Montreal film festivals 2020
deliver despite COVID
There’s something for everyone at Montreal’s numerous cinema festivals
By Byron Toben
In this continuing housebound time, I found myself so busy monitoring Montreal, New York and British virtual theatre presentations that I missed almost all of the similarly transmitted Montreal annual film festivals.
For the record, below is a list of seven now completed and three still ongoing. Each shows the 2020 dates they were shown and which continuous season they were in.
A few preliminary remarks on some cancellations:
The contentious World Film Festival, once the most glamorous of the lot, has, alas, slowly diminished over the past 4 or 5 years and was entirely cancelled for 2020, even for virtual showings. It and its attached film market will be sorely missed by Montrealers who appreciated its niche in displaying films from most countries of the world, where improved technology and cinema exposure have upgraded local skills.
Although the cozy Cine Gael Irish Film Series was forced to cancel the balance of its 2020 line up… it did kindly provide a list of Irish short films which can be accessed any time.
However, the loss of funding from some historic backers coupled with the rise of the Toronto film festival may have done it in for good. Can cantankerous founder Serge Losique, now 88, pull another rabbit out of the hat? Failing that, can another entity carry on in a more modest way?
Although the cozy Cine Gael Irish Film Series was forced to cancel the balance of its 2020 line up midway through its schedule due to the pandemic, it did kindly provide a list of Irish short films which can be accessed any time. Westmount Mag posted that list at westmountmag.ca/irish-short-film-playlists
Film festivals now over
World Film Festival, est. 1977 (43rd)
2020 season, August – September
New Cinema Festival, est. 1972 (49th)
2020 season, October 7 to 18
Cinemania, est. 1995 (25th)
French films with English subtitles
2020 season, November 4 to 15
Black Film Festival, est. 2004 (16th)
2020 season, September 23 to October 4
Cine Gael Irish Films, est.1992 (28th)
2020 season, January 24 to May 1
(4 films shown, the balance of 5 cancelled after March 12)
Fantasia Film Festival, est. 1996 (24th)
2020 season, August 20 to September 2
Israel Film Festival, est. 2005 (15th)
2020 season, June 10 to 21
WestmountMag viewers who may have seen some selections from the above list are welcome to let us know any they particularly enjoyed and why.
In addition to the above annual festivals, there are occasional ethnic films of merit shown as mini-festivals from time to time, often at the Cinema du parc or the Cinémathèque québécoise. Countries or areas recurrent include Latin America, Greece and Eastern Europe.
Also, some festivals show some films as part of a greater festival, such as the Arab World Festival.
Ongoing film festivals
RIDM Documentary Films, est. 1998 (23rd)
2020 season, November 12 to December 2
South Asian Film Festival, est. 2011 (10th)
2020 season, November 19 to 29
image+nation LGBTQueer Montréal, est. 1987 (33rd)
2020 season, November 19 to December 6
Feature image: frame from the documentary Cunningham, courtesy of RIDM
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.