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MWFF'09 Film Report #1: Lots of music, silence

Posted by Andrés / August 29, 2009


The 33rd edition of the Montreal World Film Festival is underway, which is a pretty scary undertaking for film fans: hundreds of first-run or unknown films makes picking the ones to watch a daunting experience. Over the next two weeks I'll be dropping in with the films I caught, when they play again, and whether you should go watch them. Feel free to share dissenting views or recommend other films playing.

In the World Competition category, Tony Gatlif's Freedom (Korkoro) played on both Friday and Saturday, and is already tops in my books for the main prize - this before even watching the other nineteen up for the main prize. The premise: a people oppressed by those in power, is nothing new; though it comes from a new perspective: that of the wandering gypsies in Europe, or Roma. The characters, music and cinematography were beautiful. You can't beat the opening shot: the barbed wire of a concentration camp vibrating, as if being strummed to accompany the background music. It's a great introduction to the musical nature of the gypsies, as well as the underlying threat of internment in World War II. Unfortunately, unless the festival organizers decide to run it again as an extra showing near the end of the festival, this one has ended it's run. The quality of its production is sure to bring it to a repertoire cinema or the AMC once it finds a North American distributor.

Refrain by local filmmaker Tyler Gibb (read my interview with him) is one of the strongest local independent films I've seen in recent memory. Don't let the independent look and feel of it turn you off: this movie has a heart, beautiful music and a finale that pays off. While its main actress flies vocally, it's the supporting cast (including her abusive husband Ash) that really round out the performances. The cycle of violence in the home is represented by its repetitive motions much like the refrain in a song; and the repercussions of breaking this cycle are sure to affect all involved. Gibb thankfully lets each characters play out how they deal with it. You have one more chance to catch this, and the cute animated short that precedes it (Listen to Me!) Sunday, August 30th at 7pm at the Cinema Quartier Latin. I recommend you do.

With these last two films I had few expectations and came away with very favourable impressions; so it's only natural that I was disappointed with Winter Silence (Winterstilte), a film from the Netherlands by Sonja Wyss. I had heard some good things from previous festivals and was most looking forward to it. To put it kindly, at only seventy minutes, it managed to try my eyelids. Yet, it has some of most beautiful and haunting images (mostly involving repetitive motions such as knitting) you're likely to see at this MWFF. It plays again September 6th and 7th at the Cinema Quartier Latin. The short that precedes it, Lars and Peter, about a man and his two boys who miss their mother (dead? run off?), is fairly forgettable.

You can buy tickets and browse the films being played at the festival's website. For those who found it painful to surf in the past, you'll be happy to know they got their act together and hired a web designer who has experience building 21st century-quality websites.

All images courtesy the FFM for promotional purposes.



Reinita / February 4, 2015 at 12:52 am
Canada is so beautiful and clean and it's awalys interesting to experience the culture. When my husband and I were in Europe last year, we met a very nice Canadian couple and we have sworn to go up and visit them soon! It's a lovely place!

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