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Mondo Cinema: A Preview of FFM 30

Posted by Omar / August 23, 2006

(photo courtesy of FFM & Sylvain Legaré)

As a recent émigré from Toronto, I can’t help but find myself charmed by a film festival that is not bloated with hotshot Hollywood celebrity cred. (TIFF, I’m talking about your whore ass). So what if the biggest celebrity that the World Film Festival (FFM) could muster was Kathy Bates? So what if I don’t recognize more than three directors in the entire catalogue? So what if the next indie darling, à la Little Miss Sunshine, won’t be discovered here?

Look, this is a real film festival. Films from around the world, you know. These are orphaned films without any publicity, awards or hype from the blogsphere (until now of course). This is a refreshing challenge for the true cinema lover.

So take a chance and go see that strange-looking film from Vietnam, or Afghanistan – in all honesty, it will probably be pretentious art-cinema crap, or a poorly funded government film with bad subtitles. But that’s part of the charm. It’s like a game. Once in a while you strike gold or silver (or bronze) and you feel like you really discovered something without being told what to like. In the age of the PR machine, that’s something to boast about.

Now after all that advice, here are films that I am telling you to see (click links for official listings):

SONG TRONG SO HAI (LIVING IN FEAR) | Bui Thac Chuyên | Vietnam/Japan | 110min
Tai is an ex-soldier living in a supposedly reunified Vietnam following the war. Trouble is, things aren’t that peaceful. It seems Tai has two wives, one in the city and one in the country. In the city, his old communist enemies are after him, and in the country his land is rife with land mines. Did I mention he also has two wives? And a few kiddies as well? Tai begins clearing mines, first to scavenge metal for money, then to increase his farmable land. Taking a lesson from masterpieces like Wages of Fear, characters who have to deal with the possibilities of exploding at any time creates really dramatic and tense cinema. Yet, the film is also funny, Taoist and lustful all at once. Not brilliant, but pretty damn good – and apparently based on a true story.

DOODH AUR APHEEN (MILK AND OPIUM) | Joel Palombo | India | 85 min
Personally, I would normally run from a Indian film filled with music, but Milk and Opium is different. More like those great Iranian films or the films of Satyajit Ray, or Visconti, this neo-realist film follows the adventures of Swaroop, a young Sufi musician who travels with a band of musicians across India. Naïve Swaroop learns quickly that India does not value its traditional musical culture, but instead craves malls, sneakers and drugs. Maybe its cuz I desi, but I loved listening to all the great Quwalli and Rajastani folk songs. The ending is a bit hokey, but mostly this film is on to something.

CINEASTAS EN ACCION (FILMMAKERS IN ACTION) | Carlos Benpar | Spain | 107 min
Do you hate colourization? Pan-and-scan transfers? Digital manipulation from the Moral Majority? Bad dubbing? Do you even know what I’m talking about? If you don’t, skip this film. If you do, then it will probably have a limited appeal. Filmmakers around the word discuss how they hate having distributors, broadcasters and producers distorting their work from its original version. Fair enough, but why is this a two-hour documentary instead of a good sixty-minutes story? Despite having bad graphics and cheesy reenactments, I still recommend it to all filmmakers and cinephiles since it features interviews with Claude Chabrol, Woody Allen, Sydney Pollack, Thomas Vinterberg, Arthur Penn, John Boorman, Bernardo Bertolucci, Betrand Tavernier and Jules Dasin.

AISLADOS (ISOLATED) | David Marqués | Spain | 84 min
This is like a mix between Clerks and My Dinner with Andre, but Spanish. Watching two guys, Andria and Kika, house-sitting in Ibiza, drinking wine, smoking dope and talking shit may seem like a waste of time, but I mostly found myself envying these pricks.

KAMOME SHOKUDO (KAMOME DINER) | Naoko Ogigami | Japan | 102 min
This film has the oddball feel of a Jared Hess film. Surreal in that deliciously Japanese way, the story revolves around a young woman named Sachie. She opens a “Japanese soul food” diner in Helsinki. Her first customer, Tommi, is a Finnish boy obsessed with Japan and the Gatchaman cartoon. She then meets the bug-eyed Midori, who came to Helsinki by stabbing her finger on a map with her eyes closed. Midori begins to help out in the restaurant. Then comes another Japanese woman who is stuck in Helsinki waiting for her missing luggage. Then, there is the drunken angry Russian woman ... do you get my point?

FUGA (FUGUE) | Pablo Larrain | Spain | 110 min
If you’re favourite movies are Amadeus and/or Shine, then check out Fuga – an Argentinean combination of both of them, but with a weird gothic horror element in it as well … not highly recommended, but vaguely interesting.

Do not waste time with Maria to Callas. Same with The Bicycle. Yuck, yuckity, yuck. Remember what I said about pretentious art-cinema? (see above).

Other films that I’m excited to see, and have heard some hype about are:

Wal Town, Unfolding Florence, Hollywoodland, The Oh in Ohio, Scream of the Ants, 2 Girls, Yamato.

Good luck and good night.



rishi / August 25, 2006 at 05:12 pm
oops! apparently, posting a comment error free is beyond me. anyhow, my cultural divide is a film that looks pretty good. i had a chance to see it and i'd recommend it to others as a good political yet personal documentary. it's playing aug.31 and sept.1 at the ONF theatre.
Rahaf / February 3, 2015 at 11:51 pm
Lorako mou, megalourgisses kai bravo sou! Poly oraia anssalyi kai se vathos! San tavros pou eimai me oroskopo partheno, perimeno, perimeno, perimeno ...narthei!! Eleos pia, varethika na perimeno! Sto epomeno arthro sou, grapse ligo perissotera gia ta aisthimatika ton tavron , an ginetai...!I am the godess Diana...pou milissame prin ligo...

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