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The Documentary Film Festival – And now, for some “true” reality

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From the drama of the migrants trying to reach the shores of Europe, to the dangers that a freelance journalist must face while covering events in turbulent areas such as the Middle East: this is what one can find at the upcoming Montreal International Documentary Festival which recently announced the lineup for its 19th edition to be held November 10-20.

 

Mara Gourd-Mercado, Executive Director of the Montreal International Documentary Festival
Mara Gourd-Mercado, Executive Director of the Montreal International Documentary Festival

The opening film, “Fire at Sea” directed by Gianfranco Rossi (Italy-France co-production), focuses on the small island of Lampedusa, the landing point for a large part of the desperate people from the Middle East and Africa trying to find refuge in Europe. The island is described as “a reluctant symbol of the migrant crisis.” Rossi takes a very particular view of the situation, different from the usual reports we see on this massive migration and the reactions it produces in the countries where they arrive.

 

Opening film "Fire at Sea" by Gianfranco Rossi focuses on the drama of migrants trying to reach the shores of Europe
Opening film “Fire at Sea” by Gianfranco Rossi focuses on the drama of migrants trying to reach the shores of Europe

Not less poignant is the movie that will close the Doc Fest. “Freelancers on the Front Lines” by Quebec director Santiago Bertolino, follows the vicissitudes of Jesse Rosenfeld, a young freelance journalist working with the “The Daily Beast” and other outlets, who has chosen to report from regions where there are always something newsworthy going on: Egypt, Turkey, Iraq, Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories, but where journalists must also face many dangers. The film also covers other potentially conflicting aspects of the freelance job: negotiations with publications and the search for contacts on the ground. This latest Bertolino’s work is described as “An essential film for anyone who wants to understand how the world’s big stories are filtered by the written media.”

 

The closing film, "Freelancer on the Front Lines" by Santiago Bertolino portrays the life of a journalist in dangerous areas of the world
The closing film, “Freelancer on the Front Lines” by Santiago Bertolino portrays the life of a journalist in dangerous areas of the world

The Doc Fest contains four categories: Official Competition, Panorama, Retrospective, and Contest. There are also some parallel activities, including discussions, special screenings, presentations for families and children, and installations. One of those events that might seem interesting for the Anglophone community is the discussion set for Nov. 16, following the screening of “Quebec My Country Mon Pays” by John Walker, at 8 p.m. at Concordia University. In the words of the organizers, “Since the Quiet Revolution, countless Anglo-Quebecers have left the province, often reluctantly. The malaise of those who have stayed is often palpable. This sensitive topic, seldom discussed in French-language media, is confronted head-on by John Walker in ‘Quebec My Country Mon Pays’. Several panelists will discuss the issues raised by the film.”

 

But not only political or social issues are the focus of the wide selection of documentary films to be screened during the eleven-day event: “Rocks in my Pockets” by Signe Baumane (U.S.A.) presents a frank story of mental illness. “Raving Iran” by Susanne Regina Meures (Switzerland) shows how some Iranian youth try to keep alive their underground techno scene with the help of two brave DJs. “Cinema Novo” by Eryk Rocha (Brazil) takes a look at one of the most innovative filmmaking movements in Latin America in the 1950s and 1960s, Cinema Novo which put Brazil on the map of the filmmaking world.

 

And once again, at a time when many people—misled by television—may believe that “reality” is what is portrayed on so-called reality TV, the Documentary Festival is an occasion to experience a true depiction of what is outside our more or less comfortable surroundings. For detailed information about schedule, tickets, venues and full description of films visit www.ridm.ca

 

By Sergio Martinez – totimes.ca

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