35th Montreal World Film Festival
18-28th August 2011

Loughrea-raised Danny Huston won Best Actor award ex-aqueo for his performance as Max Stoller, a gifted Israeli basketball coach in Eran Riklis’s Playoffat the recently concluded Montreal Film Festival. In a telegram of thanks Huston lauded the festival as ‘a champion of cultural diversity’. The tall, dark-haired actor/director will be remembered for his work in Birth 21 Grams and The Constant Gardener. His work as Max Stoller is his largest role to date. Stoller is based on the life of legendary Israeli coach Rolf Klein (1931-2008). Suffice it to say that the award is very well merited.

Hasta La Vista, directed by Geoffrey Enthoven of Belgium won Le Grad Prix des AmeriquesI, Montreal’s highest honour. It also won Le Grand Prix du Publique as most popular film and was commended by The Ecumenical Jury. Three young friends, each with a different disability, organize a dream trip. Through the daily difficulties and sometimes comical happenings, Enthoven offers a new perspective of the challenges and limitations of their situation, and of the open-mindedness of their families and immediate circle.

hasta la vista

Hasta La Vista

The Ecumenical Jury awarded its Prize to David, directed by Joel Friedman of the U.S. David, a Muslim child living in Brooklyn, finds himself in a Jewish School. Through the story, we are transported with finesse and sensitivity to the heart of a social problem: the coexistence between religious and cultural communities. A film with a strong message of tolerance!

The International Association of Film Critics (FIPRESCI) awarded Black Thursday, directed by Antoni Krauze of Poland, its Prize for Film in World Competition. Recalling the events of Thursday 17th December 1970. A day of death and horror for the citizens of Gdansk, Poland. The film combines recreation of events with radio broadcasts and newsreel footage of the demonstrations. During these demonstrations 45 were killed, and over 1600 were wounded. Ultimately the events of Black Thursday led to the fall of the Communist Regime in Poland.

The FIPRESCI Prize for First Film in Competition was won by Nordzee, Texas, directed by Bavo Defurne of Belgium. This film also won the Zenith Silver Award for Best First Film. Chronicling the friendship of two young men from the time they were boys through puberty and adolescence the film deals delicately with same sex attraction. It is reminiscent of another Belgian film La Vie en Rose.

Accepting the Zenith Award, director Defurne thanked the jury for their ‘courage in recognising a film on a delicate subject.’

Dedicated to the 1800 veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan now in British jails In Our Name directed by Scottish-born Brian Welsh deservedly won the Golden Zenith Award for Best First Film.

As Susie, a young private and mother returning from Iraq to a small North of England city, newcomer Joanne Forgatt dominates the screen. Suffering from posttraumatic stress, Susie has trouble readjusting to her role as mother and especially as wife to her demanding NCO husband Mark. The only person Susie relates to is her former comrade Paul. In flashbacks Susie relives a mission in which an Iraqi girl dies. She becomes obsessively protective of her daughter, Cass, who senses the change in her mother. Mark is also the victim of PTSD. This manifests itself in a hatred of Indians & Pakistanis. When Mark assaults a Muslim taxi driver Susie takes drastic action.

As more and more soldiers return from the Iraqi and Afghanistan conflicts. This eloquent plea for greater psychiatric and support services deserves to be widely seen!

Brigitte Marie Bertele of Germany won Best Director Award for Der Brand (The Fire) a hard-hitting film about rape. Judith a young professional adores Latin American dance especially the tango. When her teacher partner Georg phones her at her dance club to break a date she decides to stay and finds a temporary dance partner in Ralph Nester. As a dancer Ralph is talented. He seems like a gentleman offering to accompany her home. She says she’s in a relationship but accepts the offer. She’s dangerously mistaken. Ralph is a rapist. Returning to her apartment in the early morning she lies to Georg. It’s only when he sees the bruises on her back, and lower body that he realizes what has happened . She files a police report thirty-six hours after the event. Because so much time has passed her lawyer advises her that her case is weak Ralph Nester is a prominent member of the medical community. He counter sues. Meanwhile Judith’s anger mounts and begins to affect career her as a contract physiotherapist. On medical leave she takes the law into her own hands. As in so many countries rape laws in Germany are weak. Victims, usually traumatised, are not always believed and become victims of the system.

der brand

Der Brand

The unreliability of memory was highlighted in two award winning films the fore-mentioned Playoff where in returning to his native Frankfurt Max Stoller (Danny Huston) is forced to confront a childhood memory which proves untrue and the Japanese film Chronicle of My Mother. This beautiful production won the Grand Prix special du jury. Koisuke Inoue, a very successful writer in his late sixties, is approached by his ailing biological mother. He’s never been that close to her having been raised by an adopted mother (actually his grandfather’s lover). Over the years he’s had little contact with her. Now she’s experiencing memory loss. The family have a conference. His daughters want to care for her within the family. As his mother’s health fades Kaisuke feels less hostile to her. Are his memories of abandonment really true? Or are there reasons for why he was farmed out to his grandmother which he’s never understood?

Shown in the First Film category Eliminate : Archie Cookson, directed by Rob Holder, is a tribute to The Ipcress File, Funeral in Berlin and Three days of the Condor. Archie Cookson, a washed up British spy , fluent in Russian, mysteriously receives stolen secret tapes. He becomes the target of assassination by the MI6. While literally sleeping on the job one afternoon he finds that everyone in his office has been murdered save him. He confides in ex-CIA problem solver Ennis Miller, an old friend. Cookson is also trying to reconcile with his estranged wife and son. Ennis Miller is still associated with the CIA. They give him a new task to ELIMINATE: Archie Cookson. With a stellar performance by Paul Rhys as Archie and brilliant performances by Claire Skinner and Georgia King in support this low-budget, fast=paced film marks the debut of a gifted writer/director.

Shown out of competition Mac Dara O Curraidhin’s incisive documentary A Boatload of Wild Irishmen was well received by festival audiences. ‘I learned facts about Robert Flaherty I’d never known,’ said film distributer Mitchell Banks of Boston. Peter Rist, director of Concordia University’s audio-visual department, felt the documentary was ‘unusually critical of the “father” of documentary film.’ However, he highly recommended it. North American Distribution of the film is being handled by Icarus Films of Brooklyn, N.Y.

Anthony Kirby


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