Get Into the Rhythm of RIDM

A Highlight of Documentary Films to Expect at RIDM 2014

photo by Emily Gan.

Running from Nov. 12 to Nov. 23, this year’s Montreal International Documentary Festival (RIDM) will present 142 films from 44 nations.

“There needed to be a greater space for exchange and discussion between filmmakers and audiences,” said Charlotte Selb, the RIDM’s programming director. “This festival offers just that.”

The 17th edition of the annual festival will also include global, North American, Canadian and Quebec premieres, as well as both established and emerging directors from Canada and around the world.

Le nez (The Empire of Scents), Marmato and We Come as Friends are expected to create shockwaves this year. Le nez, a documentary exploring and questioning our relationship with smell, will open to the world in Montreal for its global premiere.

Marmato is a “David and Goliath story, a story of the oppressed,” according to Selb. Director Mark Grieco embedded himself in the Colombian village the film is named after, shedding light on wealth inequalities.

After a Canadian mining company arrived, wealth disparities were only exacerbated as the Colombian military pacified opposition to the multinational’s plans for an open pit mine. It illustrates how traditional, sustainable methods of mining are replaced by “modern” techniques that seek to extract gold deposits as soon as possible.

We Come as Friends—a film by Hubert Sauper being released 10 years after his last film, Darwin’s Nightmare—explores themes of exploitation, religious and sectarian divisions and land appropriation in war-torn Sudan.

The director, who filmed portions of the documentary in a homemade plane, will be holding a conference on land appropriation at Concordia after the screening on Nov. 16. The film is similar to Marmato in that it seeks to illustrate how “the spoils of natural resources are coveted by foreign interests,” according to a RIDM press release.

Italian/Argentinian production Belva nera, co-directed by lifelong friends but first-time collaborators Alessio Rigo de Righi and Matteo Zoppis, has been described as a “mockumentary Western.”

Filmed just north of Rome, the film charts a community’s encounter with a legendary black panther. Whether it’s a documentary or a mockumentary depends on whether you believe the panther is real or not.

The directors sought to “tell the story of our city and our culture,” Matteo said.

“This is the story of our generation. There had been many accounts of the panther going around just outside the capital,” he added.

In the documentary, a local cowboy, Hercules, spots the cat and Tony Scarf, an actor and panther expert, proceeds to catch one. The directors filmed their interviews of “people who came and went from the local tavern,” Matteo said.

“Many things are hidden behind the film, and we look forward to perhaps discussing these with the audience in Montreal,” said Righi.

A sequel of sorts is now being filmed about a hermit from the same region. It will be released next year.

Belva Nera’s North American premiere will be on Nov. 15 at 6:30 p.m. at Cinémathèque Québécoise Salle Claude-Jutra.

“RIDM is as internationally-oriented as it is locally,” said Selb. “We have various competitions for emerging young student filmmakers and one of these initiatives, the Talent Lab, will award a sundry of mentorships with established directors.”

Most young directors begin with a short and RIDM’s competitions provide an opportunity for emerging filmmakers to have their work showcased.

All RIDM screenings during the week before 5 p.m. are free for students. At Concordia screenings, Concordia students get a discounted price of $8. RIDM, in conjunction with the STM, is also offering a two-for-one deal for anyone who presents an OPUS card.