Already dealt a blow by pandemic measures that resulted in the planning of a hybrid in-person/online festival, this year’s edition of Festival du nouveau cinéma (FNC) had to be retooled at the last second following Monday’s announcement that Montreal was being designated a COVID-19 red zone. This year’s edition is now entirely online (give or take a few drive-in screenings), a decision that forced the suspension of certain titles.
Organizers surmise that the current program is about 75 per cent of what it originally was before Monday’s announcement, which includes My Salinger Year, the closing-night film which was originally slated to hit theatres on Oct. 23, a few days after the end of the festival. The film will now be available to stream online for a period of 24 hours. The vast majority of this year’s programming will thus be available on-demand between Oct. 7 and 31, with only a few events being tied to specific dates.
Amongst those are two free screenings timed to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the October Crisis. Both Les ordres and Octobre were set to screen at the Imperial as special presentations from Éléphant; instead, they will stream on Oct. 10 (Octobre) and Oct. 16 (Les ordres). On Oct. 15 at 7 p.m., you can stream the Soirée du cinéma pour la paix – Spécial Wapikoni, a collection of shorts produced by Wapikoni mobile. The shorts will be available to stream separately, but Oct. 15 also includes a discussion session following the screening. The festival also offers a couple of online masterclasses from Philippe Falardeau (Oct. 16 at 11 a.m.) and animators Michelle and Uri Kranot (Oct. 17 at 10 a.m.).
Ten films will be screened as part of the official competition including Valentyn Vasyanovych’s post-apocalyptic sci-fi film Atlantis, the Ukrainian war film Bad Roads, the Brazilian film Desterro, the disturbing animated dystopian film Kill It and Leave This Town and Topside, a film about a mother and child living in tunnels underneath New York City. The competition section of FNC is usually the one offering the most discoveries and left-field programming choices — much of which is best left to be discovered.
In terms of local content, the festival initially lost its opening film, Sophie Dupuis’s Souterrain. As it was slated to open the festival and hit theatres soon after, the film was first pulled from the schedule. It is now slated to screen as part of the FNC drive-in theatre at the airport in Dorval. Souterrain screens on Oct. 7th, followed by a series of rep screenings in the same location. Pink Floyd: The Wall, The Shining and Total Recall are being screened as well as a marathon of all four Mad Max films.
Nevertheless, there is a national competition section to this year’s festival including new films from Olivier Godin, avant-garde pioneer Mike Hoolboom and Kaveh Nabatian as well as Violation, a new film from the directing team of Dusty Mancinelli and Madeleine Sims-Fewer, which drew comparison to the work of Catherine Breillat and Lars von Trier when it screened at TIFF earlier this year. The latest film from queer auteur Bruce LaBruce, Saint-Narcisse, is screening out of competition.
Paula Beer won an acting prize at the Berlin festival this year for her role in Christian Petzold’s Undine, which screens as part of FNC’s Les incontournables section alongside a documentary about Wim Wenders and new films from Ivan Tverdovskiy, Mohammad Rasoulof (his There Is No Evil took home the Golden Bear in Berlin) and Radu Jude.
Les nouveaux alchimistes and the Panorama international sections are the most diverse categories in the FNC program; the former prioritizes experimental film and efforts from filmmakers perhaps not known for their work in film, while the latter offers a wide swath of international productions. As is to be expected, many of the higher-profile films originally programmed have been held by their distributors, which makes this year’s edition a particularly exploratory one. Worth mentioning out of the Panorama international selection is Last and First Men, the first and last directorial effort of composer Johan Johansson, who died in 2018.
Temps Ø, the section dedicated to genre movies, has new films from Abel Ferrara (Siberia, starring Willem Dafoe), Guillaume Nicloux and Sion Sono as well as a handful of other titles including the acclaimed anti-racist comedy Tout simplement noir starring JoeyStarr and Mathieu Kassovitz. ■
For the complete Festival du nouveau cinéma (FNC) 2020 program, please visit their website.
For more film and TV coverage, please visit our Film & TV section.