No good comes from denying the self. If it seems like a thing easier said than done, that’s because it is. Living in a trailer park with his abusive father and staring down a road or petty crime and everything that follows, Wildhood is the story of a young man who is in so much self-denial that he is dying his hair blond in an effort to distance himself from his indigenous heritage, and that’s before he even begins to examine his sexuality.
Young love set against a backdrop of crime is a tale as old as time. In The White Fortress, the story is set in modern-day Sarajevo and follows a young man called Faruk (Pavle Čemerikić) as he navigates the current realities of growing up poor in the politically divided city.
Good news, everyone! Montreal’s Festival du nouveau Cinema is celebrating its 50th year this year! The in-person festival is over, but the online version runs through the end of October, and I will be covering it –albeit in a limited fashion.
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A young woman returns to her small, rural community and begins to effect change. It’s a setup as old as the movies themselves and one we love to return to because so much can be mined from this kind of setup. In Bootlegger, a young woman returns to the reserve she called home as a child and begins a campaign to open up the sale of alcohol, free the community from some amount of the oppression they face.
It’s a gorgeously shot and very Canadian story.
Apichatpong Weerasethakul is a unique filmmaker with only a few films under his belt, but each of them garnering widespread acclaim, probably most notably with 2010s Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives, for which he won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival. Memoria is the first film he has made outside of his native Thailand, and the first time he has worked with an international cast. While the film is beautifully shot and singular in its vision, it’s also overlong, incredibly indulgent, and will reach into your soul and pull out… something.
Night Raiders is one of the biggest Canadian films to come through VIFF this year, at least in terms of buzz and word of mouth. I had the chance to see it last week (and you can read my review here), and this week I had the great privilege to speak with Danis Goulet, the film’s writer and director.
The first thing you will notice is the cinematography. Shot in elegant black and white, the camera in Paris, 13th District (Les Olympiades, en Francais) is a character unto itself, peering into the windows and lives of the residential towers of the district before settling on three to follow. The camera then follows them, like a close friend, and while the resulting film is lightly paced and slight with the details, it never doesn’t feel intimate and empathetic.
A trio of inseparable brothers in arms, one with second sight, one with a temper, and one with a hidden past, get stranded in an unfamiliar place. An effective setup for any film, but Saloum adds folklore and the unspeakable atrocities of Africa’s recent past to the mix to make something unique.
Canada has a certain reputation that we like to uphold. We’re viewed as America’s nice neighbour, as the reasonable ones. The thoughtful and the multicultural ones. If you’re from here, though, you know that Canada’s reputation is not as deserved as we would like you to think it is, and we have a dark history of racism and colonialism that persists to this day.
This is the history that writer and director Danis Goulet draws on to imagine the post-apocalyptic world of Night Raiders, one in which the legacy of Canada’s treatment of indigenous people –and the Residential School system in particular– is drawn out to its logical darkest endpoint.