One screen and many looks

in Festival du Nouveau Cinéma, Montréal 2021

by Pedro Almeida Tavares

The plurality of the Festival du nouveau cinéma

The 50th edition of the Festival du Nouveau Cinéma de Montreal represented a significant milestone for the event. Under the circumstances, it marks its most important achievement: the return to movie theaters after the pandemic. The FNC offered us, members of the FIPRESCI jury, a plural and exciting experience even from a distance. Even if remotely, for me and Victor Paz Morandeira, who don’t live in Canada, meeting new directors or following the birth of the first feature film of directors that we have followed through the short films is really very pleasurable. With us, the critic Jérôme Michaud, who was able to follow the sessions in loco.

Indeed, you miss being close to the event’s atmosphere, meeting people, the hustle and bustle between screenings, and the exchanges about the films in the halls of the movie theaters. On the other hand, the possibility that the online event brings to broaden its audience and offer the possibility of assembling a jury with a Brazilian, a Spaniard and a Canadian is important for a plural vision about the films in competition, attested during our conversations about the films. 

I chose to get as close to the atmosphere and experience of a film festival as I could, watching three films a day, with little time between them, as a way to be fair when considering them.

Among the eighteen films in competition, I encountered diverse approaches in style, cinematographic and philosophical genres. I was lucky enough to follow a rich panorama of filmic proposals from the most dreamlike nightmare to a Dadaist comedy. I was also able to notice the variety of inventive approaches on socio-political themes as in the films The Pink Cloud by Iuli Gerbase, even though the film was written and shot before the pandemic, it accidentally deals with pandemic issues involving a marriage crisis, La Contemplation du Mystère by Albéric Aurtèneche that deals with brutal traditions that need to be exterminated, and District Terminal by Bardia Yadegari and Ehsan, a film that deals with war, immigration, and the American dream.

I highlight some titles from the list, like the historical-family drama wrapped in its experimental cover Ste. Anne directed by Rhayne Vermette, Taste by Le Bao, a kind of purgatory about capital inspired by Pedro Costa, The Edge of Daybreak by Taiki Sakpisit, an imaginative and cohesive exercise about affection, politics and horror – something between Tourneur and Dreyer, perhaps. Sakpisit’s film was the winner of the FIPRESCI prize at the 2021 Rotterdam festival; Philipp Reichenheim’s amusing Freak Scene – The Story of Dinosaur Jr., which tells the story of one of the most wronged bands of the 90’s American scene, Dinosaur Jr. And, of course, Damascus Dream, the winner of the FIPRESCI prize at the 50th edition of the FNC. The film directed by Émillie Serri makes powerful use of archival footage, testimonials, and a vigorous dramatic charge through distinct looks and memories.

From the rich experience of being a FIPRESCI jury member at the Festival du Nouveau Cinèma de Montreal, I note promising names to follow in the future. The rich selection of the event is just as important to note, varying between medallions of contemporary cinema such as Pedro Almodóvar, Gaspar Noé, Bertrand Mandico, and Sean Baker with new directors from various corners of the world.

Pedro Almeida Tavares
Edited by Justine Smith