Film festivals galore end 2019
A look at the year’s remaining Montreal film festivals
By Byron Toben
The once mighty Montreal World Film Festival, usually held during the last weeks of August until Labour Day, has now, after a few years of mounting problems, taken a one-year ‘hiatus’. Whether it will re-emerge is problematic at this time.
In the meantime, local film aficionados can select offerings from several other established film festivals during the remaining months of 2019.
September 24 to 29
Montreal International Black Film Festival
Now in its 15th year, this assemblage will also visit Toronto and Halifax in 2020.
This year’s program features 90 films from 25 countries. Venues include the Cinema Imperial, the Cinéma du Parc, the Cinémathèque Québécoise, the Grande Bibliothèque and the Cinéma du Musée.
Many fine subjects. Of particular interest is the opening film, Harriet, about the legendary Harriet Tubman, an escaped slave, who shepherded hundreds of others to freedom on the “underground railroad”.
Her planned depiction on a U.S. postage stamp has been delayed by the Trump administration. (Canada recently issued a new $10 bill depicting Nova Scotia black heroine Olivia Desmond.)
For details, visit MontrealBlackFilm.com
October 9 to 20
Festival of New Cinema
Now in its 48th year, this long-lived festival has, like the World Film Festival, been plagued with internal problems, hopefully now solved with some new board members and programmers.
The full program is not available until October 1, but selections seem to include new works by big names, such as Pedro Almodovar (Spain) with Douleur et Gloire, Ken Loach (U.K.) with Sorry We Missed You, and Agnes Varda (France) with the documentary Varda par Agnes.
For more details, visit nouveaucinema.ca
November 7 to 17
Cinemania – French Films with English subtitles
Now in its 25th year, this outstandingly well-curated festival attracts many Francophones who do not need the subtitles because of the excellent selections, some of which might not go on to later general release. Although the Cinema imperial remains its main venue, some films are scheduled for the Théâtre Outremont, the Cinéma du Parc, the Cinéma du Musée and the Cinémathèque Québécoise.
Special panels on film subjects and interviews with visiting notables are included.
For more information, visit festivalcinemania.com
November 14 to 24
RIDIM – Montreal International Documentary Film Festival
Now in its 22nd year, this unique festival, which started modestly, has expanded to include about 150 films, workshops, panels and market, drawing 63,000 viewers.
Venues are spread to include Cinémathéque Québécoise, Cinéma du Parc, Concordia University H-110, Cinéplex Odeon Quartier Latin, Cinéma Moderne and Cinéma du Musée.
Montreal is acknowledged as a world film documentary capital so holding this festival here is certainly fitting.
Detailed programming available later.
For more information, visit ridm.ca
Also spread out over the three months is a film club, which, while not a formal festival, is of note.
September 8 to December 8
CineClub Film Society
Now in its 27th season, this reasonably priced series shows at two Concordia venues, VA-114 and Cinema de Seve. It presents a mixture of classics and overlooked gems in the best prints available. The September 8 event leads off with Fellini’s La Dolce Vita. October features Charade (Cary Grant/Audrey Hepburn) and silent masterpiece The Hunchback of Notre Dame.
For details, visit Cineclubfilmsociety.com
Feature image: Agnes Varda in Faces Places courtesy of Agnes Varda – Cine Tamaris
Byron Toben, a past president of The Montreal Press Club, has been WestmountMag.ca’s theatre reviewer since July 2015. Previously, he wrote for since terminated web sites Rover Arts and Charlebois Post, print weekly The Downtowner and print monthly The Senior Times. He also is an expert consultant on U.S. work permits for Canadians.