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NMFF: Day 5

The New Montreal FilmFest is starting (for real this time).

Ooooohh. Aaaaaaah. Something seems to have happened at the festival. Have Spectra’s prayers been answered? The press office now seems to be as crowded as a hive of bees. There are actually people in the room! The 8 computers for journalists are now occupied most of the time, a flagrant contrast with the first few days of the festival.

Screenings, while they remain mostly empty are now more crowded than ever. I was surprised to see about 100 people at a Lithuanians movie screening on a Thursday at 5PM!! Who the heck wants to see a Lithuanian film at that time? Well, apparently a hundred people did—mostly aged Lithuanians. On the first day of the festival, a 5PM Russian film got about 30 spectators or so. So, the attendance seems to be getting bigger. Later today I went to a screening of Sabu’s Shissho. In the large St-Denis I auditorium there were a couple hundred people. It was about filled to half of his capacity, which is quite good compared to the first few days of the festival.

Director: Sabu (L) with Fest Director: Moritz de Hadeln

Director for Guy X: Saul Meyzstein

There are still some small problems with the organization of the festival however. Every night at 6PM there are small press junkets with a few of directors. The names of the directors aren’t announced beforehand, so we have to guess based on the schedule of the day which of the directors will attend. It’s not ideal to say the least. In my last piece I mentioned how press conferences were badly attended. Unfortunately, they still are. It’s not the festival’s fault by any means but in light of this poor attendance, they could and they should make them available to the public. People without accreditations can’t even get in the building where press conferences are held unless they sneak in while no one is paying attention. At a press conference today, a film student who wasn’t accredited had to be escorted into the building by a press relation person so that he could attend the press conference he wanted to. At least they were nice enough to let him in but how many cinephiles will go through the hassle of calling beforehand to make sure they can get in. Not many. Even the Montreal World Film Festival press conferences, which are opened to the public, don’t have an attendance of more than 20-30 people, journalists and cinephiles alike. So, I don’t see why the NMFF couldn’t do the same thing.

(L) Missing actors, (R) Sabu

Before concluding the night with Shisso, I went to the red carpet. For some reasons, the actors of the films which were here on the opening night of the festival have left before the premiere of their film unfortunately! Nonetheless, there was a good turn out of photographers considering this isn’t a major film. Things definitely seem to go better at the New Montreal FilmFest. Despite small problems here an there, the remaining few days of the festival look brighter. For the first time since the festival started, there seems to be hope in the air!! The festival’s ambiance is starting to get more interesting as the last weekend approaches and, hopefully, cinephiles will be attending in great numbers the last weekend of the festival.

What will happen with the festival next year ? Will they receive another $2millions in subventions next year despite their deceiving first edition? Who cares ? There are only 3 days left, let’s enjoy the films for now—there are some very good ones—and let’s worry about politics later.

* * *

Some Highlights for the last 3 days of the festival

Many of the films that were covered in the past few days are still playing at the festival. Some of the films that I haven’t talked about so far and that have screenings in the next few days include ;

Canada, 2005, Dir. : Robin Aubert
Special Events
A journalist investigates mysterious deaths in a remote Quebec village.

L’avion (The Plane)
France/Germany, 2005, Dir. : Cédric Kahn
Official Competition. International Premiere
Charly didn’t want a plane for Christmas but he’d love to see his missing Dad one more time.

Escape to Canada
Canada, 2005, Dir. : Albert Nerenberg
Canadian Filmmakers. World Premiere
A satirical exploration of the notion that Canada – not the U.S. – is the real freedom-loving country in
North America, by the author of the outstanding documentary Stupidity.

Joyeux Noël (Merry Christmas)
Special Events
France/Germany/United Kingdom/Belgium/Romania, 2004, Dir. : Christian Carion
North American Premiere
France’s new candidate for the 2005 Oscar nominations for best foreign film.

Your Heart in My Brain
Planet Earth
Germany, 2005, Dir. : Rosa von Praunheim
World Premiere
Bad boy of the German cinema, gay filmmaker Rosa von Praunheim pushes the envelope in a film about

Guy X
United Kingdom/Canada/Iceland, 2004, Dir. : Saul Metzstein
Official Competition. North American Premiere
An enlisted U.S. army officer expecting to be posted to Hawaii gets air-dropped to a strange military base
in Greenland. Starring Jason Biggs.

Pride & Prejudice
United Kingdom, 2005. Dir : Joe Wright
New Closing film
Sumptuous big-screen adaptation of Jane Austen’s classic novel, starring Donald Sutherland, Keira Knightley, Judi Dench and Kelly Reilly.

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