31st Montreal World Film Festival

Canada, August 21 - September 1 2008

Awarded films

Having weathered a severe crisis just a few years ago, Montreal’s Festival des Films du Monde (FFM) seems to be back on track, even though major sponsors have cut back on their financial support. In direct contrast to the Toronto festival, which begins only a couple of days later, the FFM takes a certain pride in shunning Hollywood fare. But without much of the hoopla that accompanies major US-stars, this A-festival’s laid-back atmosphere makes for an exceptionally pleasant stay. Festival president Serge Losique’s claim that the quality of his competition could be compared to that of Cannes and Venice has to be taken as mainly PR-talk, but films like Goran Markovic’s The Tour (Turneja) or, the local favorite, Benoit Pilon’s The Necessities of Life (Ce qu’il faut pour vivre) would indeed look good in just about any A-festival’s main section. And the competition’s programmers must be applauded for surprising choices like Paolo Villaluna and Ellen Ramos’ The Inmate (Selda), a small, gritty, and sensitively executed prison drama from the Philippines, which would probably be overlooked by most major festivals.

Sidebars included the “First Films World Competition”, “Focus on World Cinema” and “Documentaries of the World” as well as a small retrospective of Soviet era musicals, while homages were dedicated to Tony Curtis, Allan Ladd Jr. and Isabelle Huppert. (Holger Römers)