What to watch at RIDM this weekend

Our screen team looks at four films screening this weekend as part of RIDM.

The 22nd annual Montreal documentary film festival RIDM (Rencontres Internationales du Documentaire de Montréal) runs through Nov. 24. Here are reviews of four films screening today.

Espero tua (re)volta

Youthfulness runs through Espero tua (re)volta, a film about the last decade of social movements in Brazil. Told from the perspective of three young people who address the viewer, shape the narrative and offer context, the film explores the social causes they’ve fought for since 2013. Beginning with the first significant social movement of the 2010s, where hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets to protest public transit fare increases, we see the beginning of a country utilizing their right to protest as a means of initiating change. The protests expanded to touch on issues of corruption and police brutality and eventually blocked the proposed increases, which would have been devastating to minimum wage workers in the country.

The film follows how these protests and social movements build on each other, as citizens of the country develop strategies and learn about different social movements. Adopting pop aesthetics, the movie is bright, musical and often addresses the audience directly. The style might oversimplify in some regards, but it becomes essential as a way of explaining and highlighting Brazil’s enormity and complicated political situation. Like many Brazilian films released this year, Espero tua (re)volta, is being released under a far-right government led by Jair Bolsonaro. While always present, the rise of the far-right and an increasingly empowered police force leads to increased violence. As one of the subjects explains, just as we’ve watched a police officer brutalize a peaceful young person, “If this is what they will do on camera, imagine what they do when the camera is off?” What begins as a film of hope dissolves into fear. The spark of revolution might be dimmed, but it is hardly burned out. (Justine Smith)

Espero tua (re)volta screens Friday, November 15 at 3 p.m. in Cinémathèque québecoise (335 de Maisonneuve E.) and on Sunday, November 24 at 6 p.m. at Quartier Latin (350 Émery).


Blurring the line between documentary and fiction, Denis Côté’s latest film Wilcox examines the life of a social outcast. Inspired by real-life cases like Chris McCandless and Lillian Alling, people who decided to pack up and walk away from it all only to go missing or be found dead, the film imagines what that life of solitude and isolation might look and sound like. The film follows the titular Wilcox as he wanders the rural Quebec landscape, living in abandoned homes, stealing canned goods and occasionally making contact with the locals. 

The film uses a variety of techniques to keep us at a distance. The camera often remains at a voyeuristic range, and the sound design integrates disruptive radio signals that distort and hide dialogue. Wilcox operates as a silent movie, allowing the audience to fill in details and to ask questions about what kind of person would choose such a life. What kind of person would choose solitude and survival over civilization? Is it necessarily madness or desperation, or, like the great writer Henry David Thoreau, can it be a philosophical choice? Guillaume Tremblay, who plays Wilcox, has a gentle face but also a kind of inscrutability. He has a peaceful presence that engenders empathy, if not answers. (JS)

Wilcox screens Friday, November 15, at 8:30 p.m. in Cinémathèque québecoise (335 de Maisonneuve E.) and on Sunday, November 17, at 3 p.m. in Cinéma du Parc (3575 du Parc)

Mr. Leather

There are, broadly, two kinds of documentaries: documentaries made to shed light on something the viewer almost certainly doesn’t know about, and documentaries meant to go in-depth on something that the viewer is already in the pocket for. Most of the movies that play RIDM are of the first variety; most of the padding churned out by streaming services is of the latter variety. Daniel Nolasco’s loving exploration of Brazil’s leather fetishism scene is a little bit of both.

Framed around the 2018 finals of the Mr. Leather contest, Mr. Leather explores not only the specifics of the lives of its major players but also the structure and importance of the scene. As you may have guessed, it doesn’t seem like there are hundreds upon hundreds of gay guys in Brazil who have thrown themselves fully into the lifestyle — it remains, I think, a niche interest even in its world, and anything that niche is automatically interesting.

Where Mr. Leather perhaps becomes more alienating for a general audience (choppy, incomprehensible subtitles notwithstanding) is when it indulges in that same fetishism without much perspective. I have no idea if Nolasco is into leather, and it ultimately doesn’t matter, but there are long sequences of leather play that soon outlast their necessity as anthropological sources. The best way I can describe it is that it’s as if a 90-minute documentary about jam band culture included seven minutes of Phish locking down on some bongo and slap-bass interplay. As I mentioned, however, the copy that I saw had pretty poor subtitles that somehow got progressively more abstract as the film went along. Still, this is by far the best leather daddy documentary I’ve ever seen. (Alex Rose)

Mr. Leather screens Friday, November 15 at 9 p.m. in Cinémathèque québecoise (335 de Maisonneuve E.) and on Sunday, November 24 at 8 p.m. in Cinéma du Parc (3575 du Parc). 


Sung-A Yoon’s Overseas chronicles the training of OFM (Overseas Filipino Maids), Filipinas who work as maids for overseas clients (mainly, it seems, in the Middle East). Most already have some experience in the matter, but the conditions are so difficult and the abuse from the employers so widespread that they wind up returning to the Philippines and starting again. All of the women have families and work entirely to support them — in the world of OFMs, 20-hour workdays are common and 500 euros a month is considered an incredible wage. 

Most of Overseas is fly-on-the-wall footage of the training sessions, the most powerful bits of which are definitely when the women take turns roleplaying as the abusive clients. The women share impossibly depressing and fucked up stories with humour and resilience, shedding light on an aspect of human nature that we tend to dispassionately shower with chants of “so brave”  — in this case, it’s more than just bravery. Yoon also peppers the film with scripted monologues that don’t work quite as well — their aesthetic is more framed, more careful than the casual footage, which makes them stand out. Nevertheless, Overseas is a touching and surprisingly humorous (perhaps hopeful is a better term) treatment of something that most of us can’t even begin to fathom. (AR)

Overseas screens Friday, November 15 at 8:30 p.m. in Cinéma du Parc (3575 du Parc) and Monday, November 18, at 8 p.m. in Cinéma du Parc.
See the complete RIDM program here.