11-Day Film Marathon

42nd Annual Festival du Nouveau Cinéma Gathers Montreal’s Cinephiles and Film Lovers

A still from Omar Rodriguez-Lopez’s film Los Chidos.
A still from the black-and-white drama Miss Zombie.
A still from Robert Lepage’s cinematic adaptation Triptyque.

The wolf is back, and with it a new batch of world cinema’s best.

The Festival du nouveau cinéma has established itself as one of the most solid ramparts of independent cinema in Montreal for 42 years now.

The oldest film festival in Canada also happens to have the youngest and most audacious line-up—this year, 16 films and 15 different countries share the competition spotlight for the prestigious Louve d’or.

The decorated pilgrimage of Quebec directors Xavier Dolan, Sébastien Pilote and Emanuel Hoss-Desmarais will reach their respective culmination point with their home premiere during the FNC.

Dolan’s Tom à la ferme won the critics’ prize at the Venice Film Festival in September, while Pilote’s Le démantèlement came back with the Société des auteurs et compositeurs dramatiques prize from Cannes in the much talked-about premiere in France in May.

Both directors will lead the imposing procession of young and veteran Quebec filmmakers in the FNC.

Quality rather than exclusivity was the word for this edition. Most of these films premiered in Toronto last month, but the FNC aims to give audiences the best cinematic experiences possible instead of privileged first looks at possibly subpar films.

Outdoor screenings of film classics, art installations and late night parties will still be a factor in attracting a sizeable turnout of film lovers to the festival. A number of free admission films will be screened as well, such as Sergio Leone’s classic spaghetti western with Clint Eastwood, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.

This edition also marks in overture the glorious return of stage director Robert Lepage to cinema with the highly anticipated Quebec City-based drama Triptyque, a movie adaptation of his play Lipsynch.

Co-directed with his protégé Pedro Pires of Danse macabre fame, the much-awaited film will feature Lepage’s recurrent themes showcased through the crude visuals of Pires, who Lepage credits in an interview with The Huffington Post of Quebec for giving him “the perfect opportunity” to bring his play to the big screen.

Atypical works are interconnected in a chaotic web of cinematic journeys in the Temps 0 non-competitive section. These include Miss Zombie, a black-and-white drama about the trials of a zombified woman; Go in the Wilderness, a modern reinterpretation of Adam and Eve’s devious upbringing; and Los Chidos, a film by rock-fusion group The Mars Volta’s Omar Rodriguez-Lopez on his view of a tortured Mexico.

The premises in the Temps 0 section are as uneven as they are intriguing—the non-competitive aspect allows filmmakers to branch outside of traditional plots.

Director of programming Claude Chamberlan, who co-founded the festival in 1971, prides himself on the lasting artistic merit of the FNC. The names of the directors and the exclusivity of the showings did not influence anything on the choices of his team—“Just the top of the line,” he says.

The Link caught up with Chamberlan on his way home from the legendary filmmaker Michel Brault’s funeral. This year’s festival will be dedicated to his memory.

Chamberlan explained the importance of “auteur” cinema in the founding of the festival, which was a popular concept in New Wave films in the 1950s and ’60s.

“We started the festival with the same idea of direct cinema: the idea to be free, to hold no barriers to our vision,” said Chamberlan.

“I have no interest in the corporate stuff; it’s all about seduction. That’s our thing,” he added, emphasizing the festival’s goal for quality cinema over sponsorship or showing the hottest films in the scene.

The FNC benefits from the support of some great film directors that were seduced by Montreal’s groundbreaking cinema scene, such as Palme d’Or-winning director Abdellatif Kechiche, who specifically cites Chamberlan and his festival for his newfound love of Montreal.

Chamberlan himself has directed several films, and holds a Guinness world record for longest movie screening—250 hours of non-stop films dating from 1889 to 1992, to celebrate 100 years of cinema, according to the FNC’s website. Chamberlan now programs at Cinéma Excentris and Cinéma du Parc, and calls the FNC “the sexiest film festival in [North] America.”

Mobility has also become a focus of the FNC in recent years. Bringing the festival to Cinéma Cartier in Quebec City and working for smaller festivals outside Montreal is how Chamberlan contributes to the film scene outside of the city of festivals.

“I am very proud. We work on distribution, so this is not a one-time thing for artists,” Chamberlan said.

“The magic moments need to travel. We want film to go outside Montreal, to the people,” he said.

Festival du nouveau cinéma // Oct. 9 – Oct. 20 // 18 venues around Montreal // 12 p.m. to 10 p.m. // $125 FNC student pass, $8 student single tickets