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Very Hot Topic (More than 25 Replies) Montreal WFF 2005 (Read 26,448 times)
Rembrandt
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Re: Montreal WFF 2005
Reply #15 - 11. Sep 2005 at 01:51
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I want to thank you for this excelent review. There will be movies that I will be looking for in the future because of it.
  
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Re: Montreal WFF 2005
Reply #16 - 11. Sep 2005 at 17:30
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Thanks everyone for your comments. While I have been waiting for joseph to chime in on The Lost Domain, it's time to press forward. The further away from the festival I get the more likely it is that I suffer another of those geriatic conditions, forgetfulness!  Cheesy
So on to

Wednesday

Wednesday is the one day of lousy weather while I am in Montreal. The after effects of Katrina have made their way north and we have a steady dose of rain all day. This is particularly dreary news for me as I am on foot and have quite a bit of walking to cover today's schedule. Former boy actor Zack Lipovsky's first short film as a director falls victim to a schedule reshuffle due to the weather and josephk keeping me up too late the night before.  Grin
Donning my trusty hooded sweatshirt (to keep dry - not for warmth) I am off to the day's first screening.

11:59

A young ad jaded TV photojournalist, Aaron Dougherty has just broken the biggest national news story of the year, the arrest of a key suspect in two child murders. His career is at an all-time high and his future at his news station looks bright. Suddenly, his life is thrown into chaos when he wakes up in a field in the middle of nowhere and discovers that he has been missing for the last 24 hours. He now finds himself fighting for both his career and his sanity as he attempts to piece together what happened. Aaron realizes that the wrong man may have been arrested for the murders and the media are being manipulated. But how and why is this tied to the missing 24 hours?

The only American feature I saw during the festival, I picked this hoping it would be a good mystery. It turned out to be not quite what I expected with an ending that didn't explain many details (unusual for an American film). Though obviously low budget, it was still very worth watching. It was an unexpected bonus that the film featured childhood flashbacks of the main character and ends with an attempt to save the life of a young boy. Film was shot in the greater Denver, Colorado area.

Rating: 8/10
Boy Actors: Marco Helson, Tanner Howard

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After this screening, I decided it was time to make a return visit to the CineRobotheque of the National Film Board of Canada. I had planned a long afternoon of film watching but the weather shorted out their system and I was able to see only one film, fortunately it was a good one.

Bayo

In a tiny outpost on Newfoundland's Bonavista Bay, ten-year-old Bayo awaits the return of his grandfather, Philip Longlan, a legendary fishing captain who is coming home to stay after sixty years at sea. Bayo's mother, Sharon, wants to move to Toronto. However, once ashore, Philip feels driven to go back to the sea--on his own terms. Bayo wants to remain at Tickle Cove with his grandfather and mother. Finally, all three come to terms with themselves, with each other, and with their destinies. Based on the novel Lightly by Chipman Hall.

This feature length film dates back to 1985, but as far as I know it has never been given a proper video release in the US. That's a shame as Stephen McGrath gave a nice performance that deserved a wider audience. The plot broke no new ground even for 1985, but the performances were good enough to keep me interested. The film's credits roll on a favorite song of mine, Carrickfergus. If they ever do remaster this one and release it, maybe they could update the closing number with Declan's version.  Grin

Rating: 8/10
Boy Actors: Stephen McGrath, Richard Edwards
Content Alert: PJ's, Socks, Boy/Man Kiss
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With the rest of my planned time at the CineRobotheque available to me, I have time for a proper lunch before my next film - a rarity in this week of almost non stop film viewing.

King of the Children

Set during the twilight of the Cultural Revolution, and chronicles the experiences of a young man who is sent from the city to the country for his prescribed dose of agricultural labour. Upon arriving in the remote mountain region, he is asked not to work in the fields but rather to act as a teacher, even though he lacks any formal qualifications. Confronted with the apathy of his students, the young man decides to abandon the Maoist textbook they were using including such tedious exercises as copying out all the characters of the dictionary. Instead, he teaches his students to think about the world around them. Just as he is beginning to connect with his pupils, the authorities get word of his pedagogical heresies and severely reprimand him.

This film was screening as part of a tribute to Chen Kaige, the director better known for Farewell My Concubine and Together. King of the Children is an early work, made in 1987 and unavailable on video in the US. The print was in less than pristine shape, but for something this rare you take what you can get. This was an interesting look at what it takes to be a successful teacher particularly one operating under the limitations that Leo Gan has. This film does not stand out against other student/teacher films that have been made through the years, but considering where and how it was made it does deserve some respect. That is one of the nice things about film festivals, they offer an opportunity to resurrect some old films that you figure you might never see. Although this film didn't particularly move me, I'm still grateful for the opportunity to see it.

Rating: 6/10
Boy Actor: Yang Xuewen, others
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Letters of Service

A nurse pieces together the haunted past of a 100-year-old psychiatric patient about whom nothing is known but his name and place of birth.

No young actors to speak of. Although I usually like mysteries, this one was told in a visual style that didn't agree with me. A nice interview about the film is in the links.

Rating: 4/10

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The Mighty Celt

Donal lives with his mother Kate in Belfast. To make ends meet, he works long hours after school for the local dog trainer, Good Joe. It becomes obvious that Donal has a very special way with dogs, and while Good Joe is not a man to keep his word, he strikes a deal with Donal that he can't refuse. Entering in the underground world of dog racing, he offers Donal the "Mighty Celt" if the greyhound can win three races in a row. Meanwhile life at home becomes more interesting when O, an enigmatic former IRA man and a figure from Kate's past, reappears on the scene. O and Donal develop a friendship. However, Good Joe is deeply suspicious of O and Kate is weary of letting him back into her life.

This was one of the better boy performances I saw at this year's festival. The Observer's headline of the film is "Tyrone McKenna shines in The Mighty Celt" and I quite agree with them. Although the plot points are recycled from many other films about 1)boys and dogs and 2) Northern Ireland,  this film is carried by a wonderful performance by its young lead. He is able to carry off what is expected of the lead in a boy/dog film without ever losing any of his standard issue Northern Irish grittiness. I believe the film is just getting a UK release now, so perhaps some of our correspondents from over there will chime in with their opinions.

Rating: 8.5/10
Boy Actors: Tyrone McKenna, Bernard Manning
Content Alert: Boy/Dog kiss, Smoking

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Kvish

In the Israeli desert, a couple is making love beside a memorial pillar. A year earlier, on the same road, four Palestinian workers kidnapped their Israeli employer and placed him on trial.

The plot description does a wonderful job of describing what happens in the film. No real insight can be gained from this film by anyone not deeply familiar with the conflict. I am assuming for instance that the colors painted on the unfortunate employer's face by his captors have some significance, but I'm not savvy enough to know what  ???

Rating: 6/10

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Shonen To Hoshi To Jitensha

When his brother, a champion cyclist, dies in a road accident, 14-year-old Satoru is devastated. His brother was everything he isn't. At least that's what he feels. That's when he sets out on a bike trip and discovers an inner strength he never thought he had.

At long last an Asian film that didn't lose me.  Grin
This film is about Satoru's recovery from despair as a result of his spending time on the road with traveling clown/puppeteer/carnival entertainer Otomatsu, a man with some major demons to exorcise as well. This mismatched pair find the support they need from each other to confront their problems and continue on with their lives. They are even able to help turn around the life of a young reform school runaway whom they come in contact with. Despite all of this positivity there is a fair amount of death hanging over this picture. Satoru's brother has died, as has Otomatsu's son and their young runaway comes from a place where suicide is not unheard of. I read somewhere that this film hopes to positively motivate Japanese adolescents and to provide them some encouragement. One line in the film underscores this purpose. Satoru explains to his runaway girlfriend that they are "mid-day stars. No one can see us shining."


Rating: 9/10
Boy Actors: Ryo Tanaka, others
Content Alert: Socks

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« Last Edit: 15. Sep 2005 at 21:11 by Zabladowski »  
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Re: Montreal WFF 2005
Reply #17 - 15. Sep 2005 at 05:32
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The sad thing is that we will probably not get to see most of these movies.

Thanks Zab and Joseph for alerting us, and spending all that time writing up reviews for us. It is appreciated.
  
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Re: Montreal WFF 2005
Reply #18 - 17. Sep 2005 at 22:52
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cal, don't be so pessimistic.  Smiley

Thanks to the internet, more films seem to be available to more people than ever before. You Aussies are also blessed with World Movies a channel which has no US equivalent.

I'm confident that a goodly number of these film will eventually surface.
  
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Re: Montreal WFF 2005
Reply #19 - 18. Sep 2005 at 00:15
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Thursday

Drive

Lonely and desperate, Richard Peel pilots his beat-up station wagon down the freeway. He has no money, no gas and nowhere to go. Between contemplations of suicide he flashes back on how he arrived at this sorry state.

My second last day of festing in Montreal begins with a whimper. I chose the short film Drive as it will put me back at the National Film Board and it appeared to be marginally relevant to the readers of this board. Although it did feature some brief appearances by young actors, there is not enough content to recommend it on that basis. I also can't recommend the film on any other grounds as the story structure didn't engage me the way I had hoped.

Rating: 4/10
Boy Actors: Bodhi Nolin, Ricky Harmon
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Following this disappointment it was back to the CineRobotheque for some classic short films.

Sail Away

A boy named Gus accepts an invitation to spend several days aboard the trimaran Freya. During the cruise he is instructed in the rudiments of sailing and is entrusted with the helm. Ever curious, Gus is taught to identify various forms of marine life. There is a particularly striking sequence of a storm at sea that Gus, the skipper, and the Freya ride out handsomely.

Kind of a quasi-documentary educational short featuring the talents of young Angus Mackay who went on to star in The Concert Stages of Europe a great NFB short. The film hasn't aged particularly well. Angus is charming enough to justify watching it anyway.

Rating: 5/10
Boy Actor: Angus Mackay
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The Huntsman

A film adaptation of a short story by Toronto writer David Lewis Stein about a ten-year-old boy who ferrets out golf balls from the rough, then sells his findings to passing golfers. There is an unexpected development when two unscrupulous older boys try to muscle in on his business. A children's film, but one that many adults will enjoy.

This adult enjoyed it moderately. There were many little items that dated the film (littel flower stickers, STP ads etc.), but I thought it was a resonable morality play for its time.

Rating: 6/10
Boy Actor: John Wildman?
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Silence The Earth

Verbal violence, psychological influence and the power that comes with money determine most borders--those within the home as well as those between nations. When Stephen's room becomes someone else's territory for a short while, it becomes obvious just how fragile borders are.

Sadly this ended up being a French language short film dubbed in English. I thought it was awfully preachy and must have been made to be an educational film.

Rating: 4/10
Boy Actor: Yannick Beaudoin
Content Alert: PJs
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Differences


Differences is a short drama examining the racial conflicts that can occur among children when an "outsider" appears in the midst of a dominant culture. Chris, a pre-adolescent, resents the visit of Emma, a Native girl, to his home. Pressured by his friends to ignore her, by his parents to accept her, and by his own awareness of Emma's loneliness and unhappiness, Chris must decide where his loyalties lie.

Like a lot of films aimed at a young audience, this was a morality play. It was also well made and entertaining enough to merit theatrical showings. The acting is a notch above what I had seen so far on this day. Zachary Ansley, the lead in the film, went on to star in the excellent drama Princes of Exile when he was 18. He has been quite a prolific actor with some 40 credits in his IMDB profile.

Rating: 8/10
Boy Actors: Zachary Ansley, Ian Sullivan
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Bambinger

Set in Montréal during World War II, this drama based on a short story by Canadian author Mordecai Richler tells of a family who takes in a Jewish refugee named Mr. Bambinger. The family's twelve-year-old son, Sammy, resents this intrusion, but his resentment turns to compassion when he learns that the ship carrying Bambinger's wife and son to Canada has been struck by a torpedo.

Another polished production, I'm sure that Bambinger must've had at least televsion exposure in Canada. Peter Boretski, the actor who played Bambinger was particularly impressive. Although the synopsis hints that Sammy's character warms to Bambinger, their relationship never gets that friendly. It would be more accurate to say that he just doesn't detest him anymore. A realistic portrayal of the situation lifted by great acting.

Rating: 8/10
Boy Actor: Hadley Kay, Elijah Siegler
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I Wasn't Scared

Based upon a fictional story of suspense and drama, this film involves two school-children who come across an unexploded World War II bomb. The discovery awakens the curiosity of one child and the fear of the other. Designed to alert children to the various types of dangerous explosive devices they may find in Canada and be tempted to tamper with, the film clearly identifies the devices. To ensure the film's effectiveness, the filmmaker presents the information in a highly dramatic format.

This film was absolutely propaganda that was intended to be released to classrooms throughout Canada to scare a generation of students. I thought the presence of director Giles Walker might've made this a cut above, but I was mistaken. Still for what it was, it was watchable.

Rating: 6/10
Boy Actor: Todd Nixon
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Going To War

A half-hour drama based on a short story by Timothy Findley, set during World War II, in which a young boy feels deeply hurt when he learns that his father has joined the army and will be going away. The boy vents his wrath in his own strange way.

This film was the best of the NFB bunch for this year. The late Sean Roberge gave a wonderful performance in the leading role, as a boy who had to deal with a father who was leaving him to go to war, never to return. Sean's character was kept in the dark about his father's pending enlistment, although everyone else in the family seemed to know. This only deepened his sorrow and pain.
The emotions displayed hit all the right buttons for me. A wonderful, poignant film.

Rating: 9/10
Boy Actors: Sean Roberge, Shane O'Brien, Gordon Woolvett
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Beautiful Lennard Island

Steven Thomas Holland, age ten, is the son of the lighthouse-keeper in charge of Lennard Island, a tiny place west of Vancouver Island. There is a population of four: mother, father and brother, David. A gracious host and articulate fan of his beautiful island home, he takes us on a tour and dispels any ideas we might have that living in isolation is boring.

A documentary that was brightened up by the perspective of Master Holland. It made me wonder what he's up to these days....

Rating: 6/10
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Re: Montreal WFF 2005
Reply #20 - 18. Sep 2005 at 00:53
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Quote:
cal, don't be so pessimistic.  Smiley

Thanks to the internet, more films seem to be available to more people than ever before. You Aussies are also blessed with World Movies a channel which has no US equivalent.

I'm confident that a goodly number of these film will eventually surface.


Hopefully in the not too distant future, these sort of movies may be available for download on legit movie sites.  I'd be more than happy to pay a couple of dollars per download.  I think such a system could eventually help these indy film-makers pay for their movies.

Thanks for the additions too...
  
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Re: Montreal WFF 2005
Reply #21 - 18. Sep 2005 at 12:45
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I agree that as internet connections are upgraded it just seems a matter of time before some enterpreneur will make this happen. Netflix has discussed internet rather than postal delivery at some unspecified point in the future so who knows. I hope it happens soon, as it would sure save me some serious travel costs.   Wink

With so many NFB shorts to report on, I ran out of time last night. Here is the rest of my Thursday.

Jacky Visits The Zoo

A tour of the zoo is given considerable momentum as an irate keeper chases Jacky for teasing the animals. The camera catches good close-ups of the zoo's polar bear, lion, giraffe, elephant, rhinoceros, camel, zebra--and finally Jacky, in a cage labelled "Wild Boy."

Dated doesn't come close to describing this cheesy short about a trip to the zoo by an impish young boy.
Jacky reaffirms his status as a brat with every animal he encounters, he generally remains one step ahead of the buffoonish guard until he gets caught..... It's safe to say this story would not be told this way today.  Grin

Rating: 6/10
Content Alert: Spanking
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Journey of the Blob

A boy makes a decision about how to dispose of a green glob he has concocted. What will happen if he dumps it into a stream? Where does water come from and where does it go? This film illustrates the water cycle and raises many questions about environmental responsibility and the consequences of our decisions.

The description outlines well what goes on in this film. Having seen its star in a different NFB production last year, I took a flyer on this. This film is best suited for the classroom, not the cinema, but Scott Ingram is very watchable.

Rating: 5/10
Boy Actor: Scott Ingram
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With many more NFB productions now under my belt, I headed back to the regular festival screenings.

Marathon

Cho-won is a lovely, seemingly normal boy who likes chocolate cookies and zebras. But he also happens to be autistic. Kyung-sook, his mother, accepts this fact but also discovers that he loves to run. So she begins training him. Twenty years later, Cho-won's intelligence is still that of a 5-year-old. He farts everywhere, bows to his younger brother, and dances to music wherever he hears it. Kyung-sook dedicates herself to training him to accomplish a sub-3-hour marathon, a dream for amateur runners. When Jun-wook, a former marathon champion, comes to do community service in Cho-won's school, Kyung-sook is overjoyed. But it isn't long before she and Jun-wook have a falling out about how best to train Cho-won, and whether he should be running at all.

This was a pretty good film. The boy emphasis is only in the early stages of the film, although Cho-won does have a younger brother who gets some screen time (but not much). The story was inspirational to the point of being sappy at times, but the closing credits noted that it was based on a  true story so maybe that couldn't be helped.
The cinematography was excellent as well. There is a particularly stunning shot of what I presume is Seoul taken from high above that is breathtaking.
The issue raised of how one ascertains what an autistic child wants to do and why they want to do it are given very thoughtful coverage.

Rating: 8/10
Boy Actor: Baek Seong-hyeon
Content Alert: Adult Nudity

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Midnight Ramble

A fall through a dream, a fall through a life.

An experimental, visual short that was part of my next screening. If you are a faithful reader of these reports, you know I can't stand this sort of film.

Rating: 0/10
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Kata Practice

David, a 6-year-old junior green belt practices for his final "fight". Sometimes not even the best of moves can block life's challenges.

David was trying to prevent the breakup of his parents by taking on his dad's truck......It didn't work  Cry 
This was a well depicted short film on the feelings that small children have about their parents separating. Nolan Gray did a great job of portraying courage under very trying personal circumstances.

Rating: 7/10
Boy Actor: Nolan Gray

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Spam

A young man with no identity papers is admitted to the hospital in a coma. His case is a mystery to doctors: he is absolutely healthy from a medical point of view, yet he remains comatose. When he finally regains consciousness, he reveals that his name is Albert, but little else. He shows symptoms of amnesia and autism. Hania, a hospital attendant who looks after him, notices striking similarities between the young man and her son, who had died in a suspicious car crash a couple of years earlier. Hania takes him home and he recovers enough to begin working in a shop run by the parents of Hania's dead son's girlfriend. At first everyone takes a liking to the innocent young man. But when Albert shows signs of seeing through people's lies, his presence becomes threatening.

Thursday was apparently autism day for me. The feature film in this presentation, Spam dealt with a much different autistic character than Cho-won. Although I think I like mysteries, this film didn't really unspool that way. Eventually the viewer is told all they need to know, with no clues to help them find it on their own.  Sad

Rating: 5/10
Content Alert: Adult Nudity
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Having made it through that tripleheader, I now was ready to hook up with josephk for my final film of the evening....

My Brother's Summer

Nine-year-old Sergio is the only child of his middle-class parents, Anna and Paolo, but he may soon be joined by a sibling. Anna is pregnant and she doesn't want to bring the unborn baby to term, especially now that her marriage to Paolo is going through a rough patch. Sergio, though well adjusted, is a solitary boy whose introverted habits have earned him the nickname Lone Ranger. During a long summer vacation in the country, Sergio first fiercely resists the prospect of a sibling, then battles with a terrible sense of guilt when his imaginary brother fails to materialize. The impish figment of his hyperactive imagination refuses to disappear, however, and comically becomes an inseparable if annoying companion.

This film is a look-see into the depths of Sergio's overactive imagination. I can safely say that this film is like nothing I have ever seen before. Reality and daydreams are given the exact same filming treatment by the director. While Sergio's imagination can be somewhat dark at times, the film works hard at presenting things with a lighthearted touch. Davide Veronese is spot on in his portrayal of Sergio and Tommaso Ferro is extremely appealing as the little brother. 
The film has gotten rave reviews when it has been shown but it has had what could politely be described as a slow path to finding an audience. Most of the film was shot in 1998, financial considerations and an internal artistic debate on the part of its maker caused the ending to be shot in 2003. 2005 is well on its way to being over, yet the film has had no Italian theatrical release. This is shameful. I'm really happy I got the chance to see the film and hope the rest of you get that chance. If you can't wait some of the best scenes (major spoilers) are detailed in a Variety review linked in the external review section of the film's profile at IMDB.

Rating: 9/10
Boy Actors: Davide Veronese, Tommaso Ferro, Giacomo Dusi, Marco Massagrande, others
Content Alert: Socks, PJs, Comic Boy Brutality

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One more day of festing yet to cover and in it are the best film and the best boy acting performances I saw at this year's festival.... 8)
  
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Re: Montreal WFF 2005
Reply #22 - 18. Sep 2005 at 13:21
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Such fantastic reviews! Thank you.
  
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Re: Montreal WFF 2005
Reply #23 - 30. Sep 2005 at 00:50
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I'm opening my notebook on the 2005 WFF for the last time  Cry  as I have one last day to finish. As I do, I note with alarm, that I left out my first film from Thursday  Embarrassed so I add that now.
One Day in Europe

Four cities, four cases of theft, four installments of a soccer match in the Champions' League, and football fever everywhere. The interwoven episodes kick off in Moscow, where Galatasaray Istanbul and Deportiva La Coruña meet in the Champions' League final. Kate, a young English art dealer, is mugged after a taxi ride, but is helped by an eager pensioner named Elena. The two women make their way to the police station, but have difficulty reporting the incident because the cops are busy with visiting soccer hooligans. Meanwhile... in Istanbul a German student, Rokko, is falsely claiming he was mugged so as to collect on his insurance; in Spain, a Hungarian tourist has his digital camera stolen; and in Berlin it's a couple of street buskers who fake being mugged. And back in Moscow the soccer match is tied after regulation time and is headed to penalty kicks...

I love road movies. If you do as well, I highly recommend this story of thievery and language barriers set in many different parts of Europe. The stories are woven together well with a fair amount of humor in them. I really enjoyed this film.

Rating: 9/10

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FRIDAY

Blackberries

Alejandro, who is growing up in the Mexican barrio of Los Angeles, has a small adventure along the banks of a river that triggers a crisis between his parents.

Like Kata Practice this was another film about the
emotional collateral damage visited upon young children when their parents can't get along. Although Kata packed a little more punch (pun definitely intended  Smiley ), this was still a pretty good little short film.

Rating: 6/10
Boy Actor: Jose Galvan

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Coca - The Dove of Chechnya

Born in exile in Kazakhstan, Zainap Gashsaeva, a Chechen businesswoman who has raised four children, in 1994 began documenting the atrocious human rights violations that are daily events in her homeland, where Europe's longest running conflict since World War II still rages unabated. Risking her life at every turn, she has used a video camera to compile a unique visual and oral history as evidence of what has happened. One hundred thousand of the one million inhabitants of this Caucasian republic have died, along with tens of thousands of Russian soldiers and Chechen underground fighters. Meanwhile, the rest of the world averts its eyes.

Ever since the Beslan tragedy last year, I have become interested in just what is going on in Chechnya. Unfortunately this piece offered me little insight into the conflict. Extremely one sided (anti-Russian). I could've lived with the bias, if the film would have done a better job of sketching out why there is a war going on there in the first place. I can only hope that the 3 Rooms of Melancholia does a better job with this topic.   

Rating: 3/10

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Stand By

One winter's night, Roberto, a famous novelist, is involved in a terrible car crash that will change his life forever.

Eerie short film reflecting on a tragic car accident. Only child performer is Beatriz Matt.

Rating: 6/10

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To Die in San Hilario

The village of San Hilario used to make its living from its wonderful cemetery and the ability of its inhabitants to arrange the most wonderful funerals. People came to San Hilario to die in style. But the need for faster funerals and the quickening pace of modern life meant that the people of San Hilario were running out of work. That's why they were eagerly awaiting the arrival of Germán Cortés. Germán was a new client who wanted to spend his last days in the village. His arrival would allow the inhabitants of San Hilario to pull out all the stops... and maybe save their business and the village itself. But things get a bit complicated when Germán dies before reaching his destination. And the people of San Hilario never get the news...

A movie which reminded me of Waking Ned Devine (a look at the first production still should help you to understand why). Milton de la Canal, who some of may remember from Kamchatka, has a role similar in scope to that of Robert Hickey in Ned . This was an unexpected bonus as I picked this film to see an example of a modern screwball comedy. Although the film has received mixed reviews, I thought it was pretty good.

Rating: 8/10
Boy Actor: Milton de la Canal, Ezequiel Garcia
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Ryna

Sixteen-year-old Ryna is the daughter of a poor Romanian gas station operator in a small town on the Danube. Ryna has been brought up as a boy because her father had longed for a son. RYNA is about strong family ties, about a daughter's search for her mother, and about a despotic father slowly losing his grip on his family. It is also about poverty, social oppression and the abuse of power under the false guise of democracy. The film describes the awakening of a young girl's soul and the pain that accompanies it. Caught between traditional values and materialistic dreams, Ryna finally pays a high price in order to preserve her identity.

Reasonable Romanian female empowerment drama. No boy actors in the film at all. Film has become a bit of a critical success perhaps due to its  central theme....

Rating: 7/10
Content Alert: Brutality, Nudity

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Greenhouse Effect

Two lonely, lost teenagers. Rita, a girl, from the country, is alone in the unfamiliar big city. Her baggage was stolen at the railway station and she wanders around not knowing what to do. She has no documents, no money and no way of contacting the new friend she recently made. A homeless boy nicknamed Mute comes to her rescue. Mute feels for Rita; he knows what it's like to be abandoned. They look for comfort in each other's company. There doesn't seem to be many other places to look...

And the winner for best boy actor in the 2005 WFF is Sasha Yakin, the star of this film. Although the plot summary would have you believe otherwise, this is Sasha's film. I was planning to offer up a paragraph or two explaining why this may be the best child actor performance I'll see all year, but instead I've decided to offer the film's review in Variety, the film industry's most respected trade paper.

Dynamically shot, artfully acted character study of a young street kid in Moscow and the pregnant teenager he protects has oddly upbeat lucidity. Not trying for the tragic sweep of such classic Russian childhood pics as "My Name Is Ivan" or "Freeze, Die, Come to Life," helmer Valery Akhadov's modest but highly moving portrait of a fiercely loyal, doggedly resourceful, homeless 12-year-old could click solidly with arthouse auds worldwide.
The kid (Alexander Yakin), most often known as "the Mute," goes by many monikers as he performs numerous illicit odd jobs, from washing floors in exchange for a bed in the titular greenhouse to begging as a fake mute in the train station, splitting the take with the station's regular mute from whom he borrows the props.

Indeed, he has forged a complicated network of bartering with those officially hired to do work -- washing cars, for example, so he can take a morning shower under a garage hose and get a cut of the car-wash boy's take. His dedication is explained by his dream: to save enough money to go with his good friend the Greek (Evgeny Kharlanov), at present hospitalized for an unspecified grave illness, to live with the latter's grandparents in Greece in a house by a hill full of olive trees.

Enter Rita (Elena Polyakova), a newly arrived teenager whose suitcase (containing all her papers, the money she lifted from her mother and the address of the one-night stand who got her pregnant) was stolen. At first refusing to join her search for the luggage, Ramses, as the kid introduces himself to her, takes Rita back to the greenhouse and sets out to help her find the father of her unborn child.

Though the Mute's relationship with Rita is not without its sexual side, his intense protectiveness and obvious need to form a family plant the seeds for other, more overriding bonds of love between the two abandoned waifs.

Rita, with her pixyish short hair, whimsical dress and quirky energy, looks like a gamine from a Russian romantic comedy of 20 or 30 years earlier. In the new realpolitik of the Moscow streets, however, youth no longer serves as a source of freewheeling energy. Rita is passive and lost, far more youthful in experience and less formed in character than her serious-minded 12-year-old mentor.

Similarly, though Polyakova's Rita is suitably touching and vulnerable, it is young Yakin who owns the movie, his particular blend of childlike openness, burning dedication and streetwise ingenuity impossible to resist.

Helmer Akhadov works within a curiously restrained, limited canvas, having chosen to shoot in the old-time, nearly square 1:33 format. At the same time, though his cast is quite spare and he singles out no other homeless figures, Rotislav Perumov's oft-traveling camera implies a larger context by catching the kid on his daily rounds from the vantage of a vehicle moving in the opposite direction, the spiffed up metropolis always seeming to pass the kid by. Indeed, Akhadov's Moscow is quite beautiful, the dispossessed all but invisible in the unbroken flow of a city that can no longer offer them shelter.


There is not much I can add to that other than to state the obvious. If you have a chance to see this film, don't miss the opportunity!!  I hope this was the film that josephk saw on his own.  ???


Rating: 10/10
Boy Actor: Sasha Yakin
Content Alert: Child Nudity
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This last picture is not a still from the film but rather a shot of Sasha and his director.
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Hawaii, Oslo

As Oslo suffers through the hottest day of the year, the paths of several strangers cross. A male nurse believes he can sense the future (as long as he's asleep), while a suicidal former pop star pines for the past. "Hawaii" is a local bar where two long-lost lovers swear to meet to fulfill their childhood promise; Hawaii, the American state, is also the place where one lover's brother dreams of fleeing during his one-day furlough from jail. Meanwhile, a grief-stricken marriage couple hope to make a desperate trip to the United States for an experimental operation that might save their child's life.

Although Sasha Yakin won my best child actor award hands down, I thought Hawaii Oslo was the best film I saw in the festival. I was rather fortunate to see the film at all, as it was brought back for an encore screening (it had finished its run before I arrived in Montreal). I thought this film was very similar to Magnolia, a film which I also love. Although all of the various plot threads are well done, of particular interest here would be the performances of  Benjamin Lønne Røsler and Ferdinand Falsen Hiis who play the sons of that suicidal pop star. Benjamin in particular gives a very strong performance. This film was Norway's entry for the foreign language Oscar this past year, it deserved to be a finalist at least.

Rating: 10/10
Boy Actors: Benjamin Lønne Røsler, Ferdinand Falsen Hiis

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Because The Greenhouse Effect was too good to run out on, I did miss the opening scene of Hawaii Oslo. Thanks to meeting up with josephk after the movie I was able to catch up on what I had missed. While I don't think seeing the scene would've lowered my rating any, it did give me a slightly different feel for what I had just watched. I'm glad I had a friend there to help me out on this as I am pessimistic about my chances of seeing the film again.

With these last two films, my festival definitely ended on a major upswing. As I wasn't scheduled to leave the city until late Saturday morning, I had the opportunity to enjoy one final visit with josephk who kept me out way too late.  :talkface:  Grin
All in all another fine experience.  Smiley

I hope the festival survives long enough so that I can do it again next year.
« Last Edit: 30. Sep 2005 at 16:39 by Zabladowski »  
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cal-Q-L8
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Re: Montreal WFF 2005
Reply #24 - 30. Sep 2005 at 02:47
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Thanks again Zab... that was a mammoth effort.

Lot's to look forward to there. I've added them all to my 'Movies to watch' list, which has hundreds of titles.
  
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Re: Montreal WFF 2005
Reply #25 - 30. Sep 2005 at 22:08
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A very huge effort indeed!

And Cal hit 5000 posts!!!!!!!!!
  
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Re: Montreal WFF 2005
Reply #26 - 01. Oct 2005 at 09:04
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Have you seen "Hello brother" , at WFF. I have found this information :

Child actor wins best actor award at Canadian film festival (2005/09/27)

Child actor Park Ji-bin won the Silver Iris award for Best Actor at the New Montreal FilmFest, which ended on Saturday (Sept. 24).

The 10-year-old Park won the award for his performance in “Little Brother (Annyeong Heonga)” - "Hello Brother" by director Lim Tae-hyeong. He is the youngest person to win the best actor prize at the Canadian festival.
  
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Re: Montreal WFF 2005
Reply #27 - 01. Oct 2005 at 11:35
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Funny you should bring that up Romuslus. I noticed that article the other day while researching this post.

That news article was referring to the new Montreal International Film Festival and not the WFF.
Since I don't live in Montreal, I didn't see the film there.  Sad

I do have the film available to me, I just haven't seen it yet, so I can't offer an opinion. I don't know if josephk attended any of the films in that festival. I imagine he'll respond soon and let us know.  Smiley

For anyone who would like to read about Park Ji-bin's triumph, here is a link to the story.

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Re: Montreal WFF 2005
Reply #28 - 01. Oct 2005 at 18:14
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No, I decided to boycott that festival. That film was one of the very few that I would have liked to see. But in the current context here in Montreal, deciding which festival to attend becomes a political action. I decided I'd rather give my money to people who deserve it rather than that ridiculous farce pretending to be a film festival.
  
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Re: Montreal WFF 2005
Reply #29 - 02. Oct 2005 at 02:54
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I can understand your point of view, Josephk, but from France the "festival war" appears a little surrealist to me.

About "Hello brother" It happens I have got the DVD saturday. It is too difficult for me to give detailed impressions in english about it apart I found Park Ji-bin playing excellent. If you are interested by a french synopsis or a more detailed critic in french, I can do it  but maybe you can find one in English.

  
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