Festival du Nouveau Cinéma 2019: Three Highlights

The Concordian’s selection is coming to our big screens this fall

With the end of the Festival du Nouveau Cinéma (FNC) last week comes excitement about the films we will have the chance to see this fall. The Concordian picked three of its favourites from the 2019 programming, which spanned Oct. 9 to 20.

Although some other impressive films also caught our attention, we decided to focus on the ones we will be able to see outside of the festival.

Bacurau – Kleber Mendonça Filho and Juliano Dornelles, Brazil, 2019

This story of a small Brazilian town which finds itself in the middle of a bloody and spooky manhunt is a must-watch. It certainly deserves all the praise it has been getting this year.

Winner of the FNC Temps Ø Public’s Choice Award and Jury Prize at Cannes, Bacurau is a unique and provocative picture.

Named after the small and isolated village of Bacurau, the film starts as its inhabitants are grieving their matriarch Carmelita. As we get to know its strange characters, we begin to sense an imminent danger. More and more people mysteriously disappear. Even the village itself somehow vanishes from all maps and gets cut from civilization.

The inhabitants of Bacurau suspect extraterrestrial involvement or a divine intervention of some sort, but never what really causes their town’s disintegration

The film manages to provoke one of the most surprising, exhilarating and funny finales of this year’s FNC lineup. The last 30 minutes of Bacurau are worth the movie ticket, encompassing murder, mystery, vengeance, psychedelic drugs and occult forces.

Although it might seem innocent and joyful at the beginning, Bacurau becomes a profound meditation on social inequality and colonial violence towards the end, while remaining coherent, unpretentious and entertaining.

Pain & Glory – Pedro Almodóvar, Spain, 2019

If Pain & Glory were to wind up as Pedro Almodóvar’s last film, it would end the filmmaker’s career beautifully. But after watching the Spanish artist’s last opus, one is undoubtedly touched and has to want to see more.

Pain & Glory relates the existential tribulations of Salvador Mallo (Antonio Banderas), an old and deprived filmmaker who struggles to get past his health problems and to get to work again. It is very close to the director’s own life and ruminations. Antonio Banderas said it himself as he received his award for best actor at Cannes last year, “it is no secret that Salvador Mallo is Pedro Almodóvar.”

The film goes back in time, showing the young Mallo growing up in a small village in the south of Spain. We also see many characters of the director’s past reappearing in his present life. One scene is particularly moving and feels very personal to Almodóvar, as Mallo meets his ex-boyfriend who he had not seen in decades. They talk about love, sexuality, growing old and battling drug addiction in a thoughtful and beautiful way.

The movie also charms with the naïveté and liveliness emanating from its use of light and color, specific to the work of Almodóvar.

The very last shot of Pain & Glory feels like one of the most dazzling and bittersweet movie endings of the year. Probably our favourite picture of the entire 2019 FNC programming.

I lost my body – Jérémy Clapin, France, 2019

With I lost my body, Jérémy Clapin creates a poetic, yet relatable and universal first animated feature film.

It starts as Naoufel, a young man trying to survive by himself in Paris, remembers his childhood. He appears scared by the loss of his parents but also marked by a rigorous musical education from his mother. We see him fascinated with various sounds of nature as a child, recording everything he encounters.

In parallel, a lonely hand escapes from a lab, where it is being stored. We then embark on two journeys, which connect at the end of the movie. We see Naoufel doing everything in his power to seduce a young woman named Gabrielle, as well as the hand, roaming the streets of Paris in search of the body it was once attached to.

Although its narrative is sometimes predictable, and dialogue somewhat cheesy, I lost my body still deserves attention. It shows beautiful poetic imagery, and impressive sound design. The sound effects and music immerse the viewer in the story and embellish the often dark and dirty streets of Paris suburbs.

While it does not have more screenings planned in Montreal yet, I lost my body will be available on Netflix later this year. The trailer is already on the website and really inspires to see the full picture.

Praised Canadian content to follow

Canadian films from across the country were also very much put forward by the festival this year, some of which will be in cinemas in Montreal this fall.

The Grand Prix of the National Competition was won this year by The Body Remembers When the World Broke Open, by Kathleen Hepburn & Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers. With two First Nations women as its protagonists, it raises awareness about domestic violence issues Indigenous women face in Canada. Presented at the Toronto International Film Festival and Berlinale earlier this year, it has amassed considerable critical acclaim.

The Twentieth Century, which will be presented in Montreal theatres in December, has won the most promising Canadian feature film prize at FNC this year. It takes an original look at the life and career of Canadian Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King.

Finally, the short film The Physics of Sorrow, winner of the Prix National Dada at FNC, would be another one to try to find. Theodore Ushev’s last film centers on a man remembering his childhood in the midst of an existential crisis. Winner of an honourable mention for the Best Canadian Short Film at TIFF, it is sure to attract more praise for the already successful director.

Pain & Glory will be presented all week in Spanish with English subtitles at the Cinéma du Parc and Cineplex Forum. Bacurau has been presented again at a few screenings in Montreal last week, including at the Brazilian Film Festival on Oct. 28. It will be shown in Toronto on Nov. 3 for the same festival. More screenings should follow this year.

Concordia students have a discount at Cinéma du Parc, setting the price of a ticket at $9.75. Many FNC films will be in their programming in the next few weeks. Visit for more details.

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