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Reel Forecast: Socially Acceptable Acts of Terrorism or Crude Garbage?

Posted by Andrés / March 26, 2010


Let film educate or alienate from FRIDAY MAR 26 to THURSDAY APR 1

Film as art. Film as education. Film as escapism. All three can be controversial, and everyone tends to prefer one focus over another. All but what is considered classical art is divisive, and even Picasso has his detractors. With short running times and the myopic slanted focus of the director, education is never balanced. Escapism is time-consuming, brain-rotting and pointless in the face of reality. So why watch film? What makes it important artistically or socially? Some of the screenings this week may attempt to shed light on the answers to these questions: including the 2nd edition of the Montreal Film Festival on the Environment.

On Friday and Saturday, Cinéma Parallèle is screening a double-feature event dubbed "L'Afrique en double: Un continent, deux points de vue". Both films are by Québecois filmmakers and reflect their unique views on Africa. Intérieurs du delta (dir. Sylvain L'Espérance, Québec, 2009) is a traditional doc that focuses on the lives on fishermen on the Niger River. Journal d'un coopérant (dir. Robert Morin, Québec, 2010) is a pseudo-documentary by the same director as Petit Pow! Pow! Noël. While the images and locales are real, the narrative is fiction. The story focuses on an electrician working for an NGO in Africa who soon discovers social inequality. As is the case with many docs by foreigners about Africa, both films focus on the effects of globalization and probably reveal more about North American consciousness than African reality. (More info)

MP readers who have children, or who are children at heart should head over to Cinéma Beaubien on Sunday. By popular demand, a few standout films from FIFEM (Festival International du Film pour Enfants de Montréal) are screening. Notable is that all are animated NFB co-productions with France, further underscoring the NFB's reputation as an animation powerhouse. Le Printemps de Mélie (dir. Pierre-Luc Granjon, Canada/France, 2009) is a marionette animation about a fantasy kingdom in Spring, and is the spiritual successor to L'Hiver de Léon (dir. Pierre-Luc Granjon & Pascal Le Nôtre, Canada/France, 2007) about marionettes in Winter. (More info)

Be prepared to learn a new term on Monday: Socially Accepted Acts of Terrorism, a.k.a. ATSA. Two artists create art installations across the province in what they call "urban interventions". The point of these stagings are to highlight inequities in our lives and engage viewers to think about these problems and think about the possible solutions. While this concept is hardly new, their film is bound to attract citizens who love art as a middle-of-the-road centerpiece rather than hidden in a museum. Art in Action (dir. Magnus Isacsson & Simon Bujold, Canada, 2009) will be preceded by the short film Dream Listener (dir. Karen Elaine Spencer, Canada, 2008) that deals with issues of homelessness. Both screen at Concordia University. (More info)

To end the week, I'm highlighting a few films of interest at the 2nd annual Montreal Film Festival on the Environment, playing at Cinema du Parc. On Tuesday is Heavy Metal (dir. Huaqing Jin, China, 2009) about trash recyclers near Shanghai. Those who have seen Manufactured Landscapes (pictured) got a glimpse of these gigantic mounds of trash - garbage from both China and overseas that is sifted by rural Chinese for scrap metal to be reused. On Wednesday, check out Uranium (dir. Roman Icard & Emmanuel Amara, France, 2008) about the safety of French citizens who live near uranium mines buried and hidden from view. My pick of the festival falls on Thursday. Crude: The Real Price of Oil (dir. Joe Berlinger, USA, 2009) is a critically-acclaimed film making its premiere in Montréal. The doc is about a fight between Ecuadorians and Exxon, the latter of which denies its production of crude oil is polluting or causing the dramatic rise in cancer rates. Check out the trailer below. (More info)

Images courtesy respective film distributors.

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