I watch mainstream films and more obscure ones as well. Montreal has lots of film festivals and I've been going to most of them for many years now. Through these festivals I feel like I've seen the world without having to pack a suitcase, and I've met fascinating people among the stars, directors, and other film fans who attend. From 2008 until November 2014 I wrote more than 1,220 posts for the Cine Files film review blog on the web site of Montreal's only daily English-language newspaper, The Gazette. Those posts are difficult to find now, because of major changes to the Gazette's web site. I will gradually add links to some of those posts on this blog.
The July 13 screening of the Korean film The Gangster, The Cop, the Devil was sold out. Luckily for film fans, an extra screening has been added, Sunday, July 28 at 21:30 in the Hall Theatre, 1455 Boulevard de Maisonneuve W, Montreal, QC H3G 1M8.
To accommodate this extra screening, the film American Fighter, at 21:45, has been moved from the Hall Theatre to J.A. de Sève, 1400 de Maisonneuve Blvd W, Montreal, Quebec H3G 1M8.
Depraved, at 21:25, has been moved from J.A. de Sève, to Cinema du Musée, 1379-A Sherbrooke St W, Montreal, QC H3G 1K3.
The Fantasia Film Festival continues until Thursday, August 1, but the festival’s assorted juries have already chosen this year’s winning films. We still have to wait to find out which films audiences liked best, though
The information below was cut-and-pasted from an email sent out by the festival.
Fantasia International Film Festival is proud to announce the award winners of its 23rd edition. The winners were chosen through the deliberation of a jury assigned to each competition.
► CHEVAL NOIR AWARD – Feature Films
The jury, presided over by Annick Mahnert (producer and festival programmer, Fantastic Fest and Sitges Film Festival), and comprised of Shaked Berenson (producer, IFTA board member), Amy Darling (producer and festival organizer, Calgary Underground Film Festival), Miles Finberg (Director of acquisitions, Samuel Goldwyn Films) and Maurizio Guarini (composer), awarded the following prizes:
Best Film : Lee Su-jin’s IDOL
“From start to finish IDOL is an incredibly well-made film. We were struck by the great screenplay, performances and directing,” stated the jury.
Best Director : Carlo Mirabella-Davis for SWALLOW
Best Screenplay : Carlo Mirabella-Davis for SWALLOW
Best Actor : Han Seok-kyu & Sul Kyung-gu for IDOL
Best Actress : Nina Medeiros for FATHER’S SHADOW
Special Mention : Gabriela Amaral Almeida’s FATHER’S SHADOW
► NEW FLESH AWARD – Debut Films
The jury, presided over by Onur Tukel (director, screenwriter, actor, painter), and comprised of Jonathan Barkan (Editor-in-chief, Dread Central), Ariel Fisher (writer, editor, podcaster), Susan Curran (COO,
A71 Entertainment) and Kyle Greenberg (Director of theatrical marketing and distribution, Gunpowder & Sky), awarded the following prizes:
Best First Feature : Kirill Sokolov’s WHY DON’T YOU JUST DIE!
Special Mention : Yi Ok-seop’s MAGGIE
Special Mention : Kim Yoon-seok’s ANOTHER CHILD
► INTERNATIONAL SHORT FILM COMPETITION
The jury, presided over by Frederic Temps (musician, critic, founder of L’Étrange festival and festival director of Les utopiales) and comprised of Kerensa Cadenas (writer and film editor at Entertainment Weekly), Chelsea Lupkin (director, cinematographer, producer, senior programmer and writer at Short Of The Week) and Justin Timms (co-founder of Yellow Veil Pictures and co-festival director, Brooklyn Horror Film Festival and North Bend Film Festival) awarded the following prizes:
Best Short Film : Erica Scoggins’ THE BOOGEYWOMAN
Best Director : Nico Van den Brink’s THE BURDEN
Best Screenplay : Kit Zauhar’s THE TERRESTRIALS
Best Actor : Alexis Lefebvre in UNE BOMBE AU COEUR
Best Actress : Stephane Caillard in LUCIENNE EATS A CAR
Special Mention : Joshua Giuliano’s IN SOUND, WE LIVE FOREVER
► AXIS: SATOSHI KON AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE IN ANIMATION
The jury, presided over by Diana Tapia Munguia (production assistant, Cinesite Studios; marketing and PR chair, Women in Animation Montreal) and comprised of Alaska B (drummer and leader, Yamantaka and Sonic Titan) and Julien Deragon (3D animator, RodeoFX) awarded the following prizes:
Best Animated Feature : Masaaki Yuasa’s RIDE YOUR WAVE
Special Mention : Fuminori Kizaki’s HUMAN LOST
Best Animated Short Film : Kim Myung-eun’s THE FIRST CLASS
Special Mention : Neil Christopher and Daniel Gies’ GIANT BEAR
► AQCC-CAMERA LUCIDA
The jury, comprised of Andrew Todd (writer, filmmaker, composer), Donato Totaro (editor-in-chief, Offscreen) and Elijah Baron (film critic and translator, 24 Images) awarded the AQCC-Camera Lucida Award to Johannes Nyholm’s KOKO-DI KOKO-DA.
Special mention to director NAO YOSHIGAI.
The jury, comprised of Jean-Philippe Bernier (cinematographer and composer), Andy Bélanger (comic artist and illustrator) and JF Lachapelle (stuntman and stunt coordinator), awarded the ACTION! Prize to Kan Eguchi’s THE FABLE.
Special mention to Yuen Woo-Ping’s MASTER Z: IP MAN LEGACY.
The jury, presided over by Érik Canuel (director), RKSS – Yoann Whissell and François Simard (writers and directors) and Martin Girard (screenwriter) awarded the following prizes:
Best VR – Fiction: Jacob Wasserman, Nicolas Pesce and Adam Donald’s THE CARETAKER
Best VR – Documentary: Leela Gilday’s HEART OF THE SATHU
Special Mention – Best Immersive Nightmare: Souichi Umezawa’s THE REALM BELOW
I don’t know what is more surprising – that this surefooted splatter fest is the first feature made by writer-director-editor Kirill Sokolov or that it was supported by the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation. This black, black comedy is artfully done, but it’s not an art-house film. And let’s just say that most of the characters are not fine upstanding citizens.
A young man stands in front of an apartment door while holding a hammer behind his back. We can tell that he intends to use it – we don’t need Chekhov to tell us that. (Chekhov wrote: “If in the first act you have hung a pistol on the wall, then in the following one it should be fired. Otherwise don’t put it there.”)
The hammer might have further resonance for those who have read Crime and Punishment by Dostoyevsky.
The door is opened by a bald, stocky man who looks tough, aggressive, dangerous. Not friendly! The visitor introduces himself as Matvei, and says he has come there to meet his girlfriend, Olya. This is news to the bald man, who is Olya’s father, Andrei. All the same, he lets Matvei come in. One inside Matvei is ready to sue the hammer, but…oops, Andrei is not alone. Natasha, Andrei’s wife and Olya’s mother, is there, too.
Andrei and Matvei sit down at the breakfast table and Natasha goes to the kitchen to make coffee for Matvei. Andrei reveals that he is a police detective. Probably a surprise for Matvei. The hammer falls out of his back pocket. Andrei asks, casually, if Matvei carries the hammer around all the time. No, no, he says, a friend wants to borrow it. As if.
Amazingly soon, the hammer, a television, a shotgun, handcuffs, a power drill and other items will come into play. Someone will be tossed right through a wall. There will be a shower of cash. And blood, ridiculous amounts of blood, torrents of it, rivers of it, gallons (litres?) of it. (In an interview, director Kirill Sokolov said that there isn’t THAT much blood, that other films have had more. Maybe so, but there is LOTS of blood in Why Don’t You Just Die!) However, the effect is cartoonish, not like someone is truly suffering.
Assorted flashbacks reveal what kind of person Andrei is, a medical quirk that Matvei has, and the purpose of Matvei’s visit. He is on a vigilante mission, seemingly motivated by love. That makes him the most noble person in the world of the film, next to wife and mother Natasha, who gets neither love nor respect from her husband. Appropriately enough for a vigilante, Matvei wears a Batman hoodie. And like superheroes and supervillains, Matvei and Andrei have remarkable endurance.
It was wonderful to watch Why Don’t You Just Die! with a Fantasia audience. We were laughing, hollering and sometimes cringing. What is the sound of cringing? Sometimes it is “Ewwww!” As when bones are broken, blood spurts, a hammer is aimed close to delicate body parts or when one character contemplates using his tongue to. . . do something gross yet crucial.Writer-director-editor Kirill Sokolov has a master’s degree in the Physics and Technology of Nanostructures, of all things. In an interview he said: “Filmmaking is very close to physics and maths, because every scene is like a maths problem or a test that you have to solve. You try from one angle, then from another until you succeed. Very practical, very logical process.”
I hope that Sokolov will make many more films and that I can see them, too.
(The web site of the Tallinn Black Nights Film Festival, which showed Why Don’t You Just Die!, says the film’s genre is Splatter, and its tags are: Violence, Satire, Thriller, Humour.)
I am not including the film’s trailer here because I think that it gives too much away.
Why Don’t You Just Die! (Papa, sdokhni)
Duration: 100 minutes
Director: Kirill Sokolov
Producer: Sofiko Kiknavelidze
Writer: Kirill Sokolov
DOP: Dmitriy Ulyukaev
Montage: Kirill Sokolov
Composers: Vadim QP, Sergey Solovyov
Cast: Vitaliy Khaev, Aleksandr Kuznetsov, Evgeniya Kregzhde, Mikhail Gorevoy, Elena Shevchenko
Contact: Arrow Films
The loopy trailer for the feature film Lake Michigan Monster is enough to make me want to see it, and several enthusiastic reviews on the Internet further seal the deal.
In the Detroit Free Press, John Monaghan writes: “The entire budget would barely pay for one of Captain America’s boots, but that doesn’t stop the Milwaukee-made horror comedy “Lake Michigan Monster” from delivering more crazy and clever visual tricks than the last 10 Marvel superhero blockbusters put together.”
On the Film Threat web site Joshua Speiser writes: “Self-winking parody is one of the hardest genres to pull off. So, my hat is off to Tews and his band of merry pranksters. The films’ ridiculously limited budget, anemic/scenery chewing acting, grainy 16mm film stock, Dollar Store special effects and weaponry, and chop-socky editing all work to the film’s advantage to create an aesthetic that would make Ed Wood proud. . . I encourage you to follow the filmmaker’s lead — grab a bottle of rum (or two), gather together some of your idiot friends, cast off your high-brow cinematic pretensions, and cue up this 78 minutes of nonsensical nautical mayhem.”
At Isthmus, Josh Heath writes: “The black-and-white aesthetic, along with hand-crafted sets, digital special effects, and kinetic camera work make this film stand out. Its bonkers comedy, constant barrage of humor, and reliance on meta-humor, in particular, may leave some viewers a little overwhelmed, however.”
No worries, Josh, the Fantasia audience can handle it!
He goes on to say “It’s not necessarily a movie you’ll want to watch casually on a Sunday afternoon. You need friends on Friday night for something this ridiculous.”
Fantasia is showing Lake Michigan Monster at 5 pm on Thursday, July 25, 2019. Close enough? Anyway, everyone says the weekend starts on Thursday, right?
To top it all off, there will be FOUR (4!!!) guests at the screening – director Ryland Tews, screenwriter and editor Mike Cheslick, actor Daniel Long and producer Louis Schultz. I’m sure that they will share some cool stories. We can ask questions – that’s always fun! Let me save everybody some time here. The film was shot for a mere $7,000 and it took two years to make.
(At an after-screening Q&A someone ALWAYS asks”how long did it take” to shoot and “how much did it cost,” instead of the things *I* would like to know, such as “How did you DO THAT?” “How did you EVER get permission to. . .?” “How on Earth did you convince X to take part?”)
Read more about the film and the Fantasia Film Festival in general on the Fantasia web site.
Lake Michigan Monster (2018) Written and Directed by Ryland Brickson Cole Tews. Starring Ryland Brickson, Cole Tews, Erick West, and Beulah Peters
Thursday, July 25, 2019
5:00 pm Salle J.A. De Sève
1400 de Maisonneuve Blvd W,
RIDM documentary film festival has announced an additional screening of Hale County This Morning, This Evening by RaMell Ross.
The film just won the festival’s Grand Prize for best international feature. It will be shown Sunday, Nov. 18 at 9 p.m. at the Cinémathèque Québécoise
Here is the film’s synopsis from the RIDM web site: “This first documentary feature by photographer RaMell Ross radically redefines the on-screen representation of African Americans. Filmed over nearly five years in a small Alabama town, Hale County This Morning, This Evening rejects documentary conventions in favour of a sensory, lyrical approach centred on capturing moments of everyday life. Alternating between the mundane and the sublime, the sociological and the metaphysical, Hale County takes us to the heart of a community without ever squeezing it into a utilitarian grand narrative. While some of the protagonists break away, they are just one element of the sensitive reality conveyed by the filmmaker through bold editing reminiscent of poetic writing. (BD)”
Here is a quote from by Bilge Ebiri in the Village Voice: “It’s not every day that you witness a new cinematic language being born, but watching RaMell Ross’s evocatively titled documentary Hale County, This Morning, This Evening qualifies. The director, a photographer and teacher who was coaching basketball in the middle of the Black Belt region of the American South, knew the subjects of his documentary for several years before deciding to create a film around them. The finished work, a half decade in the making, is informed by his deep familiarity with its characters, which might be one reason why he has the confidence to abandon traditional narrative structures and strike out on his own lyrical path.”
“By sticking to his impressionistic perspective, by fracturing his narrative, Ross achieves something genuinely poetic — a film whose very lightness is the key to its depth. Hale County traverses years, encompasses tragedy and beauty, all in just 78 minutes. His is an empathetic camera, focusing on the kinds of details that pull us into this world, with a photographer’s eye for taking everyday moments and finding transcendence in them.”
Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times: ‘It wasn’t just anywhere in Alabama that the filmmaker had moved to. Hale County, at one point largely white, was where photographer Walker Evans and writer James Agee went in the 1930s to do the work that became the legendary collaboration “Let Us Now Praise Famous Men.”
“. . .Though words can describe what “Hale County” shows, they really can’t convey how involving this visual symphony is. As much as anything else, the film is a tribute to the mystical power of the moving image, and to Ross’ keen and empathetic eye.”
Hale County, This Morning, This Evening has 22 reviews on Rotten Tomatoes. Only one review is negative – the critic thinks that there are too many basketball scenes and not enough women in the film. Check out those reviews to see if Hale County, This Morning, This Evening is for you!
Hale County This Morning, This Evening
Country : United States
Year : 2018
V.O : English
Duration : 76 minutes
Cinematography : RaMell Ross
Editing : RaMell Ross
Production : Ramell Ross, Joslyn Barnes, Su Kim
Sound Design : Dan Timmons, Tony Volante
Presented In Collaboration With The Montreal International Black Film Festival
Sunday, Nov. 18 at 9 p.m. in the Salle Canal D of the Cinémathèque Québécoise, 335, de Maisonneuve E. Montréal, Québec,
Below are the names of all the films which won awards at the 2018 edition of RIDM. (Rencontres internationales du documentaire de Montréal). I copied them directly from the press release.
To my surprise, I did not see any of the winning films. I certainly intended to see Memory is Our Homeland, a 90-minute feature about Polish refugees who found a warm welcome, in both senses of the word, in Africa during World War II. Both screenings were sold out, though, so I could not get in. (The subject is intriguing enough in itself, but I am relatively certain that director Jonathan Durand told me about the film at an earlier edition of RIDM, when he was doing research for it.
I had hoped to see Zagros, a 58-minute film about natural yarn dyeing and carpet weaving in Iran, but its two screenings conflicted with my other choices. Now that these films have won prizes, I hope that they will be shown again in Montreal. The filmmakers are Québecois, which should help, too!
Award winners at the 21st annual Montreal International Documentary Festival (RIDM)
Montreal, Saturday, November 17, 2018 – The Montreal International Documentary Festival (RIDM) ends tomorrow, November 18. The award winners for this 21st edition were announced during the closing ceremony that took place this evening at the Concordia University’s Alumni Auditorium.
GRAND PRIZE FOR BEST INTERNATIONAL FEATURE presented by Bell Media.
Hale County This Morning, This Eveningby RaMell Ross
SPECIAL JURY PRIZE – INTERNATIONAL FEATURE
Extinction(Extinção)by Salomé Lamas
The jury for the international feature competition was composed of Mads Mikkelsen, Maria Augusta Ramos, Daniel Sponsel and Barbara Visser.
GRAND PRIZE FOR BEST CANADIAN FEATURE presented by Studios Saint-Antoine
Dark Suns by Julien Elie
SPECIAL JURY PRIZE – CANADIAN FEATURE
Symphony in Aquamarineby Dan Popa
BEST NEW TALENT FROM QUÉBEC / CANADA presented by Post-Moderne
Symphony in Aquamarineby Dan Popa
The Canadian feature competition jury was composed of Carlos Bonfil, Rosalie Lavoie and Fabienne Moris.
BEST INTERNATIONAL SHORT OR MEDIUM-LENGTH FILM
The Disappearance of Goyaby Toni Geitani
Gulyabaniby Gürcan Keltek
BEST CANADIAN SHORT OR MEDIUM-LENGTH FILM presented by Télé-Québec
Zagrosby Ariane Lorrain and Shahab Mihandoust
The jury for the Canadian and International short and medium-length competitions was composed of Kalina Bertin, Tijana Djukic and Eric Hynes.
PEOPLE’S CHOICE AWARD, presented by TV5
Memory is Our Homelandby Jonathan Durand
MAGNUS ISACSSON AWARD
And with a Smile, the RevolutionbyAlexandre Chartrand
The jury for the Magnus Isacsson Award was composed of Jocelyne Clarke, Martin Frigon (ARRQ), Viviane Saglier (Cinema Politica), Frederic Bohbot (DOC Québec) and Richard Brouillette (Main Film).
STUDENTS’ AWARD presented by Desjardins
20-22 OMEGAby Thierry Loa
The jury for the Students’ Award was composed of Loïc Piché (Collège de Maisonneuve), Florence Frigon-Morin (Cégep Marie-Victorin), Julia Bonis Charancle (Collège Dawson), Maika Hearson (Cégep André-Laurendeau), Solène Côté (Collège de Maisonneuve) and Roxana Baloiu (Collège Dawson).
WOMEN INMATES’ AWARD
A Delicate Balance by Christine Chevarie-Lessard
The Women Inmates’ jury is composed of five inmates of the Joliette Institution. Claudia, Isabelle, Marie-Ève, Nicole and Roseline chose a winner from a selection of eight films from the official competition and Panorama. This initiative, implemented for the first time in Québec for the RIDM 2011 edition, is made in partnership with the Société Elizabeth Fry du Québec, the Entente sur le développement culturel de Montréal – project supported by the ministère de la Culture et des communications and Ville de Montréal.
The RIDM is pleased to announce that there will be an additional screening of Hale County This Morning, This Eveningby RaMell Ross. The film, which just won the Grand Prize for best international feature, will be screened this Sunday, November 18 at 9 p.m. in the Salle Canal D of the Cinémathèque québécoise.
UPDATE: After watching the first half of this documentary I can say that it did not seem long at all, and it certainly was not boring.
Dead Souls (Ames Mortes for the version with French subtitles) is a documentary by acclaimed Chinese cineaste Wang Bing. Here’s an extract from the synopsis on the RIDM web site: “Wang Bing’s latest work is more than just a film. A painstaking compilation of testimonials, as precise as they are devastating, Dead Souls is a crucially important historical document. . .Wang Bing looks back at China’s post-war reeducation camps. Through survivors’ chilling stories, Wang exposes the cruelty inmates experienced and, especially, the workings of the implacable and terrifying political machine that set out, in the mid-1950s, to crush all opposition both real and imagined. The remains abandoned in the Gobi Desert remind us of the staggering death toll. . .”
A long story, with many victims, takes a long time to tell. RIDM is presenting Dead Souls in two parts, over two days, Saturday Nov. 17 and Sunday Nov. 18, 2018. Each part is 250 minutes long. A ticket for Saturday’s screening is good for Sunday’s as well.
Dead Souls has a 100% Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. You can read 13 favourable reviews there.
Here is a quote from Variety: “Wang Bing’s ‘Dead Souls’ is a powerfully sobering and clear-eyed investigation that justifies its length through the gravity and presence of its testimony. Wang. . . isn’t just making a historical documentary; he’s using oral memoir to forge an artifact of history. . . it does just what a movie that’s this long should: It uses its intimate sprawl to catalyze your view of something — in this case, how the totalitarianism of the 20th century actually worked. (One is tempted to say: quite well.)
And one from Toronto’s NOW: “it’s an overwhelming and damning portrait, but the film’s power lies in heartbreaking, idiosyncratic and overlapping details.”
I will watch this on Saturday and report back. I imagine that one COULD watch Part 2 without seeing Part 1.
Nov. 17, 2018 6:30 p.m.
Cinémathèque Québécoise – Salle Fernand-Seguin
Screening presented with English Subtitles
Nov. 18, 2018 6:00 p.m.
Cinémathèque Québécoise – Salle Fernand-Seguin
Screening presented with English Subtitles
Like millions of people around the world, I enjoy the work of Japanese author Haruki Murakami. So I had to watch the documentary Dreaming Murakami, which is actually about his Danish translator Mette Holm, and the difficulties of translating from another culture and another writing system.
Should a certain Japanese word in a passage about the impossibility of perfection be translated as “sentence,” “text” or “work,” as in an entire novel? That’s just one of many questions to be answered. Murakami’s stories deal with memories, sensations, the world of the imagination. Sometimes there are parallel time lines, or multiple worlds, and nameless narrators. What a challenge! Holm reminds us that a person must know at least 1,850 kanji characters to read a Japanese newspaper, and then admits that she does not have a good memory for them. Ouch!
We see Mette Holm in Denmark, working at home with her cat (Murakami likes cats, too) talking to other translators on the phone and in person, and at meetings at her publishing house. She makes a half-hearted effort to be diplomatic when she does not like a proposed book cover. She warns that Murakami probably won’t like it either. The publisher looks crushed.
We also see Holm in Japan, leaving Ueno station (it figures in some of Murakami’s stories), taking cabs, talking to people in bars, possibly in the same one that Murakami used to own, or one much like it. The view of the city from her hotel room window made me think of my visit to Seoul, South Korea.
Intriguingly, Holm came to her work as Murakami’s translator by a rather roundabout route, via French and France. You will have to watch the film to learn the details!
The film ends just before a sold-out conversation between Holm and Murakami at the National Library of Denmark in November, 2016. It’s an artistic decision I have mixed feelings about. It might have been nice to at least see them shake hands, embrace, or whatever it was they did upon meeting.
Another artistic decision that didn’t make the film better, in my eyes, was a large CGI frog that follows Holm around Tokyo. He is the title character from Super-Frog Saves Tokyo, a short story by Murakami that was published in 2002.
(“Katagiri found a giant frog waiting for him in his apartment. It was powerfully built, standing over six feet tall on its hind legs. A skinny little man no more than five foot three, Katagiri was overwhelmed by the frog’s imposing bulk. ‘Call me ‘Frog,’ said the frog in a clear, strong voice.”)
The frog in the film is tall, but not bulky, and his voice is low, slow, and muffled. Frog wants help in fighting “Worm” but if you haven’t read the story you won’t know that if Worm is not stopped soon he will cause an earthquake that will devastate Tokyo. You can read Super-Frog Saves Tokyo on the GQ web site. Despite this serious mission, the character of Frog has some amusing aspects, to my mind. In the short story, not in the film.
Because I am a big fan, maybe I was expecting too much from Dreaming Murakami. It’s interesting enough, though there’s nothing earth-shattering in it. On the other hand, I’m not sorry that I saw it and I don’t want my 57 minutes back either.
Dreaming Murakami is being shown at RIDM, Montreal’s documentary film festival, along with two other shorts. Teta, Opi & Me, directed by Tara Hakim, is the love story of her Austrian grandmother and Arab grandfather. It’s 25 minutes long. Turning Tables, directed by Chrisann Hessing, is about Joshua DePerry, a music producer, DJ and dancer from the Anishinaabe community in Thunder Bay. It’s 16 minutes long.
Country : Denmark, Japan
Year : 2017
V.O : Danish, Japanese, English
Subtitles : English
Duration : 57 minutes
Cinematography : Agapi Triantafillidis
Editing : Denniz Göl Bertelsen, Nikoline Løgstrup
Production : Signe Byrge Sørensen, Pernille Tornøe
Sound Design : Andreas Sandborg
Joshua DePerry is a multi-talented guy. As the synopsis for Turning Tables says:
“In his hometown of Thunder Bay, Ontario, Joshua DePerry is known in the Anishinaabe community as a colourful ‘fancy dancer’ who impressively integrates contemporary dance moves at traditional pow wows. In Toronto, he is known as Classic Roots, an up-and-coming music producer and DJ who blends Indigenous sounds with modern techno and house music.”
Turning Tables shows DePerry strolling around the reservation, greeting friends and neighbours and showing kids how he works the turntables. We see him recording music in Toronto, performing in full regalia for a rapturous club audience, and dancing in a subway station. (“Nobody stopped him!” director Chrisann Hessing marvelled during the Q&A.)
I enjoyed Turning Tables immensely even though I don’t like techno. At just 16 minutes long, it left me wanting to know more about DePerry’s life and future achievements.
Turning Tables ends with DePerry about to go to Berlin. Hessing said that he did indeed go there, and that he’s there right now, already on his second visit to that city. She did film him going to the airport, but in the end she decided not to use that footage. She didn’t go to Berlin with him, either, because she felt that might intruding on his first-time experience there.
Hessing met DePerry in 2015 and since that time “We actually can’t stop working together. We’re continuing our collaboration.”
That collaboration includes a music video and the Turning Tables Tour which will take them the film and DePerry’s DJ equipment to a series of reservations.
“Joshua’s story is exemplary in that he has proven through his musical career, ambitions, and simply through his existence, that it is possible to come out of a place of limited opportunity and create a successful and fulfilling life.”
“The tour is designed to bridge the gap in accessibility between Indigenous Youth and role models like Josh. The communities we intend to visit include remote areas with lack of resources. . .”
That quote about the Turning Tables Tour comes from the film’s excellent web site, which is bursting with information and high-quality photos. Bravo for that!
Turning Tables is being shown at RIDM, Montreal’s documentary film festival, along with two other shorts. Teta, Opi & Me, by Tara Hakim, is the love story of her Austrian grandmother and Arab grandfather. Dreaming Murakami, directed by Nitesh Anjaan, is about Mette Holm, the Danish translator of the Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami. It’s 57 minutes long.
Country : Canada
Year : 2018
V.O : English
Duration : 16 Min
Cinematography : John Minh Tran
Editing : Ryan J. Noth
Production : Tanya Hoshi
Sound Design : David Hermiston
The short documentary Teta, Opi & Me celebrates love, resilience and craziness – the good craziness, that’s warm, positive and spontaneous – not that OTHER kind of craziness that we see so often these days.
Teta and Opi are Gerlinde Abu Aitah and Tawfiq Abu Aitah, the grandmother and grandfather of filmmaker Tara Hakim. Tawfiq, an Arab from Bethlehem, was studying in Austria when they met at a dance in Vienna in 1959. (Rock’n’roll! The twist!)
Tawfiq noticed Gerlinde right away. (“I saw you dancing like a crazy one!”) He wanted to dance with this wild and crazy woman. Luckily for him, she wanted to dance with him, too. Despite the many obstacles thrown their way, it seems that they have rarely been apart since then.
Teta’s mother and grandmother liked Opi; Teta’s father was kept in the dark as long as possible. He was a man who had framed his daughter’s 1942 birth certificate, the one that attested to her “pure blood.” When he found out about Opi he freaked out and did his best to keep the couple apart. Opi’s father did the same at first, though his big family eventually welcomed Teta with handholding and kisses. Teta’s father did not attend their wedding.
Love, life and war took Teta and Opi from Austria to Germany, to Bethlehem and then to Amman, Jordan.
Their story is told through family photographs and anecdotes, mostly related by Teta (“My grandmother loves to tell stories!”) when Tara visits them at their home in Amman.
Tara Hakim took part in a Q&A after the screening, so we were able to learn more about her grandparents and how she shot the film. She spent one month visiting them in Jordan. At first she tried to film with a fancy camera, lights and a boom mike, but it put too much of a distance between them; it was too unnatural. She had been shooting them on an iPhone, in person and via Skype for years and they were used to that. So she went back to that method. Sometimes they didn’t even realize that she was filming.
It was only during the Q&A that we found out that Teta’s father accepted the relationship at some point.
Hakim said that her grandfather will be 80 in January, but he still works six days per week. He says that he’s going to work until the day he dies. Guess he enjoys it! Hard work has paid off, because their house and flower-filled garden look lovely. (He had studied business administration when he was in Europe.)
During one scene in Teta, Opi & Me, Teta tells a story while making something in the kitchen. What was it? “Potato dumplings,” Tara said. “Delicious!”
Language lesson: Opi often calls Teta crazy, in an affectionate way. At the beginning of the film, Tara Hakim tells us that the Arabic word for crazy is majnūn ( مَجْنون ). The Arabic word for bougainvillea sounds very similar and the couple’s garden is full of them. The flowers appear often in the film.
Teta, Opi & Me is being shown at RIDM, Montreal’s documentary film festival, along with two other shorts. Turning Tables, directed by Chrisann Hessing, is about Joshua DePerry, a music producer, DJ and dancer from the Anishinaabe community in Thunder Bay. It’s 16 minutes long. Dreaming Murakami, directed by Nitesh Anjaan, is about Mette Holm, the Danish translator of the Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami. It’s 57 minutes long.
Teta, Opi & Me
Country : Canada, Jordan
Year : 2018
V.O : English, German, Arabic
Subtitles : English
Duration : 25 min
Cinematography : Tara Hakim
Editing : Tara Hakim
Production : Tara Hakim
Sound Design : Ryan McCambridge
Teta, Opi & Me
Friday, Nov. 16, 2018, 8:15 p.m.
CINÉMA DU PARC – Salle 3
3575 Park Ave, Montreal, QC H2X 3P9