Reality is in the eye of the beholder at the 19th Rencontres internationales du documentaire de Montréal (RIDM). The documentary film festival returns Nov. 10 to 20 with a program of 128 films from 35 countries, including 13 world premières, 18 North American premières and 24 Canadian premières.
Opening the proceedings, as previously announced, is Gianfranco Rosi’s Fire at Sea. The film is set on the Italian island of Lampedusa, which is a landing point for throngs of refugees, and the screening is co-presented by Amnesty International Canada.
The festival closes with Santiago Bertolino’s NFB-produced Freelancer on the Front Lines, a portrait of Canadian war correspondent Jesse Rosenfeld.
The official competition includes Shengze Zhu’s Another Year, sitting in on the evening meals of a Chinese working class family; Alexander Kuznetsov’s We’ll be Alright, about two Russian women imprisoned in a psychiatric hospital; Tatiana Huezo’s Tempestad, a poetic look at human trafficking in Mexico; Guy Davidi’s Mixed Feelings, tackling the Israeli-Palestinian conflict via group therapy sessions in a Tel Aviv acting school/apartment; and Patric Chiha’s Brothers of the Night, which takes an impressionistic approach to the plight of Roma prostitutes in Vienna.
Among the entries in the Canadian feature competition are John Walker’s Quebec My Country Mon Pays, a personal exploration of the province’s linguistic divide (the Nov. 16 screening will be followed by a debate); Carlo Guillermo Proto’s Resurrecting Hassan, the portrait of a blind couple that sings in the Montreal métro; two films on Inuit life, Alethea Arnaquq-Baril’s Angry Inuk and Aude Leroux-Lévesque and Sébastien Rist’s Chez les géants; and Brett Story’s The Prison in Twelve Landscapes, an activist essay on the American penal system.
Among the standouts in the Panorama section are Rick Barnes, Olivia Neergaard-Holm and John Nguyen’s David Lynch: The Art of Life; Tomer Heymann’s Mr. Gaga, examining the life and work of Israeli choreographer Ohad Naharin; Francis Legault’s Le goût d’un pays, drawing links between Quebec independence and maple syrup; Nikolaus Geyrhalter’s Homo Sapiens, a post-apocalyptic circumnavigation of the planet without showing any humans; Sergei Loznitsa’s Austerlitz, observing tours of Nazi concentration camps; and Alanis Obomsawin’s We Can’t Make the Same Mistake Twice, following a legal saga surrounding Canada’s treatment of indigenous children.
In the Portraits section is Kimi Takesue’s Hot Docs-winning 95 and 6 to Go, about her Japanese-American grandfather, alongside Aslaug Holm’s Brothers, which shadows two Norwegian boys over an eight-year period and Kirsten Burger, Mikko Gaestel and Johannes Müller’s The Great Fortune, about an unlikeable billionaire with Down syndrome.
The Beat Dox series features musical documentaries, among which: Atsushi Funahashi’s Raise Your Arms and Twist, examining the strange phenomenon of Japanese “idol” group NMB48; Susanne Regina Meures’s Raving Iran, tracking a pair of Tehran techno DJs; and John Bolton’s Aim for the Roses, revisiting the quixotic ambition of Montreal-born ’70s stuntman Ken Carter to jump the St. Lawrence River in a rocket-powered Lincoln Continental, and of Vancouver composer Mark Haney’s album for double bass inspired by Carter’s quest.
AT A GLANCE
Rencontres internationales du documentaire de Montréal runs from Nov. 10 to 20. For tickets and complete program information, visit ridm.ca