27 August, 2010

European Films Dominate Montreal Competition

by Sandy Mandelberger, North American Editor

The 34th edition of the Montreal World Film Festival kicked off its celebrations last evening with a world premiere screening of local director Louis Belanger's ROUTE 132. Films from across the European continent dominate the Festival's main competition section....all in contention for Grand Prix des Ameriques, the Festival's highest honor.

France is the country with the most films in the section, not surprising considering the Festival's love of French cinema and cinema stars. Leading the pack of the French entires is THREE-WAY WEDDING (Le Mariage A Trois), a romantic fare directed by Jacques Doillon and starring Pascal Greggory, Julie Depardieu and Louis Garrel. Other prominent French titles competing for the Festivals top prize include NANNERL, MOZART'S SISTER by René Féret, which views the Mozart family from a different angle; the urban drama TETE DE TURC by Dominique Elbé about a teenager trapped in the violence of the suburbs; MEETING WITH AN ANGEL by Sophie de Daruvar and Yves Thomas, deals with a couple, Isabelle Carré and Sergi Lopez, whose sado-masochistic relationship is turned on its ear in a surprising turn of events; and LOST HERITAGE by Christian Lara is a French-Gabon co-production, that focuses on a farmer who must marry by the end of the month in order to claim an inheritance.

Two features fly the colors of Germany. THE DAY I WAS NOT BORN, a debut film by Florian Cossen, shot in Argentina, deals with a young German woman who, passing through Buenos Aires, accidentally discovers a painful family secret. Bettina Oberli’s THE MURDER FARM, a German-Swiss co-production, also deals with hidden hidden secrets. When a young nurse returns to her village for the funeral of her mother, people begin talking…......

Italy is represented by IN FROM THE WAIST ON by Gianfrancesco Lazotti. In this romantic drama, a woman in love with a young man who is serving a long prison sentence writes him a sweet letter every day. As she isn’t very good at writing, she recruits her friend Katia to do the job. But Katia does a better job than Rosalba expected...

In OXYGEN, a Belgian-Dutch co-production directed by Hans Van Nuffel, two brothers must face the reality of a terminal illness, but they do so in totally different ways. In LIMBO, a Norway/Sweden/Denmark/Trinidad & Tobago co-production, debut director Maria Sødahl tells the tale of a young family in the 1970s who leave their native Norway to set up in a tropical paradise where servants take care of house and children, while the housewives gather poolside for gin and tonics… and resemble nothing so much as ticking social time bombs.

In VENICE by Polish director Jakub Kolski, 11-year-old Marek is obssessed by the Italian city, a place his family has gone to visit for generations. Now, in the summer of 1939, it is his turn to go. But war with Germany looms and while his father goes off to the army, he and his mother end up in his aunt’s country villa.

TRUCE by Russian director Svetlana Proskurina is set in a god-forsaken place that can’t be found on most maps. However, the film's protagnist is headed there (his hometow) where he wants to live, love and maybe find a wife. What he finds is much more than he bargained for.

This intoxicating mix of European titles shows the continued vitality and diversity that is European cinema. Montreal celebrates its European roots with a series of diverting and distinguished films from the continent.

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