New Docs on the Big Screen

Festival Premieres in a Hollow Desert Oasis

You won’t need to resort to streaming that new edgy documentary on your laptop anymore. Montrealers will now have the opportunity to see recent international docs on the big screen with the help of Rencontres internationales du documentaire de Montréal and Film POP.

Following the success of this year’s edition of RIDM, the city will once again be hosting some of the world’s best cinéma verité.

A new monthly series called Docville is launching Thursday, kicking off with Bombay Beach, winner of the Best Documentary Feature prize at the 2011 Tribeca Film Festival.

Directed by Israeli-American filmmaker Alma Har’el, the film follows a rural community living on the shores of an artificial saltwater lake in the middle of the Colorado Desert in California.

In the 1950s, developers built an oasis-like resort town called Bombay Beach there, but the experiment failed and what remains today is a remote ghost town that a community of 300 or so calls home.

“There’s something about the landscape of the film; it’s such a strange and surreal place in the middle of the desert,” said Charlotte Selb, director of programming for Docville. “It’s the visual embodiment of the death of the American Dream.”

The film is an interesting hybrid of many cinematic elements, including fiction, choreography and music, presented in documentary format. There are staged sequences and choreographed dance numbers, but ultimately the film presents a story of real characters living in a unique place.

“There’s the whole music aspect of it that I find really interesting, with the music of Beirut and Bob Dylan,” Selb said. “I think it’s a movie that’s really enjoyable. It’s beautifully shot.”

Bombay Beach was chosen to launch the series because of the amount of acclaim it has received since its debut at the Berlin International Film Festival last year. Despite all the recognition however, this will be the first chance for Montrealers to see it.

“We’re looking for films that surprise us, that move us—with a variety of topics. We’re really going in lots of directions,” said Selb.

“We want to make [the audience] discover films they wouldn’t expect, we want to show them what documentary can be. The genre is so innovative these days, [so] we’re trying to show the whole range of what’s being done.”

Bombay Beach will be screened this Thursday at Excentris Cinema (3536 St. Laurent Blvd.) at 7:00 p.m. A discussion with the director—via Skype—will follow.

Docville will premiere a documentary on the last Thursday of every month until September.

_For a complete list of dates and more details, visit

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