Arts and Culture Festival

A brief history of one of Canada’s oldest film festivals

Since 1971, Montréal’s Festival du Nouveau Cinéma has transformed audiences through their dedication to independent films, and this year was no exception.

We go to the cinema expecting to be changed in some way. To be reprieved, perhaps, from malaise, boredom, or a Tuesday afternoon with forgotten responsibilities. Or rather to be fed when hungry for new stories, perspectives, knowledges, colours, textures, and realities—or maybe that dimension of flavour in popcorn only the concession stand can produce. It may be that we wish to be held by that particular fabric that is always tender (if not a bit scratchy) or by an emotion released by a skilled performance. We go to the cinema because we seek to be transformed, even for a moment. 

Founded in 1971, the Festival du nouveau cinéma (FNC), one of Canada’s oldest film festivals, lets you do just this as it continues to reveal new explorations in the style, story, and structure of film to Montréalers and its visiting national and iInternational audience.

Originally known as the Montreal International 16mm Film Festival, founders Claude Chamberlan and Dimitri Eipides created the festival out of a desire to provide space for films possessing urgent, experimental and exciting aesthetic, narrative, and structural explorations—but lacking distribution. This first festival offered selections such as “Political and Social Cinema” and “Visual and Structural Cinema” alongside “European Short Films”—revealing a dedication to social struggle as well as to aesthetic exploration. In 1980, the festival changed its name to the Montreal International Festival of New Cinema, dropping 16mm to signify the festival’s embrace of all practices devoted to explorations in film structure and content. 

Other names through the years include the Montreal International Festival of New Film and Video (1984), New Montreal International Festival of Cinema, Video and New Technologies (1995), and Montreal International Festival of New Cinema and New Media (1997), until it was named Festival du nouveau cinéma in 2004. 

Despite these changes in names, what remains constant is an ardent devotion and respect for evolutions in cinematographic language and form. Indeed, FNC has continued to evoke empathy, excitement, and exploration at the shores of the familiar, providing festivalgoers with unique experiences for over 50 years. The urgency and importance of such a festival cannot be understated: at $13 a ticket for students (or $11 if you go in groups of ten), FNC makes the magic of cinema accessible. It provides the opportunity to learn, grow, and take an hour or two of your day to be changed, quite possibly forever.

Visit the FNC’s website here to see what films were screened this year and to check out the winners of their various contests.


Last and First Men: a warning to humankind

Not your usual sci-fi movie

“Listen patiently.” Tilda Swinton’s voice reverberates against an orchestral score while the camera pans out on a sculptural installation. Then, the screen goes black.

Directed by Jóhann Jóhannsson and originally released in 2017 prior to his passing, Last and First Men, presented by the Festival du nouveau cinéma, is not your average sci-fi movie.

Based on Olaf Stapledon’s 1930 science-fiction novel Last and First Men: A Story of the Near and Far Future, the film tells a message from billions of years into the future. The message is an alert to humanity, warning them of their inevitable extinction.

If you’re looking for an action-packed sci-fi movie, this is not it.

The experience resembled that of watching a nature documentary (Swinton might just be David Attenborough’s female counterpart). Her narration, which is similar to a dramatic audiobook reading, spans the length of the film and can be heard over the liturgical-style instrumental music composed by Jóhannsson himself.

The film offers an abstract anecdote of a post-apocalyptic world; there is no acting, there are no characters. Throughout the film, the camera pans over grayscale futuristic architectural details and archaeological sites. The stark architectural elements, which are socialist-era monuments and can be recognized as Spomeniks from the former Yugoslavia, contrast Swinton’s smooth voice. Her narration is at once compelling and deadpan.

Like watching a documentary or walking through an exhibition gallery, Last and First Men requires full and undivided attention. Jóhannsson’s film captures what it means for a film to be considered art.


Spotlight on Concordia Fine Arts at the Festival du Nouveau Cinema

The Concordian attends an art show put together by Concordia fine arts students for the Festival du Nouveau Cinema.


One of the shows depicted in the video is Vertige, a short film and live performance by Eva Myers and Mark Durand, and performers Candice Riviera and Olivia Jean Flores. 


Video by Calvin Cashen

Feature photo shows dancer Olivia Jean Flores performing in Vertige


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.


Auteur directors deliver stunning feats

Call Me By Your Name and Wonderstruck make their bid for awards season at the Festival du nouveau cinéma

While major film festivals like the Sundance Film Festival and the Toronto International Film Festival have always welcomed the biggest names in the industry, the Festival du nouveau cinéma gathers a more modest crowd. However, that doesn’t mean the festival’s programming fails to match up with its competitors.

This year’s lineup included a range of high-profile films, including Quebec filmmaker Denis Villeneuve’s Blade Runner 2049 and Yorgos Lanthimos’ The Killing of a Sacred Deer, starring Nicole Kidman and Colin Farrell.

In addition, two of the most highly anticipated films, Call Me By Your Name and Wonderstruck, screened during the festival’s final weekend. Let’s see if they lived up to the hype.

Timothée Chalamet (left) and Armie Hammer star in Call Me By Your Name, a coming-of-age love story.

Call Me By Your Name

When a film receives so much praise across the board, it might be tempting to dismiss it as overrated. Luca Guadagnino’s Call Me By Your Name is not such a film. Starring Armie Hammer and newcomer Timothée Chalamet, the film is a sexy coming-of-age tale that explores first love, self-discovery and heartbreak.

Set in northern Italy during the summer of 1983, the film follows Elio (Chalamet), a boyish and brooding 17-year-old who, while vacationing with his academic parents at their summer villa, becomes transfixed with 20-something Oliver (Hammer), an American grad student who arrives to work with Elio’s father for six weeks. Elio and his parents are intellectuals—they’re all perfectly trilingual and read Joseph Conrad while lounging by the pool—and so is Oliver, so he fits right in.

As Elio and Oliver get to know one another, they are simultaneously perplexed by and drawn to each other. This creates a push-pull relationship in which neither of them are entirely sure the other is interested. But the chemistry between them is palpable, and their desire for one another is beautifully exemplified against the sumptuous backdrop of the Italian vistas they explore together.

Elio experiences all of the typical highs and lows of first love. Yet his heartbreak is amplified to a new level, perhaps because their relationship is never fully realized and their romance is somewhat forbidden. The more entangled Elio and Oliver become, the more devastating their eventual goodbye feels.

Call Me By Your Name is a true masterpiece, and it’s hard to imagine Guadagnino ever topping it. It’s safe to say the film is a shoe-in for awards season, with both Hammer and Chalamet poised to receive tons of accolades for their crushingly honest and sensitive performances. This is absolutely not one to miss.

Call Me By Your Name hits theatres everywhere on Nov. 24.

Wonderstruck follows two young children on separate journeys of self-discovery.


“We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.” This quote is oftentimes the only source of comfort for young Ben, the main character in Todd Haynes’ brilliant film, Wonderstruck. After Ben loses his mother in a car accident, and then loses his hearing when he is struck by lightning through a telephone, he decides to run away to New York City in search of his father, whom he has never met.

Ben’s story, set in 1977, is told simultaneously alongside that of Rose, a young deaf girl who lives in New Jersey in 1927. Rose, like Ben, is also trying to escape a reality she cannot fathom. Told in black-and-white, silent-film-style flashbacks, Rose travels to New York City to free herself of her strict father and reunite with her absentee mother. As Rose and Ben’s journeys unfold side-by-side, they happen upon the same places, but it’s unclear how the two are connected.

Haynes is known for invoking strong performances from his actors, and he does so beautifully here with lead actresses Julianne Moore and Michelle Williams. Williams gets little screen time, but she pulls off her wistful, loving character well, and you miss her when she’s not on screen. Moore, on the other hand, delivers yet another emotionally rich and mesmerizing performance without ever saying a word. The film’s young cast, comprised of Oakes Fegley as Ben, Jaden Michael as Jamie and Millicent Simmonds as Rose, provide a sweet purity and sense of excitement that only adds to the film’s magic. Wonderstruck isn’t Haynes’ best work, but it will certainly strike a chord with audiences—there won’t be a dry eye in the theatre once the film ends.

Wonderstruck is currently playing in Montreal theatres.


Artfully showcasing unsettling stories

Highlights from the Festival du nouveau cinéma include striking films from two Canadian filmmakers

The Festival du nouveau cinéma wrapped up on Oct. 15, following two weeks of showcasing some of the best new films of the year. Let’s take a look at some of the highlights.

La petite fille qui aimait trop les allumettes

It’s difficult to describe this film as anything but disturbing and violent, but it’s not a bad film by any means. Directed by Québécois filmmaker Simon Lavoie, La petite fille qui aimait trop les allumettes will stay with you long after you’ve seen it due to its graphic depiction of family abuse, neglect and assault. Teenaged Ali (played formidably by Marine Johnson) was raised to believe she was a boy. The film shows her living in isolation with her brother and volatile father, who beats them senselessly any time they step out of line. Although the film is shot in black-and-white, Lavoie still manages to convey the gruesome details, which only elevate the film’s morbidity. Ali’s father seems haunted by a life-altering event, told only in flashbacks throughout the film. In present day, Ali is not only unaware she is a girl—she also doesn’t understand that her brother impregnated her when he raped her in the woods. When a sympathetic man from a nearby town explains who she is and what happened to her, Ali takes control of her life and fights for survival. But when the truth of her family’s secrets are finally revealed, it feels like a punch to the gut. Despite the heartbreaking revelation, the film ends with a glimmer of hope, making it worth all Ali had to endure.

Sweet Virginia

Jon Bernthal (right) and Christopher Abbott star in Sweet Virginia, a chilling and cinematic thriller.

There is nothing sweet about this film, and that’s what makes its title so effective. Set in a small town where three brutal murders have just taken place, Sweet Virginia tells the story of Sam (played by Jon Bernthal), a tortured ex-bull-rider who now manages a motel, and his friendship with Elwood (Christopher Abbott), a deranged hitman who inserts himself into Sam’s life. Rounding out the main cast are Rosemarie DeWitt and Imogen Poots as Bernadette and Lila—two disgruntled widows harbouring a few secrets of their own. Elwood books a room at Sam’s motel shortly after murdering three men in a local diner, two of whom are Bernadette and Lila’s husbands. Sam befriends Elwood, not knowing who he is, and the two strike up a rapport. The tension between them rapidly builds as Elwood’s motives—and Sam’s connection to one of the victims—becomes clear. Bernthal impresses as the quiet, kind-heart Sam, but Abbott is the true standout here. He showcases Elwood’s increasingly maniacal and sociopathic behaviour through subtle gestures—such as his ever-present and ever-creepy groan—along with an off-puttingly upbeat candor. While the ending is rather predictable, the audience is still jolted out of their seats when the film reaches its climax. Moreover, the film is visually stunning. Director Jamie M. Dagg managed to capture interesting features even in the most mundane settings, such as a motel room or the front seat of a car, through non-traditional camera placement. If you’re into crime thrillers set in moody small towns, then Sweet Virginia is for you.


Highlights from the Festival du nouveau cinéma

Here’s a look at a few of the festival’s films that have stood out so far for their remarkable storytelling

In this second week of the Festival du nouveau cinéma, let’s take a look back at some of the best films screened so far—some of these will be screened again, and all are expected to play in theatres.

American Honey

Undoubtedly one of the best films of the year, American Honey is the worthy winner of the Jury Prize at Cannes—the third such win for English director Andrea Arnold. It is a wild and memorable alcohol-fueled road trip through an invisible America, one of social outcasts and abandoned youth. Don’t let the 162-minute running time scare you away—this is an experience that deserves to be stretched out. For its startling authenticity and social realism, it demands comparison to the Dardenne Brothers’ best work. While it presents characters and situations that often feel all but hopeless, it never loses sight of the light at the end of the tunnel—one that is sometimes just a flicker, but can grow into a camp fire. Also, this film should end the debate on whether or not Shia Laboeuf can act. Spoiler alert: he can.

The Student

This is a rare and important look at religion in Russia—a once atheist country that is no longer averse to embracing fundamentalism when it suits a political purpose. It is odd to realize the film is based on a German play, when everything in it feels topical and adapted to the reality it depicts. A high school student suddenly and inexplicably becomes a Christian fanatic, interpreting the Bible as a call to arms in this tense and staggering story. If the film is somewhat didactic in its approach, it feels not preachy, but well-measured—in fact, much of the dialogue is lifted straight from the Bible—with the sources, such as book and chapter numbers appearing on the screen, and the structure seems to reference the great anticlerical texts of the Age of Enlightenment, something out of Voltaire.


Nowhere near an ordinary biopic—or even, perhaps, an ordinary film—this is a fittingly poetic exploration of Nobel Prize winner Pablo Neruda’s persona and art, depicting an episode of Chilean history through playful, contemplative experimentation with form and content. Luis Gnecco, as Neruda, on the run when Chile outlaws the Communist Party to which he belongs, and Gael García Bernal, as the inspector on his trail, are exquisite in ways that transcend the conventional cat-and-mouse relationship you would expect. The unnatural colours and dreamlike editing create a distinct environment in which truth and fiction overlap in tribute to a larger-than-life character.


Controversial in Brazil, its country of origin, for political reasons that have more to do with the filmmakers than with the film itself, this is a sensitive character study elevated by a career-defining role for aging legend Sonia Braga. A woman refuses to give up her apartment when the building is being bought up by a conglomerate that plans to destroy it. She hangs on to the apartment as a piece of the disappearing world she was once a part of. She knows she will die, and she knows the building will eventually be gone, but she will not allow it to happen on her watch. The accumulation of subtle details and elements of the woman’s life creates a portrait that conjures up feeling and respect for her.

American Honey will be released on Oct. 14. Neruda will be released on Dec. 16. Aquarius will screen again Oct. 15 at 6 p.m. at Cinéplex Odéon Quartier Latin (with French subtitles). Release dates for Aquarius and The Student have not yet been announced.


Festival du Nouveau Cinema’s ups and downs

The second part of The Concordian’s coverage of one of Montreal’s most ambitious film festivals

The Festival du Nouveau Cinema (FNC) just ended and brought with it an impressive selection of movies. Even if a film festival is always around the corner in Montreal, we should all aim to see as many film as possible. Although The Concordian was not able to see every film shown at the FNC, here are some of our favourite–and least favourite–picks from the second week of screenings.

Next to her
Frédéric T. Muckle

Have you ever taken care of someone?

Have you ever taken care of someone? For informal caregivers, helping is a very demanding way of life.  Next to her, Asaf Korman’s first feature film, smartly tackles this touching issue. It is the story of Chelli and her mentally challenged little sister Gabby; it is also the tale of two young women ultimately looking for some love and comfort.

Following mostly Chelli, Korman gives us a peek into the inner conflict of this caring young woman. This portrayal of her love/hate relationship with her sister is both troubling and touching. She tries to protect Gabby from the world. Still, she seems to long for a normal life in which she only had herself to care for. Who could blame her? The courage and hardships of informal caregivers are thoughtfully portrayed in the repeating of mundane moments between these two codependent sisters. One of Chelli’s most interesting facets is that she actually needs Gabby as much as Gabby needs her. Even with a boyfriend who is at first very understanding and kind to the intimate duo, Chelli seems incapable of letting her go. Korman’s wife Liron Ben-Shlush, who wrote the screenplay for Next to Her, beautifully plays this nuanced character.

Korman’s movie prevails in the little details; in the subtle smiles and furtive looks, in a polished portrayal of a close relationship not only between two sisters, but also of love and hate itself–emotions that are often closely related.


She’s lost control
Frédéric T. Muckle

Having sex for money: not so respectable in our traditional society, right?

Having sex for money: not so respectable in our traditional society, right? Still, a movement that started in the ‘70s created what is now known as “sexual surrogates.” This job, that should not be described by the judgmental puritans who still exist in today’s modern world, is actually a serious and compassionate occupation. These people, mostly women, act as a professional partner and therapist to people in need of sexual therapy. These people are usually not able to have what most people would consider a normal relationship with someone.

Anja Marquardt tackles this controversial and complex topic in She’s Lost Control, starring the talented Brooke Bloom as Ronah, the main protagonist who happens to be a sexual surrogate. This subject could have been painted crudely in broad strokes, but luckily She’s Lost Control effectively focuses on more than Ronah’s unusual occupation.

The movie makes you feel Bloom’s character’s array of nuanced emotions while accompanying her in her everyday tasks, some dramatic and unexpected events, and also her uncommon work. As the title suggests, everything finally ends up being too much for the caring sensitive Ronah who, in the end, just wants to help people. The descent is brutal and swift. The one thing that disappoints in She’s Lost Control is its actual conclusion. During the whole movie you are following this interesting character and emotionally watching as her life unfolds, but the ending simply leaves you with a feeling of emptiness. This movie needed more than this unsatisfactory ending. What could have been a really good movie sadly ended up being average.


The Price We Pay
Zach Goldberg

a joint operation between Cinema Politica and the FNC

Last Wednesday, director Harold Crooks’ newest work, The Price We Pay was shown at Concordia University. The screening was held at the H-110 theatre, and was a joint operation between Cinema Politica and the FNC. Crooks’ newest film covers the global financial sector, tackling big-business tax avoidance and offshore finance. Like his last film, Surviving Progress, The Price We Pay is based on a thick, content-laden novel.

The substantial breadth of the source text, combined with the dense, technical nature of the topic, created what would seem a daunting task for a documentarian. However, the film handled a difficult topic with surprising clarity, utilizing helpful graphics and clever, often comedic voice-overs to make what has become an insider trade accessible to a wider audience.

Beginning at the economic boom of the Reagan administration, the film walks the viewer through the development of the laws that are currently depriving governments of trillions of dollars every year. The Price We Pay pulls aside the curtains of technical jargon and insider information on one of the most daunting aspects of global finance today, being at once a harsh indictment of not only corporations, but the governments that harbour them. Crooks’ new film has only further solidified him as one of the great documentarians of our time, firmly placing him amongst the likes of Michael Moore and Josh Fox.


La Sapienza
Erdene Batzorig

Eugène Green’s drama La Sapienza explores withered love, harbored feelings and the struggles of midlife crisis.

Eugène Green’s drama La Sapienza explores withered love, harbored feelings and the struggles of midlife crisis. The dialogue-heavy film included unexpected, offbeat quips that had the audience in good humour.

Alexandre Schmidt who admires 17th century Roman architect Francesco Borromini, leaves his day-to-day life in France and travels to Switzerland and Italy to revive his dormant project on Borromini. He travels with his wife, Aliénor, to Stressa where they meet a young architect student Goffredo and his sister Lavinia. Between the four of them and their interactions with each other, they find answers that they did not know they were looking for.

Throughout the movie you see a change in the way the characters relate to one another.  At the beginning, the lack of physical interaction and the minimal, rigid conversations reflect the state of the relationships. The addition of Lavinia and Goffredo has a surprising effect on both Alexandre and Aliénor, as they both rediscover the meaning of life.  The natural curiosity and the naivety of the young siblings has them reflecting on their lives and recounting stories from past.

Some parts of the film are quite drab with the endless talks and slow pace, but the stellar performances by Fabrizio Rongione (Alexandre), Christelle Prot Landman (Aliénor) and the rest of the cast ultimately bring you back to the film.

Green has done a fine job of writing provoking dialogues and creating an aesthetically beautiful film. It may not be for everyone, but at the end you are sure to come out with something to think about and reflecting on your own life.


Festival du Nouveau Cinema’s gems and lemons

First part of our report of what the FNC has to offer this year

Montreal is known for its array of film festivals taking place during the whole year. The Festival du Nouveau Cinéma (FNC) could be considered one of the most prominent of those said festivals. This year is the 43rd anniversary of the famous festival. The numerous screenings take place in movie theaters all around the city, notably at Concordia University. The FNC started on Oct. 8 with local director Phillipe Fallardeau’s last film The Good Lie and will be ending on Oct. 19 with the acclaimed documentary about Brazilian photograph Sebastião Salgado presented earlier this year at Cannes.

Toronto may have the TIFF, but we have the FNC and, as you will read in this two-part article, our beloved city does not have to feel like less of a major cinematographic metropolis. Here are some of the films The Concordian saw this week–stay tuned for more reviews next week.


A trip into a troubling world in which the importance of cultural traditions may outweigh law and what could be considered outright justice, Difret will make everyone uncomfortable. Still, this feeling is somewhat inevitable when dealing with a tale as unsettling as this one, especially when it is inspired by an actual true story. Difret, Zeresenay Mehari’s first full-length movie, is the account of an Ethiopian 14-year-old girl accused of killing a man who abducted and raped her so she could become his wife, as the local traditional customs dictates to do. It is also the story of a lawyer working for an NGO which defends women’s and children’s rights, fighting an outdated legal and social system willing to condemn this child to death for murder. This movie offers the public a sober and meticulously slow paced rendering of a dramatic reality. For such a controversial topic, this modesty is a surprisingly mature and enjoyable aspect, since it could have been replaced by an array of cheap cinematographic tricks to try and get sensational and tacky reactions from the audience. Difret ends up being a successful attempt at portraying a harsh but genuine reality of still-relevant cultural issues about social inequalities from around the world. Angelina Jolie is also the film’s executive producer, a first for her.


Je suis à toi
with contributions from Olivia Ranger-Enns

How much would you pay for love? That is the poignant and difficult question the film Je suis à toi, by Belgian director David Lambert, asks. Lambert’s work dissects how easily love can be bought, but not sold.

How much would you pay for love?

We are immediately immersed in the life of Lucas, a young Argentinian escort, who is saved from the world of prostitution by Henry, a Belgian baker. Lucas is frankly disgusted by Henry, who is both fat and ugly. The camera frequently zooms in on the physical differences between the characters; whereas Henry sports a hefty figure and grey whiskers, Lucas is dark, handsome and cat-like. Lucas has to share a bed with Henry, give him oral sex, and work early hours in the bakery. As Henry becomes more and more possessive, Lucas becomes more violent. He’s like caged tiger. When Lucas is accused of stealing from the cash register, Lucas wields a kitchen knife, screaming: “I am the thief? You are the thief!” Tensions rise further between the “lovers” until Audrey, Henry’s assistant, comes on scene. It is only at this point that true love strikes. Audrey and Lucas take long walks by the river and feed each other Chinese food. The love triangle just gets more and more complex as the question arises: can Lucas ever really “belong” to Henry?

Although some scenes are cliché (like the shower scenes following forced sex), the film is overall heartwarming. We see Lucas look straight into Audrey’s eyes, admitting that his sexuality is “fucked up” as Audrey tenderly wraps her arms around his skeletal torso. We get the message: Lucas does not need sex. Rather, he needs love and a home. There are funny elements in this film, which provides comedic relief from the heavy drama. Seeing tiny Lucas trying to pummel mountains of dough into the flour machine is hilarious enough. All in all, Lambert struck a sweet note, finding balance between despair and happiness. The film juxtaposes sex to love, independence to dependence, and loneliness to friendship. We all want to belong to someone, but paradoxically we can never belong to anyone but ourselves. Which brings us back to the question: how much would you pay for love?

Cavalo Dinheiro

Cavalo Dinheiro will undoubtedly not satisfy everyone. Its famous Portuguese director, Pedro Costa, is known by the cinema community as an important figure in what could be described as cinéma d’auteur. His movies are mostly focused on depicting the lives and difficulties of the less privileged, especially in Lisbon, his artistic muse. Cavalo Dinheiro perfectly fits these criteria.

The movie follows the nerve-shattered Ventura, played by a non-professional actor, and its metaphysical tribulations relating to his past. The film also portrays the hidden decrepit side of an ever-changing Lisbon. With its dark and magnificent photography, Cavalo Dinheiro shares a vision of poverty and inequalities’ moving beauty.

However, the movie feels more like an exercise of style and form than an actual movie. Even if you can get a sense of strength emanating from the raw charisma of the main characters, it still manages to be too much and too long for the average movie-goer. Sure, every once in a while it is good to watch a good “artsy” movie. Still, this ode to a past Lisbon, this social commentary about poverty is sadly but simply boring. It is the perfect example of an uncompromising director putting his own thoughts on screen. It also shows that sometimes, you should keep in mind the people willing to experience your artistic work while putting on canvas your vision. If not, people may end up leaving the movie theater behind before the end, and never give the film a second thought.

Hermosa Juventud

Jaime Rosales’ latest movie, Hermosa Juventud falls a bit flat.

Hermosa Juventud, Spanish director Jaime Rosales’ latest movie, follows the mundane but still eventful lives of two young adults in love living in Madrid. The movie also depicts an economically crippled Spain in which a whole generation of youth lives without much hope for the future. An unexpected pregnancy, an inability to provide what is needed to form a family, a stab wound and even an amateur porn scene, Hermosa Juventud provides plenty of pivotal moments to the story. Still, it is all about how this relationship will evolve through all those incidents. Moments of love, despair and melancholy show that the potential of the director and actors of this production. However, even with two decent main actors and an experienced director at the mast, Hermosa Juventud ends up feeling flat. An ever-present feeling of monotony saturates the movie. It does not mean that such a movie needs action-packed scenes like a car chase or a gunfight to be good, but even routinal moments can be interesting enough so that the audience can enjoy the screening.

Something feels off. It feels as though something is missing from the lives of those beautiful young people. Cinematographic elements and some original and interesting aspects like using a smartphone screen as a tool for transitioning through time are nice additions. Sadly, they are countered by some other unexciting and even annoying features like the omnipresence of the shaking camera. It makes Hermosa Juventud look like a cheap movie. Other ambitious characteristics, like the  absence of music in the movie, once again shows the potential of the creators, but still lacks the sparks necessary to hook the viewer. Overall, a good idea made into a dull movie.

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