Jessica Chastain in Salomé

BREAKING: Festival du nouveau cinéma’s 2015 program

Montreal’s prestigious fall film fest has announced its programming today. See the highlights here.

Forbidden Room

Guy Maddin’s The Forbidden Room

The full programming of the 44th Festival du nouveau cinéma (Oct. 718) dropped earlier today.

While the fest has developed a bit of a reputation for being a smaller-scale reprise of TIFF (especially amongst those of us who end up at both), its strategic placement at the tail end of major festival season means it has access to tons of buzzed films and things that are rapturously received but unlikely to find more than a cursory theatrical release. As more and more smaller, niche films find themselves released on VOD without a theatrical release, festivals like FNC become the best (and sometimes only) way to see a movie while the Internet is still talking about it.

Joining the already-announced closing film (Guy Maddin’s insane-looking homage to silent film, The Forbidden Room, shot at the Phi Centre and starring Roy Dupuis, Udo Kier, Mathieu Amalric and Charlotte Rampling) is the fest’s opening film, Jaco van Dormel’s Le tout Nouveau Testament, which explores what would happen if God was a single dad living in Brussels.

Jessica Chastain in Salomé

Jessica Chastain in Salomé

Amongst the bigger titles presented in and out of competition this year, you’ll find Pablo Larrain’s bleak religious satire The Club; arthouse French heartthrob Louis Garrel’s feature directorial debut Les deux amis; avant-garde musician and artist Laurie Anderson’s essay film Heart of a Dog; Al Pacino’s long-in-the-making Oscar Wilde adaptation Salomé, in which he stars alongside Jessica Chastain; acclaimed Italian auteur (though I’ll admit his films do nothing for me) Paolo Sorrentino’s Youth, starring Michael Caine and Harvey Keitel; Portuguese auteur Miguel Gomes’s (Tabu) three-part Arabian Nights; Jia Zhangke’s (A Touch of Sin) Mountains May Depart; Ciro Guerra’s Embrace of the Serpent, a Colombian film that has garnered almost exclusively rapturous reviews thus far in its festival career; Wim Wenders’ Every Thing Will Be Fine, which has garnered almost exactly the opposite; Joachim Trier’s finely observed Louder Than Bombs, starring Gabriel Byrne and Jesse Eisenberg; Lenny Abrahamson’s beautiful Room, which pops into the fest shortly before its Oct. 16 release.


Bruce McDonald’s Hellions

As always, local and semi-local films make a strong showing in FNC’s programming slate. One of the more anticipated films of the year locally is André Turpin’s Endorphine. It’s been nearly 15 years since the in-demand cinematographer’s last directorial effort, Un crabe dans la tête, and Turpin has cooked up a time-bending mystery starring Sophie Nélisse and Monia Chokri. Wiebke von Carolsfeld’s second film after Stay, The Saver, also premieres at the festival. It’s an adaptation of Edeet Ravel’s novel about an orphaned teenage girl in Montreal. Anne Émond follows up her well-received debut Nuit #1 with Les êtres chers, a 20-year slice-of-life about a man and his daughter, starring Karelle Tremblay and Maxim Gaudette. Mina Shum’s Ninth Floor is a documentary exploring the Sir George Williams (now Concordia) race riots of 1969; the event remains the largest student occupation in Canadian history.

Also making a splash since its TIFF debut is Andrew Cividino’s Sleeping Giant, a coming of age story set in Ontario cottage country. Bruce McDonald returns to the horror genre after Pontypool with the Halloween-themed Hellions, starring Chloe Rose and Robert Patrick, while Patricia Rozema’s first feature in seven years (15 if you discount the fact that her last film was the tween-oriented Kit Kittredge: An American Girl), Into the Forest, also hits the festival as a special presentation. It stars Evan Rachel Wood and Ellen Page. Remember is considered by many to be Atom Egoyan’s strongest film in at least a decade, which is promising. But it has received mostly middling reviews, which only goes to show how far the Canadian director has fallen. This geriatric revenge tale starring Christopher Plummer seems mostly silly — check it out for yourselves as it screens out of competition at FNC.

Yakuza Apocalypse

Takashi Miike’s Yakuza Apocalypse

The Temps zéro programming should fill the Fantasia-sized hole in your soul. While not technically 100 per cent horror-based, it gathers up the wild, woolly, violent, sexy and otherwise more prurient films on the festival circuit. That includes my favourite film of the year so far, Jeremy Saulnier’s cracking thriller Green Room; it stars Anton Yelchin, Imogen Poots and Patrick Stewart in the pressure-cooker story of a punk band held against their will in a fortified bunker by a bunch of unsavory neo-Nazi types. French provocateur Gaspar Noé returns with Love, an epic-length, 3D porn film with unsimulated sex scenes. While the consensus has generally been that the film is more conceptually interesting and daring than actually good, it’s the kind of gimmicky arthouse stunt that I find hard to resist.

Takashi Miike is a mainstay on the local festival scene. The prolific Japanese auteur’s latest feverdream Yakuza Apocalypse also hits the festival in the Temps zéo section alongside another cult Japanese director’s latest, Sion Sono’s Whispering Star. Rounding out the Temps zéro selection are the Filipino films Violator and Ruined Heart, Another Love Story Between a Criminal and a Whore; Rick Alverson’s (The Comedy) latest anti-comedy starring anti-comedian Gregg Turkington (aka Neil Hamburger), Entertainment; Ben Wheatley’s ambitious but slightly disappointing JG Ballard adaptation High-Rise starring Tom Hiddleston; the violent, erotic and psychedelic anime Belladona of Sadness, presented here in a new restored cut and a handful of other turbo-charged oddities. 

For complete programming details and ticketing info, head over to the Festival du nouveau cinéma website.