Wednesday, August 31, 2011

World Film Festival 2011: Catherine Deneuve

Montreal World Film Festival

This year the Montreal World Film Festival honored Catherine Deneuve, icon of the French cinema. She received the Festival's Grand Prize of the Americas for her contribution to the cinema and for her acting artistry.

“Catherine Deneuve occupies a special place the pantheon of great screen actors. She has collaborated with with the greatest filmmakers of modern cinema and she has conquered the world with her immense talent. We are especially happy to be able to pay tribute to Ms. Deneuve at our Festival,” declared MWFF President Serge Losique. 

Here are some images of Catherine Deneuve receiving the Grand Prix (Prize) of the Americas for her contribution to the cinematographic art from Christine St-Pierre, Minister of Culture, on the stage at Théâtre Maisonneuve, Place-des-Arts. President Serge Losique is on the right. 

The following are the pictures of Catherine Deneuve in the audience before she was aworded the prize.

And these are the photos of the press conference that took place the previous day, with the President of the Montreal World Film Festival Serge Losique in the back.

Click on images to enlarge them.

All photos in this article by Nadia Slejskova.
© 2011 Nadia Slejskova

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

World Film Festival 2011: Hasta la Vista

Montreal World Film Festival

Production company : Mariano Vanhoof, Fobic Films, Nieuwevaart 118/003, 9000 Gand (Belgique), tél.: (32-09) 329 00 52, fa
Director : Geoffrey Enthoven

Script : Pierre De Clercq
Photography : Gerd Schelfhout

Editor : Philippe Ravoet
Cast : Robrecht Vanden Thoren, Gilles De Schryver, Tom Audenaert, Isabelle de Hertogh, Kimke Desart, Johan Heldenberh, Karlijin Sileghem, Karel Vingerhoets, Katelijne Verbeke, Marilou Mermans

Belgium, 115 min.

Official description of the film:

Hasta la Vista - Come As You Are
"COME AS YOU ARE follows three guys in their early twenties who love wine and women. Wine they have savoured abundantly, but they have never had a woman. Under the guise of a wine tour they embark on a journey to Spain, hoping to get laid there. Nothing will stop them. Not even the fact that each of them is physically challenged: one is blind, another is confined to a wheelchair, and the third is completely paralysed COME AS YOU ARE is loosely based on the life of Asta Philpot, a paralyzed American who fights for handicapped people and their sexual rights. Philpot was the subject of a British documentary, For One Night Only, in 2007, and was featured on several talk shows, including Oprah. "For me this is a very human story," says Enthoven. "What I wanted to achieve is that after a few minutes people actually forget that these main characters are physically challenged. They are just human beings, like you and I, looking for some warmth, some tenderness. What I really want to show with this film is that all of us are living with a handicap when it comes to communicating with others."

Hasta la Vista was awarded the Festival's most prestigious price, the Grand prix des Americas. 

At first, when I read the official description of the film, it did not attract my attention at all. Two days later I was told by someone who had just seen the movie that it was an excellent film and that I should see it, which I did right away. And I am very glad I did.

There is absolutely nothing banal about this film or its main theme of desiring to have the first sexual experience by visiting a brothel. Actually, it was this main theme of the journey to a brothel that initially turned my attention away from this film, since I assumed the interpretation of it would be rather trite. But I was very wrong. The actual visit to a house of ill repute is a small fraction of the film. The rest is about human relationships, limitations, realizations, and human dignity even when faced with difficulties presented by physical handicaps. The film shows the courage, strength and growth that the three main characters undergo. It forces a spectator to come in touch with his or her inner self and to unlock a private corner of tenderness and compassion within.

I heartily recommend this film. It has an unusual combination of being funny and very serious, tender and rough all at the same time. It also has two endings, a sad one and a happy one, which is also quite unusual.

Here is the official trailer of the film that does not do it full justice:

Come as you are (Hasta La Vista) - Trailer

Monday, August 29, 2011

MWFF 2011: House of the Wind

Montreal World Film Festival

House of the Wind

Дом ветра

Production company : Maxim Khusainov, Kinematograph Tretye Tisacheletie, Eniseyskaya ul. Str. 3, # 3402-03, 129344 Moscou
Director : Viatcheslav Zlatopolsky
Script : Alexey Timm
Photography : Radik Askarov

Editor : Zhanna Berger
Cast : Polina Kutepova, Denik Neverov, Valerij Barinov, Elena Morozova, Alexander Ilyin, Alexey Zavyalov

Russia, 106 min.

Official description of the film:

House of the Wind
"An ordinary woman, Taisya Levshina -- a yard cleaner at a children's infectious diseases hospital -- gets bad news: her son, who had gone missing on the violence-ridden southern Russian border, ten years earlier, and for whom she had never given up hope of finding alive, has been confirmed dead. Her hopes dashed and to fill the painful cavity in her soul, Taya takes -- practically kidnaps -- from the hospital, a seven-year old Asian child Timur, who, considering all his diagnoses and medical history, is doomed to a premature demise."

"Two years ago Alexei Timm, the screenwriter, told me that in some newspaper he had read an amazing story: a grandmother had brought her grandson suffering from AIDS to a monastery, they lived there for a long time, and prayed, and eventually the boy recovered. I immediately suggested to Alexei that we do a movie about this, and it turned out that he had already written the script. We only had to find the money. The project was supported by the Ministry of Culture, but there was this condition -- a debutant should make this movie. I sent the script to Slava Zlatopolsky. And I did not regret it." -- Maxim Khusainov (producer)

The film has a spiritual essence that is not immediately obvious. It would be too simplistic to interpret it only from the psychological point of view: a woman receives a news about the death of her son, 10 years after he was lost in action. And she finds a substitute in a seven-year old terminally ill orphan. Such a basic interpretation of the film would still deliver a solid human interest and emotional value. Yet the film conveys much more than that. The main theme is love that sustains life, devoid of any regular material values or relationships.

The main personage is not thinking of herself, or of establishing a future private life for herself. She is not looking for a man, for money, for a better job, or any material advancement. All she aspires to is to sustain life in a small dying boy, who is not related to her and is not even Russian, as she is. For that she abandons her house, her job, and at a desperate moment is even open to commit acts outside of the established laws. Yet despite all that, she never betrays the basic human value – to maintain her unofficially adopted son alive at all costs. At the end, her spiritual essence prevails…

Trailer in Russian

MWFF 2011: Not White - Black

Not White - Black

Director : Konstantin Esadze
Script : Konstantin Esadze
Photography : Konstantin Esadze   Editor : Levan Kukhashvili, Givi Tukhareli
Georgia, 56 min.

Official Synopses:
"A film about a very special car journey from Georgia to Germany and back, with one very specific goal -- to buy cars cheaply in Germany, and then sell them in Georgia. After receiving their precious visas, they leave Georgia as a group, some with experience, others making this trip for the very first time. They arrive at the Munich airport with one aim: to buy the cheap cars they already found on Internet. The best option is a car used by woman, as it will be sold more easily in Georgia, and of course the car has to be black. These men, from a third world country, who speak neither German nor English, somehow always manage to get the best possible deals..."
Or do they? This real life documentary shows two Gergian men on a business mission. Although at first the men appear very similar, almost the same, little by little they are contrasted with each other. The initial stereotyping of both men and the mission they are undertaking starts braking apart… and the spectators’ judgment is tested.

The Georgian name of this documentary film is TETRI ARA – SHAVI.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

MWFF 2011: Taste the Waste

Montreal World Film Festival

Taste the Waste

Director: Valentin Thurn
Script: Valentin Thurn
Photography: Roland Breitschuh
Editor: Birgit Koster
Germany, 36 min.
Production company: Astrid Vandekerkhove, Valentin Thurn, Schnittstelle Koln/Thurn GbR, Marsiliusstr. 36, Cologne 50937

Official Film Synopses:

 Taste the Waste

"On the way from the farm to the dining table, more than half the food produced ends up in the garbage. Most of it before it ever reaches consumers. Why are such huge quantities of food being destroyed? The film seeks explanations from supermarket staff and managers, bakers, food inspectors, welfare recipients, politicians, farmers and bureaucrats. It's a system that everyone takes part in: supermarkets get rid of "old" food to make way for the new. And we encourage the practice…"

The film presents an excellent exposition as to how and why a huge amount of food is wasted, ending up in landfills before it even arrives to homes or restaurants, and also as leftovers. At the end of the film a statement is made that in Europe and North America the amount of food that goes to waste equals the quantity with which the entire world could be fed three times over. This is really terrifying in view of all the hunger that goes on in the world. How many malnourished children are there? How many people go to bed hungry? Yet the process by which the food gets to the tables in the modern civilized societies could hardly be described as civil. It lacks the main principles of civility: it misuses a huge amount of human labour as well as fossil energy and other resources involved in food production, with total lack of sincere aspiration to feed properly all the people in the world.

I highly recommend for everybody to see this documentary and reflect on what could be done to save the wasted food.

taste the waste - trailer

Maybe one of the solutions how to conserve food and energy could be found in restructuring our cities in such a way that people could start growing their fresh produce right in the cities. That would eliminate the transportation and food selection process that results in a huge quantity of food being thrown out into dumpsters.

The Ecocity congress that is taking place in Montreal right now deals with many sustainability issues, including urban agriculture. I am describing some of the initiatives of growing food in Montreal in my blog Now Event.

Monday, August 22, 2011

MWFF 2011: Budarash

Montreal World Film Festival

Director : Kirill Modylevskiy
Script : Kirill Modylevskiy
Photography : Kirill Gerra 
Cast : Dmitriy Antimonov, Olga Kuzina
Russia, 27 min.

Official Film Synopses:

“The state of relationships in the contemporary world. Especially about those of us who cannot remember the faces of their companions after fifteen minutes of conversation.

However, this short Russian film is about much more than that. It raises the issue of how poetry can affect a person’s life, how one can get introduced to poetry in most unlikely places - when hailling a taxi, or how does one earn a living when aspiring to artistic creation?

What is also shown is the ease with which violence is triggered in the modern Russian society, juxtaposed to the melody of poetic recital.

The questions arise as to the place of poetry and artistic creation in our society and the value attached to it. Is it treasured? Should it be promoted? Should people be brought to experience it more in their everyday life?

Here is the film's trailer:


Image at the top of the article courtesy of MWFF.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

MWFF 2011: Montreal World Film festival

Montreal holds annually a number of film festivals. The most prominent one is

Montreal World Film Festival

It is taking place presently between August 18-28, 2011. This year it celebrates its 35th anniversary.

The festival presents






Here’s the festival’s website for your quick reference, where you can view all the projection schedules and a short description of each film:

Another very popular film festival is

FIFA - International Film Festival of Films on Art 

Its acronym FIFA is derived from festival's French name - Festival International du Film sur Art.

Here are three articles I wrote about FIFA films in my blog

Art Frame

FIFA 29thEdition: Anich Kapoor – Spiritual Sculpture

FIFA 29th Edition: Spiritual Architecture

My additional contribution about FIFA festival also appears in

Film Festival Today