The 25th edition of the Montreal International Documentary Festival (RIDM) begins on Thursday, November 17! The festival runs until November 27 with several homegrown and international guests in attendance.
The festival will kick off at the Cinéma Impérial at 7:30 p.m. with the screening of Rewind & Play by French filmmaker Alain Gomis, presented with the support of the Consulate General of France in Quebec City. A fitting choice to launch this anniversary edition, the film honours the legacy of jazz musician Thelonious Monk and employs the power of editing to expose the construction of a colonial discourse using archival footage from a television program. Preceding the screening of the opening film will be the short film Des racines nées by ALUNAYA, created as part of the Conseil des arts de Montréal’s Regard sur Montréal 2022 film residency. Those in attendance will then be invited to head over to the festival’s headquarters at the Cinémathèque québécoise for a lively and celebratory party.
Award-winning films set for their Quebec premiere
Several internationally acclaimed films will be presented in Quebec for the first time during the RIDM. Winner of the Cannes Festival’s Golden Eye Award as well as Sundance’s World Cinema Grand Jury Prize (Documentary), All That Breathes by Shaunak Sen follows two brothers in New Delhi who’ve completely dedicated themselves to caring for birds that fall from the sky, affected by pollution, in their makeshift basement clinic. The film will have its Quebec premiere on Friday, November 18.
Winner of the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival, All the Beauty and the Bloodshed by Laura Poitras revolves around the life and work of photographer Nan Goldin. Moving between past and present, the film deftly weaves together both a touching profile of a unique artist and an activist’s fight against those responsible for the opioid crisis. The film will have its Quebec premiere on Tuesday, November 22.
Geographies of Solitude by Canadian filmmaker Jacquelyn Mills won three awards at the Berlinale, two at Hot Docs and one at the Vancouver International Film Festival, in addition to taking home honours in South Korea, Italy, and Manitoba. The film merges art and science by focusing on the work of naturalist Zoe Lucas, one of the few inhabitants of Sable Island, Nova Scotia. The film will have its Quebec premiere on Saturday, November 19, with the filmmaker in attendance.
Fanie Pelletier’s Bloom, which recently won the Best Debut Film Award at the Jihlava International Documentary Film Festival, delves into the intimacy of hyperconnected teenagers’ online lives with sensitivity and a sense of poetry. It will screen on Friday, November 18 with the filmmaker in attendance. The screening will be followed by a launch party at the Cinémathèque québécoise.
The many possibilities of documentary
The director of Bloom, Fanie Pelletier, will also take part in a happy hour-style roundtable on documentary storytelling in theatre and cinema, slated to take place following a performance of the play Ciseaux on Saturday, November 19 at Espace Libre. She will be in conversation with Geneviève Labelle and Mélodie Noël Rousseau of theatre company Pleurer Dans’ Douche.
The film Terra Femme will screen with live narration provided by filmmaker Courtney Stephens on Saturday, November 19. By skillfully piecing together travelogue archives filmed by women between the 1920s and 1950s, the film raises questions about women’s place in society during that period and the existence of a female gaze.
Sitting on the fringes of documentary, two works that play with the very nature of narrative construction should not be missed. In À vendredi, Robinson, filmmaker Mitra Farahani invites Jean-Luc Godard and Ebrahim Golestan to maintain a weekly email exchange, thus resulting in a rich and playful portrait of two cinematic heavyweights who’ve never met. The film will be presented on Saturday, November 19. 7 paysages by Robert Morin will have its world premiere at the festival. It’s the latest film by a director who has long excelled in the art of blurring lines between fact and fiction and it is difficult to describe it without spoiling the viewing experience. This masterful work that’s full of wonder will be screened on Monday, November 21 with the filmmaker in attendance.
In keeping with this notion of exploring the many possibilities of documentary, the Roundtable: Beyond Borders will take place on Sunday, November 20. It will focus on works that blur the boundaries between documentary and fiction. Filmmakers Morgane Dziurla-Petit (Excess Will Save Us) and Rob Rice (Way Out Ahead of Us), as well as screenwriter Teyama Alkamli (Concrete Valley) will reveal the different creative processes that underpin their works as part of a conversation moderated by Jason Fox, editor at the World Records Journal.
The world in its many states
The State of the World section, presented in collaboration with the Confédération des syndicats nationaux (CSN), will screen Chaylla on Monday, November 21. The film tracks the circuitous, years-long trajectory of a young, twentysomething mother in northern France as she attempts to break free from a violent and toxic relationship, seek justice, and rebuild her identity. The film's themes will be addressed in depth after the screening in a discussion with filmmakers Clara Teper and Paul Pirritano moderated by Annick Charette, President of the Fédération nationale de la culture et des communications (FNCC-CSN).
Ukrainian realities will be in the spotlight in four films selected for this year’s program. On Friday, November 18, Simon Lereng Wilmont’s A House Made of Splinters, a poignant portrait of children living in eastern Ukraine, will be screened. Two films will be presented on Saturday, November 19: Outside by Olha Zhurba, which documents the harrowing adolescence of a young Ukrainian man who survived on the streets of Kyiv during the Maidan revolution, until he fell into a life of petty crime; and One Day in Ukraine by Volodymyr Tykhyy, which looks into the Ukrainian people’s many forms of resistance to the Russian invasion. Screened on Tuesday, November 22, the short film Ptitsa by Alina Maksimenko profiles a mother and her daughter who quarantine together in Kyiv, during the pandemic.
Focus Brazil and Vidéo Femmes programs
Presented in collaboration with Olhar de Cinema – Festival Internacional de Curitiba, the Focus Brazil program offers a snapshot of the country’s contemporary documentary production boom via nine films. As the festival gets underway, the film Swing and Sway by Fernanda Pessoa and Chica Barbosa will screen on Sunday, November 20, with both directors in attendance. In the film, two women draw inspiration from experimental works in their correspondence with each other, between Brazil and the United States, in the middle of the pandemic. Presented on Monday, November 21, Cavalo by Rafhael Barbosa and Werner Salles Bagetti captures the African ancestry embedded in the bodies of seven young artists at work. The film slips between documentary, performance, and fiction as it taps into the memory and culture of the African diaspora.
Founded in 1973, Vidéo Femmes established itself as a cornerstone of Quebec’s feminist art scene, with a catalogue of more than 400 works. To kick off this section, the RIDM have programmed a special double bill on Sunday, November 20, with Nicole Giguère, Lynda Roy, and Johanne Fournier in attendance. It will feature Vidéo Femmes par Vidéo Femmes by Nicole Giguère and Lynda Roy, which looks back at the beginnings of the collective, preceded by C'est une bonne journée by Johanne Fournier and Françoise Dugré, a short, deconstructed narrative about female depression and mental health. Slated to screen on Monday, November 21 is Une nef... et ses sorcières, in which Hélène Roy bears witness to the process of creating the feminist play La nef des sorcières. Following the screening will be a discussion with Helen Doyle, Nathalie Roy, and novelist Nicole Brossard.
Short and Medium-Length films in competition
The 25th edition of the RIDM provides an excellent setting for debating and discussing the many facets of documentary cinema. For each of this year’s seven short film programming blocks, at least one filmmaker will be on hand to speak with audiences following the screening. Virgile Ratelle will be in attendance to talk about his film Summer Nights, which portrays teenage summer nights in all their candour. Natalie Murao will present Blue Garden, in which she asks her grandfather to recount his experience in a British Columbia internment camp during the Second World War. Simon Plouffe will introduce Forests, which relates Innu stories rooted in forests that were destroyed after the construction of a dam in unceded territories. Félix Lamarche will attend screenings of A Night Song, which trains its lens on an elderly woman who chooses to receive medical assistance in dying at home.
Nicolas Lachapelle will be on hand to discuss Zug Island, which paints the portrait of a community affected by industrial and noise pollution. Change of Scenery, in which Noa Blanche Beschorner immerses herself in the memory of the former German Democratic Republic, where her aunt once lived, will be screened with the filmmaker in attendance. Sarah Seené and Maxime Corbeil-Perron will engage in conversation with filmgoers about The Visible Spectrum, which highlights the experiences of individuals who survived being struck by lightning. Pablo Alvarez-Mesa will participate in the first screening of Infinite Distances, a sonic immersion comprised of messages left on an answering machine that build into a polyphony of voices and emotions. Carlos Ferrand will greet audiences at screenings of Mecánicos piratas de Lima, a short film made from Super 8 footage shot more than 45 years ago, which takes us on a journey into a timeless past steeped in poetry.
The Soirée de la relève Radio-Canada is back for another year on Sunday, November 20, making it possible to discover short documentaries by Quebec’s latest crop of emerging filmmakers. This is a one-of-a-kind opportunity for audiences to take in the achievements of current and future talents. This year’s six shortlisted films are Accordez-moi votre confiance by Isabelle Kanapé, Agonie by Arnaud Beaudoux, Correspondance by Laurence Ly, NDDJ (Notre-Dame-du-Jambon) by Grace Singh and Sita Singh, Surface by Adèle Foglia, and Tio Kevin by Kayla Fragman.