Starting Oct. 9, the film festival will be more political, feminist and diversified than ever
The year’s most anticipated rendezvous for cinephiles and filmmakers alike is set to be memorable, with a lineup encompassing unique screenings, as well as events and parties every night.
While the Montreal movie festival circuit has a wide array of events for everyone all year round, the Festival du Nouveau Cinéma (FNC) once again proves it is the most versatile and attractive of all. All of their screenings are also open to the public, many of which are even free.
This year’s edition of the FNC will be the first of Zoé Protat as Programming Director. While she has been working with the organization as a programmer and critic for many years, this is the first time she is responsible for the entire festival. The programming seems more politically engaged and audacious than in previous years.
Two main themes certainly stand out in the programming, which the FNC released on Oct. 1: feminist cinema, and climate change.
“It was inevitable,” said Protat when talking about why she and her team decided to focus their work on those two subjects. While she believes the FNC had to act on climate change and keep the conversation going, as it starts only two weeks after the historic climate march, she said the idea of presenting more feminist cinema happened “more organically.”
“We were stunned by the relevance of their discourse,” said Protat, referring to feminist films she picked up for the FNC. “Whether it be old classics or more obscure pictures, from the 1950s to contemporary cinema, we were able to find films that profoundly resonate with the conversations we have about feminism today. These films can change our perception of feminism, and all have a unique angle on it, an interesting way to express it.”
Agnès Varda, the famous French director who passed away this year, will be honoured at the festival. Protat considers her to be “one of those by pioneers who fought and paved the way for the creators of today.” Her film L’une chante, l’autre pas (1977) will be shown in a newly restored version, as well as her last autobiographical documentary Varda par Agnès (2019), pictured right.
Many contemporary filmmakers are also being put forward by the FNC to show us how feminism has evolved through representation. Among those artists, Mania Abkari and Douglas White, for A moon for my father (2019), and Maryam Touzani, for Adam (2019), have received considerable critical acclaim.
The FNC’s political engagement doesn’t stop at their screening’s programming, however. They have organized many events and conferences in order to widen the conversation some films are opening.
As part of their focus on environmental issues, which they have called Films for the planet, the festival has organized talks with Luc Ferrandez, Laure Waridel, and Bernard Lavallée; all important figures when it comes to climate change debates in Quebec.
“We realized how some catastrophe or apocalyptical science-fiction movies had resonance today,” said Protat. Indeed, the FNC’s Films pour la planète will feature many of those because, according to her, “they don’t feel like fiction anymore.”
“We’re realizing that eco-anxiety is a real issue and that some catastrophe movies, even older ones, definitely have a stronger meaning today,” she added. Take Shelter (2011), by Jeff Nicols, and Silent Running (1972), pictured left, by Douglas Trumbull, are two examples of special screenings that the FNC is organizing as part of that conversation.
Local arts and films also in the spotlight
Looking at Canadian cinema differently than other festivals in Quebec, Protat said she wants the FNC to “show a Pan-Canadian approach to film, mostly focusing on first feature films, by creators from all over the country.”
She wishes for the FNC to feature various languages, ideas and aesthetics, and their 2019 lineup certainly reflects that.
Among the most anticipated Canadian films, this year is Antigone (2019), by Quebec director Sophie Deraspe (right.) Based on the Greek tragedy by Sophocles, the film follows the tribulations of a young Lebanese immigrant trying to get her brother out of prison. The film was awarded the best feature film prize at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) this year and was nominated as Canada’s entry to the Academy Awards. Its soundtrack was also co-written by Jad Orphée Chami, a Montreal musician who has just finished his BFA in music at Concordia.
Current Concordia students will also be featured at the festival. As part of their series of free events happening at L’Agora Hydro-Québec, the FNC and Concordia student-curators are co-organising an exhibition showcasing the university’s talents in various disciplines, such as painting and drawing, print media, video, and performance art.
“We are starting an interesting tradition this year where we want to have a Quebec university showcasing their work through a one-night event at the festival each year,” said Protat. “And we thought Concordia was a good place to start. It has a very active arts community, and many filmmakers that present their work at the festival are from Concordia,” she added.
Spotlight on Concordia Fine Arts will showcase student work on Oct. 17, at 9 p.m., at L’Agora, in the Quartier des Spectacles.
From local indie documentaries to major international feature films, the FNC is always a good opportunity for everyone to get a glimpse of what the best of contemporary (or old, through a contemporary lens) cinema is like.
The FNC will be held across many movie theatres, all in the Quartier des Spectacles, most notably at Cinéma Impérial and the Cinémathèque Québécoise, from Oct. 9 to 20. For the full programming, visit nouveaucinema.ca.
Feature photo from Take Shelter (2011). This article contains files from the Festival de Nouveau Cinema.