; and La fin de Wonderland by Laurence Turcotte-Fraser, a first feature deftly interweaving intimacy and appearances in its portrait of Tara Emory, a trans photographer and pioneer of online erotic photography. The same day, RIDM presents Dear Audrey by Jeremiah Hayes. The film follows documentary filmmaker Martin Duckworth as he supports his wife, photographer and activist Audrey Schirmer, through the final stages of Alzheimer’s disease.
On Saturday, November 20, Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers sensitively turns the camera on her own community, the Kainai First Nation, in Kímmapiiyipitssini, The Meaning of Empathy, highlighting the community’s collective struggle to confront the opioid crisis and heal the wounds left by colonialism. Also on Saturday, Jenny Cartwright takes an inside look at Montreal’s Park Extension neighbourhood: Je me souviens d’un temps où personne ne joggait dans ce quartier captures the atmosphere of a richly diverse community, while at the same time, the relentless onset of gentrification threatens the social fabric of a neighbourhood.
International documentaries: A window on the world
Presented as part of the RIDM international program, Aleph by Iva Radivojević will be shown on Monday, November 15. The filmmaker, recognized for her masterful editing on A Machine to Live In (RIDM 2020), returns with a strange and delightful creation loosely inspired by the literary work of Jorge Luis Borges.
On Tuesday, November 16, Andrea Arnold (Fish Tank, American Honey) presents Cow, a first documentary that observes the bovine life cycle on an industrial dairy farm, focusing on one cow and her calves. Meanwhile, Eastwood by Alireza Rasoulinejad is a unique film that uses Clint Eastwood’s charismatic aura to explore the American cultural dominance that reaches as far as a remote Iranian city, revealing the modernity and diversity of Iranian society.
On Wednesday, November 17, film-lovers can enjoy Taming the Garden by Salomé Jashi, in which the forced migration of enormous trees to the private garden of a wealthy Georgian man brings up environmental, economic, and social issues. Showing the same day will be A Night of Knowing Nothing by Payal Kapadia, winner of the Œil d’Or (Golden Eye) award at Cannes. The film explores the student movement in India through the correspondence between two university students separated by the archaic caste system.
In Le dernier refuge by Malian filmmaker Ousmane Zoromé Samassékou, two teenagers heading north from Burkina Faso strike up a friendship with Natacha, a migrant several years their elder who is losing hope of ever seeing her home again. The Invisible Mountain by Ben Russell is a compelling philosophical journey exploring the possibilities of cinematic language. Both films will be shown on Saturday, November 18.
Friday, November 19 sees Shengze Zhu’s A River Runs, Turns, Erases, Replaces unfold in the filmmaker’s hometown of Wuhan. It is a kind of urban symphony, a powerful film in which the inevitability of change echoes the current global pandemic. Apenas el sol by Paraguayan filmmaker Arami Ullón focuses on the Elders of an Indigenous community. Forced out of the forests they once called home, they now live on arid land that is incompatible with their way of life.
To look out for on Saturday, November 20, Brotherhood by Francesco Montagner (Pardo d'oro, Locarno 2021) is filmed over a period of four years and explores the lives of three Bosnian brothers. As they transition into adulthood, things become complicated when their authoritarian father, a war veteran, is sentenced to two years in prison for terrorism. The First 54 Years - An Abbreviated Manual for Military Occupation by Avi Mograbi, meanwhile, breaks down the mechanics behind the occupation of the Palestinian territories, in the form of a manual.
Short and medium length competition films
Screening this week as part of the national short and medium length film competition, Love-moi by Romane Garant Chartrand steps inside the world of a teenage girl for whom seduction and self-image play a central role. In Babushka, filmmaker Kristina Wagenbauer delves into her past in an attempt to reconnect with her grandmother during a stay in her native Russia. Charles Duquet, winner of the Prix de la Relève in 2019, returns to RIDM with Sous la montagne endormie, an intimate work of great artistic maturity that looks at how his parents’ relationship has eroded over time. Also not to be missed, Wash Day by Kourtney Jackson is a first step toward healing and liberating the present from centuries of patriarchy, white supremacy, and the silencing of Black peoples.
Films from the short and medium length competition can also be seen this week, including All of Your Stars are but Dust on my Shoe, which unpacks and deconstructs the evolution of lighting from its whale-oil origins to its many uses as a means of repression or control. Nikita Yefimov turns his camera on a high-security detention centre in Russia in Strict Regime, with a particular focus on one of the guards. Meanwhile, La fin des rois by Rémi Brachet is a gutsy documentary presenting a kaleidoscopic portrait of Clichy-sous-Bois on the outskirts of Paris, in a film far removed from stereotypes.
50 years of Vidéographe
To highlight the 50th anniversary of Vidéographe, artist and filmmaker Luc Bourdon has put together Le devoir de mémoire, a selection of five films exploring dramatic and controversial events from recent history, chosen from the artist centre’s 2,300-title catalogue. True to the activist roots of independent film, the artists seek to deepen our awareness of the world and to offer a personal, poetic, and powerful alternative to the standardized versions of stories in the mass media. This screening will be followed by a discussion hosted by Luc Bourdon, who is joined by Pierre Hébert, Félix Lamarche, Eduardo Menz, and Nayla Dabaji.
The award ceremony for the competition sections of the RIDM program will take place on Saturday, November 20 at 5 p.m. at the Cinémathèque québécoise. To close the festival, Gabor, the first feature film from Joannie Lafrenière, will be presented at 8 p.m. at the Cinéma du Musée. This intimate and offbeat documentary revisits the career of Gabor Szilasi, a photographer of great creative depth, as well as his fascinating life story.
To ensure that access to the program is simple and affordable, several ticketing options are available. Tickets for theatre screenings are $13 each; a $2 discount per ticket applies to purchases of five or more tickets. These tickets can be purchased via the online box office or at the festival’s physical box office at the Cinémathèque québécoise.
For online-only viewing, the RIDM Passport at $85 allows viewers to watch the vast majority of the festival’s films via the enligne.ridm.ca platform from November 14 to 25. Subscriptions for a single block, which covers a third of the online program, are also available at $30. All the details are available on the festival website.