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Vol. 13, No. 5, 2014
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Robert J. Lewis
  Senior Editor
Bernard Dubé
  Contributing Editors
David Solway
Louis René Beres
Nancy Snipper
Farzana Hassan
Daniel Charchuk
Samuel Burd
Andrée Lafontaine
Marissa Consiglieri de Chackal
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Serge Gamache
  Arts Editor
Lydia Schrufer
Mady Bourdage
Marcel Dubois
Emanuel Pordes
  Film Reviews
  Bowling for Columbine
Shanghai Ghetto
Talk to Her
City of God
Magdalene Sisters
Dirty Pretty Things
Barbarian Invasions
Fog of War
Blind Shaft
The Corporation
Station Agent
The Agronomist
Maria Full of Grace
Man Without a Past
In This World
Buffalo Boy
Shake Hands with the Devil
Born into Brothels
The Edukators
Big Sugar
A Long Walk
An Inconvenient Truth
Sisters In Law
Send a Bullet
Banking on Heaven
Chinese Botanist's Daugher
Ben X
La Zona
The Legacy
Irina Palm
4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days
Poor Boys Game
Finn's Girl
Leaving the Fold
The Mourning Forest
Beneath the Rooftops of Paris
Before Tomorrow
Paraiso Travel
Necessities of Life
For a Moment of Freedom
Blood River
By the Will of Genghis Kahn
The Concert
Weaving Girl
Into Eternity
When We Leave
Le Havre
Presumed Guilty
A Separation
Take This Waltz
Beyond The Walls
The Place Beyond the Pines




A & O film critic Nancy Snipper has seen the following films. Here are her ratings and comments, always out of 4, reserving 2.5 or more for a noteworthy film, 3.5 for an exceptional film, 4 for a classic.



3.7 -- NOMADIC CHILDHOODS, Christophe Boula
[reviewed by Nancy Snipper] A visually stunning film that tells the story of children living in a hostile world in Central Asia. Each separate story offers a glimpse of life where peculiar problems affect the family members, particularly the children. The landscapes of misfortune are enlivened by the humorous lives of the children seeking escape from distinct modern encroachments affecting the region in which they live. We are taken to three different locations: a single family living in Tibet in the barren landscape of the country. Their child loves her yak Gulag, but it is taken away from her to be sold along with their other yaks. Chinese officials are pressuring the family to relocate to the nearest village, and send their child to school. Then we travel to Siberia, where we meet a young mother whose baby falls out of a sleigh and ends up in the snow-filled forest. Who will discover the baby, and will her little one be returned to her? The happy ending is a surprise. Finally, we are taken inside a Mongolian village where mining companies are invading the families - all of whom live in yurts. But this film is a light-hearted love story about two young teenagers in love who spend most of their time trying to find a place to be alone and make love. The filmmaker has dedicated most of his life filming in Asia, and although this film is his first fiction feature, one would never know this, as the superb editing, cinematographic brilliance and honesty reach a rare caliber of excellence that ranks the entire work as a remarkable film worthy of its Competition status in the festival.

4.0 -- THE MAFIA KILLS ONLY IN SUMMER, Pierfrancesco Diliberto
[reviewed by Nancy Snipper] Incredibly funny, and yet this is a film based on true murderous events that took the lives of policemen, judges, politicians and inspectors at the hands of the Mafia. Their evil killing afflicted the city of Palermo years ago, and today, the situation has improved there. The story starts with the day Mafioso Vito Ciancimino is elected mayor of the city. It is also the day Arturo is born. This curious boy has two obsessions, his young classmate Flora and the Prime Minister of Italy. He also is obsessed with learning about the Mafia. The humour arises in how the young boy fails at every turn to capture ten-year-old Flora's heart and to make a go of it as a budding journalist. He actually works as a piano player for a TV raving gay personality host. The director stars as Arturo, the adult. He has brilliantly merged tragedy with comedy in plot, acting and dialogue. It's Diliberto's first feature; he honed his creative acumen under the mentorship of Zeffirelli. He has his own TV show in Milan, and judging by his wicked rapid-fire wit, revealed in the Q & A at the festival, one imagines that the whole of Italy tunes in to watch this loveable laugh-out-loud, talk-show host-star who makes Italians feel younger while insightfully dilating on the subject of war and peace. It's ironic and wonderful.

3.8 -- QUEEN OF THE MOUNTAINS, Sadyk Sher-Niaz
The most significant film to come out of Kyrgyzstan that tells the true amazing heroic story of Kurmanijan Datka, a young woman whose husband is murdered as he tries to unite his nation while keeping the mountain way of life intact for his people. They inhabit the rugged region of Alia in Central Asia. They are known for their sure-shot arrows, courage, warrior honour and strength. This brave woman becomes Queen of Kurmanjan, and makes the ultimate sacrifice in order to stop the continual warring between all the peoples of the country who fight one another while railing against repressed by Russian rule. We are taken on a roller coaster ride over a period of 400 years that ends in the last century when Kyrgyzstan became independent in 1901 from Russia, after which a national assembly of all peoples in the area was formed. Today, school children in the country celebrate her as an eternal legendary figure whose tenacity and respect for Mankind has been imparted in the people -- all united now -- that she left behind. This is her legacy. The film made with one-and-a-half-million dollars is the largest budget ever spent on a film from Kurgyzstan. The producer is a Member of Parliament. It is a stunning epic piece of history filmed with equally inspiring cinematography.

3.1 -- MATEO, Maria Gamboa
[reviewed by Nancy Snipper] Mateo is a 16-year-old disenfranchised teenager who extorts money for his violent uncle. He shares the dough with his mother who decides she no longer wishes to have anything to do with taking dirty money. Mateo's agrees to spy for his uncle on the theatre group he reluctantly joins, but he soon finds his way, befriending the group, enjoying the theatre therapy, and trusting the drama teacher, who is in fact a priest. This important film is based on the harsh conditions facing people struggling to live in Columbia's Magdalena River valley. Theatre groups have sprung up as a serious solution to the problems facing its young inhabitants, and the film stunningly details these theatre sessions. What an admirable way for people to connect. The film is a diamond in the rough.

[reviewed by Nancy Snipper] Well acted, but a complete bore, the film has little dialogue as it takes us into the inner life of a mentally ill 29-year-old chambermaid who hides under hotel guests' beds to enliven her life. She meets a dominatrix during one of her secret under-the-bed-voyeurism ventures and eventually calls her. She hires her to slap her around and do more with her. It seems Lynn is seeking love, but no one wants to return it. A very German film that attempts to dig into a complex troubled woman who needs a better film script rather than a better shrink.

2.9-- THE STATESMAN, Pierre Courège
[reviewed by Nancy Snipper] A slick portrayal of political behind-the scenes vying for power. The plot introduces the outgoing President of France, Jean-François Vanier who is up for re-election, but is clearly losing the race, according to the polls. His campaign is failing, so he hires a young ambitious woman who knows the country’s adored political icon, Robert Bergman - now retired and living in the village of Gers. It is Vanier’s intention to get this influential left-wing non-practicing politician on side with him. He knows this will boost his rating, and win him the election. But everything backfires due to betrayal and intrigue. The twists are rather cunning and novel. Plausible? I think not, but nonetheless, the film keeps our attention, and this is not only because the scenery is lovely, but the cast is great.

2.7 -- PURE LIFE, Jérémy Banster
[reviewed by Nancy Snipper] In 1949, 23-year-old French explorer Raymond Maufrais goes alone into the Amazon forest on foot in the Guyanese jungle towards the dangerous Tumac Humac Mountains where he hopes to meet the native Indians. Unfortunately, his naïve enthusiasm does little to help him finish his journey. He has no money, poor equipment and absolutely no previous preparation either physically or mentally to handle the daunting jungle that eventually swallows him up; he disappears - never to be found, despite 12 attempts by his father to rescue his son. His only companion was a dog that eventually ends up in Maufrais’ belly. Only his journal is what is found by an Indian, and it is via this journal that this movie could be made. It is compelling biopic, but some parts were less convincing than others. The main actor, Stany Coppet was excellent.

3.1 -- SCAMMERHEAD, Dan Zucovik
[reviewed by Nancy Snipper] Fast talking high-wired Dragnet-type scam artist and marketer with huge ideas, Silas Breece, gets involved with a shady world-wide group of eccentric investors who belong to the secret Consortium. From conceiving the development of bars in water towers, a casino over the bridge of Las Vegas to a floating island casino off Chicago’s waters, called Elbatraz (a mix of Napoleon and Capone elements), Silas fails to come through on them all; he left out the legal aspects of making good on these projects. Zucovic himself stars as Silas, and he puts in a masterful performance. The film deserves to be in the Competition category.

3.1 -- LITTLE ENGLAND, Pantelis Voulgaris Zucovik
[reviewed by Nancy Snipper] A masterly crafted Greek film set on Andros Island in the 1930s. Spyros and Orsa are in love, and her younger sister, Moscha is in love with her English teacher (we never meet him). Their wicked mother denies them each the right to marry their beloved; these men have no position in life. She forces Orsa to marry another man, and when Spyros returns, Orsa finds out that the man Moscha is to marry is in fact Captain Spyros – the very man that Orsa loved. Orsa must endure hearing the love-making between her sister and Spryos, as they all live in the same house. Tragedy ensues, and this Greek family ends up shattered in more ways than one. It did become a little melodramatic at the end, but in all, the film is an enduring saga that ranks as iconic Greek cinematography.

3.1 -- A DROP OF THE GRAPEVINE, Yukiko Mishima
[reviewed by Nancy Snipper] An elegiac film that laments the failure of Ao to find the best way to make his vines produce great wine. This sensitive man has an axe to grind as he is going deaf. Once an established conductor, his career came to a halt the day he discovered he could not hear the orchestra he was conducting. The story brings us his brother Roku and Erica - a young woman whose own strange and hurtful past unites the trio and their friends to eventually produce a wonderful Pinot Noir wine. The earth is bountiful and ancient. Beautifully filmed with poetic dialogue and landscapes in Sorachi, Japan, the music of Cavalleria Rusticana, provides an ethereal backdrop for the entire film that also profits from Peruvian and cabaret music that helps the vines grow. A most unusual film that will especially appeal to wine growers, lovers of the earth and sensual scenery.

[reviewed by Nancy Snipper] The Bay of Suncheon is South Korea with its reeds and salt-swamps provides the seafood for the fishermen – including women who live in the village along the shore. Woo-sukYun is in her seventies, but no matter. The woman has the strength and stamina of a 20-year-old, and it is she who supports her family, fishing, sewing the nets, gathering seeds from the wild plants, cooking and painting bamboo. Her days and nights consist of work and more work, but she steps up to the plate. She takes care of her useless but kind-hearted husband who is an alcoholic. The landscape is truly astounding in this documentary that brings us a segment of society that is almost unbelievable to witness. The hardships are many, and yet the people live a long life. Physical labour near the sea may be the answer to longevity.

2.8 -- POLICE INVESTIGATION, Daniel Aguirre
[reviewed by Nancy Snipper] Sergio and Dani are trying to be cops, but they aren’t at all qualified. It’s like a Mr. Bean meets Peter Sellers duo. Sergio is a salesman and Dani never made it to police school The movie is hilarious at it shows them pretending to be on the job; they stake out suspicious locations – in particular a factory, buy high tech recording equipment and chase down the wrong people. But as luck would have it, they actually do nail someone and they become heroes. The comedic dead=pan banter between them is enough to put the stars of Saturday Night Live out of work. I’ve never seen such a funny store where the salesman is trying to sell Serigo toys for his kid in this laugh-out-loud feel good.

3.1 -- THE LAST WISH, Namik Ajazi
[reviewed by Nancy Snipper] In the 1980s, Albania did away with its most valued higher-ups loyal to the Communist regime. Deep in the throws of Communism, the regime showed no mercy to those whose time had come to take the fall – all expendable pawns in the game of trail and errors. Mentor, who is head of the Secret Service gets arrested, and Martin, his son is given tapes by his father (before his arrest) that bear witness to the atrocities his dad was part of. Mentor knows his time is coming, and records everything in these tapes that his son is to smuggle out of the country. Martin and his mother are sent to Internment Camp, but martin has a way to escape. The tapes make it out, and so does Martin, but he pays the biggest price of all - even when he makes it to Italy. Before he meets his final moment, he goes on TV to tell his story to the world. His father is granted his last wish, and both father and son, their last breath. The music was too overpowering and melodramatic; the performances were good enough on their own. Still, the film is important as how many people really know what happened in Albania. This film tells it all.

2.3 -- THE BOAR KING, Chen-Ti Kuo
[reviewed by Nancy Snipper] Based on the 2009 typhoon that hit mountain villages in South Taiwan, the film shows us how the courage of one daughter with her step-mother rebuild the beautiful hot spring area to resurrect it as it was before Ying, the husband walked right into the typhoon to film it, disappearing for good. He knows he is going to die soon, as he has been diagnosed with cancer, and so he sends out invitations for the villagers to attend his wake once everything is rebuilt. Beautiful and sad landscapes that show how things were before and after the disaster constitute the strongest part of the film. The Boar King refers to the strong villager who helps the two women rebuild their hotel. He is also great at catching boars, evidently. The hotel is actually called The Boar Hot Spring.

2.3 -- SCHIMARE, Alex Sampayo
[reviewed by Nancy Snipper] A couple are driving from Bucharest to Spain with an orphan girl from Romania. The wife is a nervous wreck who has fits of hysteria which her husband addresses in loving ways. It turns out the girl is destined for death – both her kidneys are to be removed in an illegal act of child trafficking. Too much violence and strange scenes of ‘I love you and I love you not” from the couple who are clearly in a relationship crisis as well as in torment about what they are doing. The ending is not a happy one, and the acting was over the top from the get-go.

2.2 -- TODAY, I DID MY LAUNDRY, Zach Patton
[reviewed by Nancy Snipper] Canadian 15- minute short that shows how love and marriage can end in murder. Beautifully filmed, the character at the centre of the story is a lonely, compulsive counter whose boring life is about doing the laundry and detailing his daily routine. The entire film is a voice-over as he recounts his love-gone-wrong story. He finally meets the lady of his dreams. He courts her; she returns his love -- for a while, but then, it all turns sour. No wonder his wife cheats on him. His madness manifests in more ways than one. It's a taut piece and the director ought to venture into features.


2008 Montreal World Film Festival Ratings, click HERE.
2009 Montreal World Film Festival Ratings, click HERE.
2010 Montreal World Film Festival Ratings, click HERE.

2011 Montreal World Film Festival Ratings, click HERE.

2012 Montreal World Film Festival Ratings, click HERE.

2013 Montreal World Film Festival Ratings, click HERE.



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