Saturday, October 29, 2011

Festival du nouveau cinéma 2011: Final thoughts

The Festival du nouveau cinema came to an end last Sunday, the closing film being Monsieur Lazhar, the latest endeavour from director Philppe Falardeau. Between the Seats did not attend the screening, but no matter, the film came out this past Friday in Montréal cinemas. It’s been a while since we’ve posted a Films du fleur de lys column anyhow, so that would be a good excuse for an update, as would recent releases Café de flore and Marécages, both of which have received rave reviews and we have been too lazy to go see.

Nay, on Sunday evening it felt more ‘cool’ to go see the latest Takashi Miike movie, Hara-Kiri-Death of a Samurai. Let’s be honest, it is kind of cool to see a Takashi Miike film before it opens wide, sort of. Back in mid August and early September when Between the Seats wrote up some brief summarizing thoughts on the Fantasia and World Film Festival respectively, the articles offered more praise than anything else for both events. Rest assured, this article will not take a radically different stance, we did not leave the FNC 2011 in bitter disappointment. The festival deserves a fare share of applause for the good setup and especially the strong lineup, one that included many of the Cannes and TIFF critical darlings. A job well done overall, even though the event’s base of operations was in a strange spot (the inner courtyard of UQAM university? Seriously, that’s not an easy spot to find if you never studied there, which I didn’t...). 

The movies I saw also offered opportunities to finally enter places like the Ex-Centris and Cinéma Impérial, neither of which I had ever been to. Cinéma Impérial is quite fun for its double-story screening room. Opportunity to watch a movie from the balcony for The Turin Horse, something I hadn’t done in years, was too great pass up on! Still, the most props must go to the Odeon Cineplex in the Quartier Latin, who once again sacrificed their top floor for festival screenings instead of the usual dubbed Hollywood blockbusters.

The crowd was somewhat similar to that which attended the World Film Festival. Quiet for the most part, notwithstanding the more energized crowds which attended the screenings of Hashoter and ShameKotoko was notable for the number of walkouts, of which there were many, and I can’t say I blamed those people. I felt there was more media coverage than with the FFM, although that might have been due to the fact that simply more people attended films. More prestige films played at the Festival du nouveau cinema, so more noticeable media coverage was to be expected I guess. On the flip side, there were a lot fewer directors and actors providing Q&As, unlike at Fantasia and the FFM. Between the Seats didn’t attend any at all, in fact.

There is one thing that bugs me about all these festivals, and it really has nothing to do with the people running the events, but rather those attending them. Ironically, most of my issues have stemmed from screenings of 13 Assassins at Fantasia and Hara-Kiri at Festival du nouveau cinema, each directed by Takashi Miike, so that might be an indication about the sort of people who show up for such films. I’m referring to people who arrive late, especially at festival screenings. Arriving late at a regular multiplex movie, that happens all the time since one suspects that ‘regular folk’ show up, and among this specific movie going social group are people who don’t really care about what they go see, so, as the saying goes, ‘whatever.’ When it comes to festivals however, I have a harder time digesting the reality that some people will walk in 5-, 10 and, yes, even 15 minutes after a movie starts. It’s a festival, buddy, you won’t get those 15-20 minutes of previews and adds which would have in other instances given you some extra time to show up as the movie starts. To make matters worse, those same people reserve themselves the right to discuss amongst themselves, sometimes not very quietly, during said movie. Such disrespect must stop, at the very least during a festival screening. You have the privilege of seeing a movie that most people won’t see for another few months, if even at all in a theatre. Depending on your city, it might only come your way on DVD or Blu-ray in 7, 8, 9 months. A slightly drastic decision would be to totally close the room doors 10 minutes after a movie starts. Harsh, maybe, but by and large (since there are always some exceptions) someone who can’t arrive on time or, worse still, arrives terribly late for a movie, probably does not care about enough about the movie anyways.

Enough negativity for now. After all, the festival was a lot of fun to attend and offered some excellent films. Strange that this was the very first time I went to see anything at all at the Festival du nouveau cinema. Lesson learned: go next year too.

As for the remainder of the year, festival season is pretty much done here in Montréal, certainly as far as the major festivals go. Now our attention can turn to the high brow dramas that shall populate our multiplexes in the leadup to the Oscars, and other fun stuff, like the long awaited conclusion of the Shaw Brothers Marathon, the Definitive Bond Marathon, and maybe another joint marathon with a fellow blogger many of you are familiar with.

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