The latest edition of the Montreal World Film Festival kicked off its 39th year in Montreal yesterday. Spread out across various venues in the Quartier des spectacles in the heart of the city, the festival will be showcasing a total of 481 films from around the world.
MWFF has had a rough few years as festivals around Canada (read: TIFF, Vancouver and Calgary Intl) and even around the city have gained more steam and captured niche markets (read: Festival du nouveau monde, RIDM and Fantasia). Still, MWFF does continue to hold its own and bring a range of artists and their work to Montreal. It can perhaps still boast its reputation as a truly global cinema event in Montreal. The opening film is Iranian filmmaker Majid Majidi’s Muhammad.
This year’s festival will showcase 281 features and close to 200 shorts. It’s heartening that an entire day (Monday, September 7th) is dedicated to short films.
In addition, MWFF will be showcasing 24 features in the World Competition category. This year’s special focus is Chinese cinema; a special forum called ‘China Meets the West’ will be an exclusive two-day event hosted as part of the Festival’s Film Market. The forum will be a unique occasion to meet the most important decision makers, top-level independent producers, and investors of the Chinese film industry. In an increasingly globalized world (including cinema), this outreach into Asia will bode well for the local industry.
Additionally, the festival is offering a very large contingent of films from Asia, in addition to its standard European presence. With films from Mainland China and Taiwan and others from South Korea, Iran, and Russia, it promises an array of filmmaking styles and genres.
My picks across the festival include Adama (2015), Simon Rouby’s soulful story about a 12 year old girl who sets out in search for her brother, facing the wicked war mongering spirits that surround her village; Homeland (Adibhumi), a 2015 film from India which dabbles with displacement vs. development; Grumant: Island of Communism (Grumant: Ostrov Kommunizma), a 2014 documentary from Russia which allows us to peek into the lives of coal miners on the remote island of Svalbard; the Girl King, which is an international production with Finnish director Mika Kaurismäki and starring Quebec heartthrob François Arnaud, among others.
The festival will close with Vincent Bal’s musical comedy La Brabançonne. Hopefully the Festival will bring some well-needed spice to a moderately hot summer in Montreal.
The Montreal World Film Festival runs August 27 to September 7.