38th World Film Festival Montreal
Canada, August 21 - September 1 2014
With a spirit of resistance that feels Quebecois, the Festival des Films du Monde de Montreal (FFM) stood proudly in a difficult context which was worth a screenplay adaptation itself, complete with twists and suspense. When main public sponsors cut back their sponsorship, it strained the relationship with the French-Canadian film industry and caused an existential crisis about the future of the event. What can FFM do against Toronto? What cant they do to take back their lost prestige? For some, it would be focusing on French-speaking cinema. For the festival founder and president Serge Losique, it’s a firm no. “It would be a huge mistake”, Losique said (in La Presse, 08/22/2014). “The world is global and virtual. We must open to it. Focusing on francophonie would be missing reality.”
Avoiding the Hollywood game, FFM stays true to its name — defending cultural diversity to its furthest corners (like the Republic of Buryatia, a place in terms of cinema we’ve never heard from before). It was immediately clear, however, by the prominently elderly audience in the venues and the lack of festival “awareness” among the younger people we met, that a game change will be required in order to keep going on. But then such an important and beautiful city such as Montreal, with its bicultural DNA, deserves a festival promoting world cinema. At the closing ceremony, Losique was confident and cheeky enough to announce the dates of the 39th edition: 22th of October — 2nd of September — 1915!
Anyway, even though this festival was downsized, the 38th FFM still displayed an impressive menu: 350 features (160 long / 190 shorts), 100 world premieres, 32 North American premieres, 51 first features and 74 represented countries with a stress on South America, China and Japan. Claude Lelouch’s Salaud, on t’aime opened the festivities, and the mandatory tributes were dedicated to the late Alain Resnais (whose last film Life of Riley closed the festival) and also to producer Michael J. Werner, the tireless defender of world cinema through the Fortissimo Films company which backed Kiyoshi Kurosawa and Tran Anh Hung. The main winners were Luiz Urquiza Mondragon’s Perfect Obedience (Obediencia Perfecta) from Mexico in the International Compétition and Christian Diaz Pardo’s Gonzalez from Mexico too in the First Features competition. (Leo Soesanto)
World Film Festival Montreal: www.ffm-montreal.org/en/home.html