Montreal’s documentary film festival, RIDM (or Rencontres internationales du documentaire de Montréal, if you parlez français), celebrates its 15th anniversary this year with over 100 films and events. Beginning this Wednesday, November 7 and running through Sunday, November 18, the festival functions as a showcase for non-fiction works from Quebec and around the world, and was founded by filmmakers to serve filmmakers and the film industry while also sharing and celebrating innovative documentary cinema with the general public.
While I’ve not yet managed to attend the festival – a shame since I love Montréal – I’m impressed by the breadth of the programming, which opens with Peter Mettler’s cinematic essay THE END OF TIME, and closes with Raymond Depardon and Claudine Nougaret’s self-reflective JOURNAL DE FRANCE. If I wasn’t busy with DOC NYC and attending, the following are among the new films I’d want to check out:
RIDM’s International Feature Competition includes fourteen titles. Beyond ones that I’ve already viewed elsewhere, such as LEVIATHAN and ONLY THE YOUNG, this section features Jet Leyco’s EX PRESS, a hybrid doc on a jungle railroad in the Philippines; Vanina Vignal’s AFTER THE SILENCE – WHAT REMAINS UNSAID DOES NOT EXIST?, about a Romanian family’s attempts to bury the past; Ulises Rosell’s THE ETHNOGRAPHER (pictured), the story of an anthropologist who gives up his work to become part of the native tribe he was studying; and Régis Sauder’s ÊTRE LÀ, about women working as nurses and therapists in a French prison.
The twelve films of the festival’s Canadian Feature Competition include fest favorites like THE PATRON SAINTS and HERMAN’S HOUSE. Notable here is the world premiere of Yung Chang’s THE FRUIT HUNTERS, on people obsessed with finding and tasting exotic fruit; Dominic Gagnon’s PIECES AND LOVE ALL TO HELL (pictured), assembling the out-there, “inappropriate” YouTube conspiracy rants of freaked out American women; and Hubert Caron Guay and Rodrigue Jean’s L’ÉTAT DU MONDE, a portrait of the marginalized of Montréal.
The final competition is for International Shorts and Mid-Lengths. Of the latter, of special note is Jasna Krajinovic’s A SUMMER WITH ANTON (pictured), a surprising and chilling look at a pre-teen Russian’s time at a military boot camp; and Alessandra Celesia’s THE BOOKSELLER OF BELFAST, on gentrification in Northern Ireland in the form of a lost bookstore.
Screening out of competition are fifteen Special Presentations, representing fest circuit favorites and new films from established filmmakers, such as DETROPIA, ROOM 237, and THE LAW IN THESE PARTS. Other titles here include Carlos Klein’s WHERE THE CONDORS FLY (pictured), on the making of Victor Kossakovsky’s sublime ¡VIVAN LAS ANTIPODAS! (also screening at RIDM); and Alanis Obomsawin’s THE PEOPLE OF THE KATTAWAPISKAK RIVER, a portrait of a Cree reservation suffering from so many ills that its chief declared a state of emergency last year.
RIDM’s Against the Grain section aims to challenge perceptions, offering docs like THE PUNK SYNDROME and LOVE STORY. Also here are Dan Geva and Noit Geva’s NOISE, about the filmmaker’s attempts to deal with his fear of noise in bustling Tel Aviv; and Andrew Gryazev’s TOMORROW (pictured), a hybrid on the radical Russian art collective Voina.
Current affairs are the focus of the fest’s Horizons section, which includes films like SOLDIER/CITIZEN and THE GIRL FROM THE SOUTH. Noteworthy here are Benjamin Kahlmeyer’s MEANWHILE IN MAMELODI, a profile of a South African township as they respond to the World Cup; Nadine Gomez’s THE HORSE PALACE, on one of Montreal’s last stables located in a working-class neighborhood undergoing development; and Jean-Simon Chartier’s ALLÉLUIA (pictured), a portrait of four young men on the path to becoming Dominican monks.
Finally, RIDM has shown a consistent concern with environmental themes, the subject of its Territories section, which includes festival favorites like DOWNEAST, LOW & CLEAR, and DROUGHT. Also featured here are Matt McCormick’s THE GREAT NORTHWEST, in which the filmmaker follows the same path a group of strangers took on a 1958 vacation; and Aleksei Vakhrushev’s THE TUNDRA BOOK: A TALE OF VUKVUKAI, THE LITTLE ROCK (pictured), a portrait of a family of Siberian nomads.