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2003 Montreal World Film Festival
27th Edition (Aug. 27-Sept. 7)

Article and Photographs © Linda Dawn Hammond/ IndyFoto 2002

2002 Montreal World Film Festival
26th Edition (Aug. 22-Sept. 2)


The year 2002 marked the 26th Edition of the Montreal World Film Festival. Over 400 films from 75 countries were presented this year, in addition to what has become a regular feature of the festival- free nightly outdoor screenings of repertory films and live musical events.

Festival regular, director Brian dePalma, at the WFF Opening Party
© Linda Dawn Hammond/ IndyFoto 2002

The general public was allowed to attend the daily press conferences, which are also televised. This year's event included the appearances of two major international stars- Robert deNiro ("City by the Sea") and Gerard Depardieu ("Aime Ton Pere"), both of whom charmed the crowds with their wit and - * substantial physical presence ( *"mere" would be an understatement- especially to the transfixed spectators, who appeared content to bask in the rare proximity of their idols and required little else!) It is an unusual festival which allows the public such intimate access to the stars.

Interestingly, the subject of both actors' films was, in essence, absent fathers / damaged sons and the tragic consequences of parental neglect. While deNiro's film is based upon a true story but not his own, the underlying themes behind Depardieu's vehicle appeared to be disturbingly autobiographical, a point further emphasized by the casting of Gerard's actual son Guillaume Depardieu as the estranged fils du père in the film and the characterization of an overly devoted daughter. Tales of motorcycle crashes, drug abuse and familial alienation are in this instance not confined to the cinematic script. The director of "Aime Ton Pere", Jacob Berger, also the son of a famous man, may lay claim to the original autobiographical content but his two main actors ultimately abscond with it.

(L-R) Actor Gerard Depardieu and MWFF president, Serge Losique
"Aime Ton Pere" ("Love your Father") Screening
© Linda Dawn Hammond/ IndyFoto 2002

Gerard Depardieu was suffering the results of yet another motorbike accident, and arrived at the press conference sporting severe facial abrasions and evidently experiencing some difficulty walking. In spite of this, he nevertheless managed to rally to the occasion and entertain the expectant capacity crowd with his amiable bantering- primarily on the delights of wine- a favourite subject of the actor, who owns vineyards in France. Gerard's son Guillaume, who also shares his father's enthusiasm for motorbikes, was unable to be present as he was in hospital recovering from the accident.

UPDATE: Guillaume, a rising star in France, suffered a tragic setback when he was finally compelled to amputate his right leg in June of 2003- the result of a previous motorcycle injury in 1996, which never properly healed and had led to a painful bacterial infection. To compound his troubles, Guillaume was then arrested in Normandy, France, in August of 2003. After allegedly being taunted regarding his appearance, Guillaume reportedly fired a gun in the direction of his tormenter. No-one was injured, but the police have laid charges against him, including possession of an illegal weapon, armed violence and threats. The handsome 32 year old actor is scheduled to appear in an upcoming C S Leigh film, "Process", co-starring Beatrice Dalle (Beineix' "Betty Blue").

Swiss director Jacob Berger's film,"Aime Ton Pere", is alternately referred to in English translation as "Honour Thy Father","Love Your Father" and "A Loving Father", but whether a directive based on a religious or familial imperative, or an intentionally inaccurate description, the irony of the title is inescapable, as is the tragedy it describes. Neglected children, desperately lacking self-esteem and the emotional support of their parents, often nevertheless continue to strive for recognition and love from parental sources both unobtainable and ultimately undeserving.

The elder Depardieu plays Leo Shepherd, a philandering, self-absorbed yet brilliant novelist and father (in that order), who has just received notification that he is to be awarded a Nobel Prize for literature. He impulsively and inadvisably sets off on his motorbike for Sweden to collect it. Unbeknownst to him, Leo's alienated and formerly drug addicted son Paul (Guillaume Depardieu) is tracking him in a car, ostensibly to offer his unwanted congratulations. When Paul comes upon his father, injured and dazed in the aftermath of a motorbike accident, he bundles him into the car and effectively kidnaps him in a hopeless attempt at a reconciliation, with tragic consequences. Guillaume Depardieu gives a compelling, sensitive performance, all the more poignant when one considers the emotional baggage which informed it.

(L-R) Actor Robert deNiro and Dir. Michael Caton-Jones
"City by the Sea" press conference
© Linda Dawn Hammond/ IndyFoto 2002

Directed by Michael Caton-Jones, "City By the Sea" rescues Robert deNiro (and his fans) from the puerile family comedies of recent days, and returns him to more familiar haunts of gritty streets, tough guys and crime. DeNiro plays Detective LaMarca, the conscientious homicide detective but failed husband and father, who comes to the harsh realization that his abandonment of his son, Joey 'Nova' LaMarca (James Franco), is leading to his imminent destruction. James Franco steals the scenes from the master, in part because he is so pretty and vulnerable, and in this aspect reflects Guillaume Depardieu's similar triumph. Unlike Gerald Depardieu's oblivious father character however, deNiro takes a proactive role in righting past wrongs, as he attempts to save his drug addicted and suicidal son who has apparently committed at least one murder. Frances McDormand plays "deNiro the cop's" girlfriend with her usual aplomb, but little is actually required of her as this is a guys' movie and as such, women are superfluous except when they are required to babysit while the guys are out destroying or saving themselves and the world. It isn't a deep film or a great film, but it is highly acceptable entertainment of the American genre.

(L-R) Actor Robert deNiro and MWFF president, Serge Losique
"City by the Sea" press conference
© Linda Dawn Hammond/ IndyFoto 2002

The 2002 FIPRESCI Prize ( Prix de la presse internationale) went to
director Raoul Ruiz (France/Chili) for
"Cofralandas, Chilean Rhapsody" (Official Competition)
Ruiz is seen in the process of researching the book which is to form the basis of his next cinematic masterpiece.
© Linda Dawn Hammond/ IndyFoto 2002

Ronald Bergan, the affable UK film critic and president of the
FIPRESCI jury (International Federation of Film Critics Prize),
catching up on personal reading prior to the "Aime Ton Pere" ("Love your Father") screening...
© Linda Dawn Hammond/ IndyFoto 2002

Spanish Director Carlos Saura
"Salome" (Official Competition)
Alongside, "I Am Dina" (Ole Bornedal), it shared this year's Air Canada People's Choice Award
© Linda Dawn Hammond/ IndyFoto 2002

Jury Members at Closing Awards Ceremony
(L-R)Iranian director Majid Majidi and Nina Companeez, French screenwriter and director
© Linda Dawn Hammond/ IndyFoto 2002

Heino Ferch, Jury Member, at Closing Awards Ceremony
Ferch starred in last year's winner of the Air Canada People's Choice Award, "Der Tunnel", by German director Roland Suso Richter.
© Linda Dawn Hammond/ IndyFoto 2002

Quebec director Manon Briand at Closing Awards Ceremony.
Her film, "La Turbulence des Fluides",or " Chaos and Desire" ,won this year's Telefilm Canada Best Canadian Film Chosen By the Public
© Linda Dawn Hammond/ IndyFoto 2002

The question one might ask here is- why? Are we so desperate for local heroes that this home-spun tale of improbable connections and clumsy "magic realism" deserves an award? There were moments when I thought that the whole thing was a comical farce- until repetition finally convinced me that it was taking itself very seriously. In spite of the fact that she wasn't cast as the somnambulist in the story, Pascale Bussières fairly sleepwalks through her role as Alice the seismologist, who must somehow save Baie Comeau from imminent disaster and find herself in the process. Geneviève Bujold's talents are completely wasted as the former nun/ waitress who holds a clue to the mystery. We won't talk about the others...

Except perhaps Alice's love interest, the allegedly hunky, one dimensional man, Marc Vandal (Jean-Nicolas Verreault). Before he can have sex with our heroine, he must gallantly resolve the issue of his missing wife, drowned the previous year. Is her disappearance somehow connected to the halting of the tides, which is the cause of the strange upheavals and will trigger the great earthquake? Of course it is. This is a film which asks one to utterly suspend disbelief... how metaphysical of it. It requires us to swallow, literally or otherwise- that a body can be drowned, float in water with the fishes an entire year, actually be heard as it's sucked into a seaplane along with a cargo hold of water, dropped from great heights onto a forest fire, recovered from the ashes of said forest through the aerial detection of a metal watch still attached to a wrist(?) And somehow remain intact enough throughout all of this, to conveniently form the shape of a body encased in a body bag. This of course enables our hero to stride across the tarmac, carrying it dramatically draped over his arms as a recognizable human form. So he can finally go have guiltless sex on a beach, to the tune of, and the earth moves under my feet...? (Alright, I was only humming it in my head.)

"La Turbulence des Fluides" is a film replete with symbols and allegories, haphazardly accumulated to suggest the presence of meaning, but which ultimately comes across as superficial, regrettably self-conscious and on occasion, ridiculous. Still, some people liked it. It did, after all, win an award.

"La Turbulence des Fluides" cast and production crew at Closing Awards Ceremony.
Producer/director Luc Besson (second from left) received a Grand Prix of the Americas during the Festival for his exceptional contribution to the cinematographic art.
© Linda Dawn Hammond/ IndyFoto 2002

The talented opera singer Er Demutu performed with his Mongolian singers and dancers.
© Linda Dawn Hammond/ IndyFoto 2002


Linda Dawn Hammond

AUGUST, 2003

2003 Montreal World Film Festival
27th Edition
This year's on-site coverage!

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