November Film Fest Quickies
by Ralph Lucas
(November 13, 2023 – Toronto) We’ve made some changes and updates, to our November Film Festivals page that we thought you should know about. Up first, starting today, the Pomegranate Film Festival (POM) will be screening 68 films with proceeds to be donated to provide food & shelter for refugees from Artsakh through the All for Armenia Charity Fund. This year more than half of the films on the schedule are directed by filmmakers who have successfully screened previously at POM. While the festival kicks off today, the film portion begins Wednesday with a screening of Atom Egoyan’s Seven Veils. One of the Canada’s most celebrated storytellers, Egoyan has captured 25 Canada Screen Awards (formerly the Genies), 5 prizes at the Cannes Film Festival and 2 Oscar nominations. Seven Veils is his 10th presentation at POM. He will be in attendance for an exclusive Question & Answer session and will also be signing autographs to raise additional funds for refugees from Artsakh.
The Montreal International Documentary Festival (RIDM) also kicks off on the 15th. As previously mentioned, the opening feature is Bye Bye Tiberias. It’s Lina Soualem’s intimate second feature that moves seamlessly through archives, poems and voice-over to build an inspiring new narrative for the Palestinian side of her family. By shedding light on the lives of four generations of women, Lina puts into perspective the story of her own mother, actress Hiam Abbass, who left her village of Deir Hanna, close to Lake Tiberias, at a young age to follow her dreams.
Les Films du 3 Mars is screening some of their films at the 26th edition of RIDM, with the premieres of four films. Presented as a world premiere, the 19-minute short film Here and There by Chadi Bennani will screen before Bye Bye Tiberias.
On Thursday, November 16, to mark the Quebec premiere of Má Sài Gòn (Mother Saigon) by Khoa Lê, the Má Sài Gòn website will be launched on the same evening. It’s designed to provide a space for empathetic exchange to nourish reflection around the film and continue to make members of the LGBTQ+ community shine. Click here to read our review of Má Sài Gòn (Mother Saigon).
Screening schedule – in the presence of the filmmaker:
Thursday, November 16 at 8:00 p.m. at Cinéma du Musée (in its original version with French subtitles)
Sunday, November 19 at 5:30 p.m. at the Cinémathèque québécoise (in its original version with English subtitles)
Má Sài Gòn (Mother Saigon) will be released in Quebec in February 2024.
Also look for In Praise of Shadows, a new feature film by filmmaker Catherine Martin, being presented in the Panorama section – Against the grain. It runs 86 minutes and reveals the origins of photography and cinema as strands interwoven in this “cinematic meditation” in three chapters. Fleeting shadows ebb and flow in a glistening half-light, an enchanted dreamlike state that reflects on our place in the world, the passage of time, and the very essence of life and its fragility.
Screening schedule, in the presence of the filmmaker:
Tuesday, November 21 at 5:45 p.m. at Cinéma du Musée (in its original version with French subtitles)
Friday, November 24 at 3:30 p.m. at the Cinémathèque québécoise (in its original version with English subtitles)
In Praise of Shadows will be released in Quebec in 2024.
The Quebec premiere of Caiti Blues by Justine Harbonnier will be marked by the presence of the film’s protagonist, American artist Caiti Lord. All screenings will be accompanied by a discussion with the filmmakers. Caiti Lord has a beautiful voice that she plans to use to do more than sell cherry cocktails. As madness surges in the United States, in a most disturbing absurd manner, Caiti is overtaken by a growing sense of suffocation. So Caiti sings. The blues. The feature documentary picked up The Directors’ Guild of Canada Special Jury Prize for Canadian Feature Documentary at Hot Docs earlier this year and you can read our review of the film here.
Screening schedule – in the presence of the filmmaker and the protagonist Caiti Lord:
Wednesday, November 22 at 7:30 p.m. at the Cinémathèque québécoise (in its original version with French subtitles)
Friday November 24 at 6:30 p.m. at Cinéma du Parc (in its original version with French subtitles)
Caiti Blues will be released in Quebec on December 1, 2023.
Two feature film projects currently being finalized and will be distributed by Les Films du 3 Mars have been selected for the Rough Cut Pitch of the Forum RIDM, namely Nolandia by Kinga Michalska (produced by Ashley Duong, Danae Elon and Paul Cadieux – Productions Megafun), and Lhasa by Sophie Leblond (produced by Audrey-Ann Dupuis-Pierre – Metafilms). This activity gives teams the opportunity to present a 15-minute excerpt from their film in front of an audience of industry professionals.
Also at RIDM is the Maison 4:3 release, (Diary of a Father) from director Paul-Claude Demers. It will have its premiere at RIDM on November 17th. The official poster will be unveiled for the occasion, but we have a small version of it now. Self-taught, Paul-Claude Demers directed his first feature film L’invention de l’amour (The Invention of Love), in 2000. Several films followed and now comes his new feature. The synopsis: To make up for the absence of his seven-year-old daughter who lives in Berlin, a Montreal filmmaker keeps a film diary that conjures up his relationship with his adoptive father and his biological father, whom he never knew. His film diary also becomes a reflection on filmmaking by revisiting the work of directors who have influenced him, such as Ingmar Bergman and Wim Wenders. Journal d’un père (Diary of a Father) is a poetic response to help make the separation between a father and his daughter bearable. It is scheduled for theatrical release on June 14, 2024.
There’s a one day festival on Thursday November 16. The International Vegan Film Festival offers up a program of shorts at Toronto’s Innis Town Hall. It’s a tight schedule beginning at 6:30PM and ending before 10PM. The films, ranging in length between 2 and 20 minutes are: A DYING SEA – The Disaster Of The Sea Of Marmara, Transfarming Switzerland, Emergence, Wonder Pigs, One in a Billion, Pig, Climbing Further, Not a Nugget, Kittengate: Outrage After Climate Scientist Feeds Kittens to Diners, Spirit of the Great Heart, Will strangers drink human breast milk?, The Animal Climate Controversy, Imogen’s Story, Death by a Salesman, and Udder Singeing: One of the Horrors Behind Your Favorite Dairy Products. Tickets are on sale now.
On Saturday, November 18, the St. John’s International Women’s Film Festival has partnered with Grind Minds’ FOGFEST for a special screening of Girls With Guts. It’s a documentary on horror and feminism through the eyes of female filmmakers in the Vancouver independent scene.The screening will be followed by a panel discussion with director Becca Kozak, filmmaker Lisa Ovies and Rue Morgue’s Andrea Subissati. The screening is a 2:30PM NST at the Majestic Theatre on Duckworth Street.
Click here for links to our November Film Festivals.
Ralph Lucas is a former broadcast executive and award-winning director in high-end corporate video production. The founder and publisher of Northernstars.ca, online since 1998, he began writing about film and reviewing movies while in radio in Montreal in the mid-1970s.