What’s hot at the Nouveau Cinéma fest

The FNC (Oct. 8–19) has announced its slate of programming. Be stoked.

Robert Pattinson in David Cronenberg’s Maps to the Stars

Festival du nouveau cinéma is a strange beast. Coming in October as it does, it misses the boat on most festival premieres but comes so close to the end of the major fests that it nevertheless presents many high-profile films before their official release. Their programming is eclectic enough that it can encompass movies from Fantasia faves like Sion Sono and Takashi Miike, “difficult” international auteurs like Pedro Costa and crowd-pleasing Oscar hopefuls from the likes of Jean-Marc Vallée. It also has an impressive line-up of screenings of restored classics from directors like Volker Schlondorff (Baal), Orson Welles (the recently uncovered Too Much Johnson) Ken Russell (Crimes of Passion) and Jean-Claude Lauzon (Un zoo la nuit, hopefully not preceded by an industry wankfest this time), ensuring that nearly every breed of cinephile finds something worth their while.

Opening film The Good Lie
Opening film The Good Lie

The film fest opens with the already announced The Good Lie, Philippe Falardeau’s Hollywood debut starring Reese Witherspoon as a counsellor to a group of Sudanese refugees. Notices from TIFF point to this as being the lesser of two Witherspoon based-on-a-true-story dramas directed by Québécois directors this year (!), but it should be worth a look nonetheless. That other movie, Jean-Marc Vallée’s Wild (you can find my first impressions from TIFF here), is also screening at FNC. Completing the trifecta of local directors going Hollywood is Francois Girard with the Dustin Hoffman-starring choir drama Boychoir, which is only Girard’s fourth feature in over 20 years.

Amongst other TIFF holdovers are Marjane Satrapi’s positively demented The Voices (starring Ryan Reynolds and Gemma Arterton), the Midnight Madness hit horror film It Follows, David Cronenberg’s Maps to the Stars (with John Cusack and Julianne Moore), Jean-Luc Godard’s Goodbye to Language 3D (which, you’ll recall, shared the Jury Prize with Mommy at Cannes) Bruno Dumont’s epic 200-minute dark comedy P’tit Quinquin, a transformed Jake Gyllenhaal in Dan Gilroy’s Nightcrawler and the twisted sign-language drama The Tribe. FNC programmers have done a bang-up job of picking out the cream of the TIFF crop — you’ll notice there are no boondoggles like Men, Women and Children or the ill-received Manglehorn (which I actually enjoyed) on hand here.

FNC is also a haven for local films, many of which will be premiering at this year’s festival. Jimmy Larouche follows up his harrowing debut La cicatrice with Antoine et Marie, a sure-to-be-a-bummer drama about date rape starring Martine Francke and Sébastien Ricard. It opens up alongside Carole Laure’s fourth feature, Love Projet, an ensemble film once again centred around the world of dance (her debut, CQ2, also drew upon it). Maxime Giroux’s Félix et Meira won the Best Canadian Feature award at TIFF and is now making its home-turf debut at FNC; this romantic drama about the relationship between a rich Québécois slacker and a Hassidic housewife stars Martin Dubreuil and Hadas Yaron. Also worth noting are new films by Rodrigue Jean (Full blast) and Rafaël Ouellet (Camion) as well La génération porn, the debut feature by Concordia grad Pascal Plante.

The documentary slate is also fully loaded this year, with an extensive retrospective of the late Peter Wintonick’s work toplining this year’s series of homages. A special program of music-centric film is also on the program, accompanying a special 30th anniversary presentation of the seminal Talking Heads movie Stop Making Sense. These include a new Björk concert film co-directed by Peter Strickland (Berberian Sound Studio, The Duke of Burgundy), feature-length docs about long-running U.K. punk rockers New Model Army and Elliott Smith, a documentary about electro chaarbi (a fairly recent musical movement from Egypt) and a retrospective of Cambodian rock ‘n’ roll. Documentaries about film director Samuel Fuller, shlockmeisters Cannon Films (but not the one I saw at TIFF — this one comes with the seal of approval of its subjects), French winemakers, cult filmmaker Richard Stanley’s doomed attempt at making The Island of Dr. Moreau and the daily lives of the inhabitants of a Plateau rooming house are also screening at this year’s fest.

And that’s not all — conferences, screenings of seminal Quebec films from Jean-Claude Lord and Pierre Patry, Q&As, interactive performances, short programs, musical performances and tons of other events are also on the program. Check it all out at the Festival’s website. ■

The Festival du nouveau cinéma runs from Oct. 8 to 19 at various locations.