After a pause of no less than six months, I felt like blogging again, and I’m back! And what would be a more perfect occasion than my blogging anniversary?! Since yesterday, October 21st, 2022, The Wonderful World of Cinema is eight years old! How impressive is that?! In two years only, we’ll celebrate its tenth anniversary. Hard to believe. I feel like it was just yesterday when I decided to create that blog to write film reviews on a platform in my own image and spread the love of (mostly) classic films. I feel that the world of classic film bloggers has greatly increased since. We’ve had talented newcomers every year. Some also slowed down or stopped their activity, which is sad, but something I can understand. I don’t think I’ll ever stop blogging (well, for now, it’s not in my plans), but life and its circumstances don’t always go along with a blogging schedule. Not everybody knows it (bloggers do), but writing an article can take considerable time. That being said, I must admit that the 12 previous months haven’t been my most prolific in terms of posting. A lot can explain that, such as working full-time jobs in film festivals and writing for Sequences film magazine (you have to respect deadlines and all). And this summer, I was very much in a mood to go out and see friends rather than blogging. Well, I generally don’t blog a lot during the summer.
Anyway, my apologies to all those who created blogathons I’ve missed! I myself miss hosting them! Hopefully, maybe next Winter or Spring, if my schedule allows it.
Moreover, that last blogging year, although not my most active, has been a weird one, especially with the passing of Patricia “Paddy” from the blog Caftan Woman. What a loss! She was among my most faithful readers and always chose the right words to comment on our blogs. She was encouraging, positive and a devoted reader. Although she was only one person, I lost a significant part of my audience.
Ok, I don’t want that post to be too sad! Its first objective is, first and foremost, to celebrate eight years of hard work, expression and of classic film passion! And you know what else I love doing? Yes, you know it, come on. 😉 Top lists, of course! I’m improvising things a little now. I initially intended to be back with a top list, but then I remembered it was my blogging anniversary. So, I’ve decided to kill two birds with one stone finally. Anyway, those anniversary posts tend to be a bit similar after eight years, so I thought I’d do something different this year to celebrate. Remember when I told you I work for film festivals? Well, as a community manager, I’m currently finishing a contract (which began last July) with the Festival du Nouveau Cinema (FNC), New Cinema Festival. For those unfamiliar with that event, it’s the oldest film festival in Montreal (existing since 1971). With its mission to celebrate the best of today’s cinema, the FNC offers a vast selection of auteur films from around the world. These last 51 years were marked by the presence of significant figures and films. The Power of the Dog opened the festival last year, and Jane Campion was present. Among the celebrities that graced the festival with their presence, we can list Wim Wenders, Marguerite Duras, Denis Villeneuve, Gena Rowlands, Paul Schrader, etc. Moreover, that festival is now one of classification for the Oscars. So, it has its reputation. Anyway, after working for only three months for them, I’ll stop here and will delve into the essential: the top list.
Although I worked hard and long hours during the 12 days of the event, which took place from October 5 to 12, I luckily had the time (and motivation) to see some films. As a result, I made some remarkable discoveries. Although I only saw feature films during the festival, I watched some shorts that were part of the programming at home before it began. So, it seems weird to mix short films and feature films in this top list, but that’s precisely what I’m going to do. After all, a film is a film (that almost sounds like an inspirational quote). In total, I’ve seen 14 films, shorts and features included. I know there are some great ones I’ve missed, but hopefully, I’ll see them soon!
Anyway, I’ve decided to go with a top 8 of my favourite FNC 2022 films. Of course, no need to remind you that these are 100 % personal, subjective choices. I’m not claiming that these are the best of the festivals (once again, I haven’t seen them all). Thanks for respecting my choices!
Oh, and yes, these are not classic films, but hopefully one day they will be!
Without further ado, here we go!
Backflip (Nikita Diakur, 2022) – Germany, France
Programmed in the Nouveau Alchimistes section, your experimental selection by excellence, that short film explores the potential of an avatar character in the form of the director himself. The objective is to make him do a backflip, which isn’t as simple as you might think. The result is actually sort of hilarious. Although a human could seriously get injured, an avatar (a six-heart processor) can reinvent himself endlessly. So, it might not be kind to laugh at the misfortune of an avatar, but it’s hard not to. The film was awarded a Best Animation prize for the category Les Nouveaux Alchimistes-short films, which was thoroughly deserved! The film is weird, like most films from that section, but it’s a breath of fresh air and precisely fits perfectly in the new cinema vibe.
Falcon Lake (Charlotte Le Bon, 2022) – France, Canada
After a world premiere at Cannes Film Festival, that coming-of-age film opened this year’s edition of the FNC. It’s not only a coming-of-age film but also a ghost story, filmed in the beautiful nature of the Laurentides region in Quebec. That was the first film directed by actress Charlotte Le Bon, herself the daughter of Canadian actor Frank Schorpion. Although the film is not perfect, for a first one, it’s an impressive piece of work. It’s strongly supported by its beautiful images and a talented main cast of young actors, especially Sara Montpetit, who is just at the beginning of her career but shows enormous potential.
Unicorn Wars (Alberto Vásquez, 2022) – Spain, France
That was quite a film, evolving in nothing as you would initially expect. It’s the story of a war between adorable-looking teddy bears and unicorns. So far, it sounds kind of cute and silly. But beware! Yes, the teddy bears, pink, blue, yellow, with big eyes, seem very endearing at first glance, but that war movie doesn’t make an exception to the rule. Basically, it is as if you took any war movies and replaced human soldiers with these characters. It has the same violence, gore, sadness, etc. In other words, this is no film for your five-year-old child! In my opinion, the film’s major quality is its animation, which I could have imagined in 3D (especially for the scene where the teddy bears do a bad trip. Yeah, you read that correctly).
Les Cinq Diables (The Five Devils, Lea Mysius, 2022) – France
Interestingly, the festival opened with a film with an element of fantastic and a lake playing an essential role in the story and, it’s the case for our closing film too! Les cinq diables has flaws, but, overall, it’s a mesmerising product that will leave you on the edge of your seat. With its suspense and gorgeous images, it becomes impossible for you to focus on something else. Among all the films I saw at the festival, it has the most impactful opening scene. Four girls (including one of the main characters, Joanne, played by Adele Exarchopoulos) are in front of a fire. You hear heart-rending screams, and you know something BAD happened for that result. And, then, we understand how that occurred during the course of the film. It involves a family: a mother, Joanne (Exarchopoulos); her husband, Jimmy (Moustapha Mbengue); their daughter, Vicky (Sally Dramé), who has a strange acutely developed sense of smell; her aunt, Julia (Swala Emati), and Nadine (Daphné Patakia), a friend and colleague of Joanne. You might think these are the five devils, but no, it’s something else which I’ll let you discover by yourself. I’d also like to point out the great score!
Pas de fantôme à la morgue (No Ghost In the Morgue, Marilyn Cooke, 2022) – Canada
That short film won several prizes at a short films award ceremony held during the last festival I worked for, Les Rendez-vous Québec Cinéma. So, I was intrigued to see it (also, I loved the title), and I was NOT disappointed. It follows the first days of a hospital intern, following the steps of her mother and grandmother, only to be left with the only position left: the morgue. The film makes you think, it is a beautiful lesson in perseverance and following your voice while even adding some elements of humour. It has something for everyone, and if you are willing to discover more short films, that’s one I’d highly recommend. Fun fact: if memory serves right, I think the morgue was filmed in a hotel kitchen!
Kite Zo A (Leave the Bones, Kaveh Nabatian, 2022) – Haïti, Canada
That documentary, the second feature film by Nabatian (following Sin La Habana), focuses on haïtian culture and its art scene. With its images, colours, and music, that film is a veritable spectacle, taking you to the heart of its theme for a little more than an hour. It’s an engaging piece of art that makes you discover the beauties of a country that is, unfortunately, too often associated with its negative sides and the sad course of events. There are a lot of dance scenes in the film which I didn’t want to end because I LOVE dance. And not to mention that exciting rollerblade sequence! I Kite Zo A at the festival in an exciting context. It was presented in its world premiere, and the director sat IN FRONT OF ME during the screening (omg!). I indeed felt privileged. Then, we had a party celebrating the haïtian culture. The group Lakou Mizik, whose music we hear in the film, did a show which was, in my opinion, too short because it was GREAT. Even the director was part of the show (he’s also a musician). One of the best evenings of the festival! I highly recommend the big screen if you ever have the chance to see the film.
Broadway (Chrístos Massalás, 2022) – Greece, France, Romania
I had no expectations whatsoever for that film. I saw it out of curiosity and because it fitted well into my schedule. Ah boy! What a beautiful surprise it was! One of those films I got out of very satisfied with my choice. Some coworkers who saw it pointed out some of its flaws, but I think I loved it enough to overlook them and focus on the positive. First, I loved the epic lead character played by actress (and producer) Amanda Livanou. Then, the FNC’s website states that this film reminds us of Almodovar’s work, which is something else that piqued my curiosity. And it’s true! For its characters, themes, aesthetic and even music, it is very close to the art of the Spanish director while having its own uniqueness. So, if you love Almodovar, I would highly recommend it!
Before I Change my Mind (Trevor Anderson, 2022) – Canada
The first feature film by Trevor Anderson was high on my watch list, and, as you can guess by its position on the list, I was not disappointed. That was an excellent discovery, not only at the festival but this year overall! Before I Change my Mind, another coming-of-age film, takes place in 1987 and explores the theme of non-binarity through its main character, Robin (Vaughan Murrae). However, it is never clearly named as it was not a term that existed in the 80s. I loved the 80s aesthetic of the film (of course I did), the complexity of the relations between the characters, the humour, the music, the performances. In other words, pretty much everything. It takes unexpected turns, and you live an experience while watching it. The screening was followed by a Q & A with the director, Vaughan Murrae, Matthew Rankin, who plays Robin’s father (Rankin is mainly known as a director) and the co-writer, Fish Griwkowsky. After, at the festival HQ, there was an 80s-themed party for us to stay in the film’s mood. They gave heart-shaped sunglasses just like Robin wears in the film!
So that’s it! I hope you’ll get the chance to eventually see some or all of these films! Of course, I cannot deny the fact that a film festival is probably the best way to do so.
I’m not going to lie. With the schedule ahead of me for the following weeks, I probably won’t write again before December. I have an article due for that film magazine, plus I’m going to Portugal for a month. But it was great to be back, although briefly!
Of course, a huge thanks to those who have been reading my blog, following it and encouraging me in my writing. Without readers, it’s not the same!
Here’s to many more years of The Wonderful World of Cinema!