Montreal Film Festival

It's that time of year again in Canada ,when both Montreal and Toronto have their annual film festivals. Unfortunately for me, I live in Montreal at the moment and didn't have time to confirm my presence in Toronto (the groovier fest), which means that I will be covering the events in my home town, a festival also better known as THE WORLD FILM FESTIVAL. Looking over the list of hundreds of screenings from around the world, and very little time to consecrate to any of them, I decided to focus on the entries below, for which you should see reviews on our site over the next 10 days or so. To check out the entire slate of films to be shown, or anything else about the festival: CLICK RIGHT HERE. The festival started on August 27 and will end on September 7. The TORONTO FILM FESTIVAL starts on September 4 and runs to the 14th. You can check out their site, RIGHT HERE.

Director: Alejandro González Iñárritu
Starring: Sean Penn, Benicio Del Toro, Naomi Watts, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Danny Huston, Clea Du Vall, Marc Musso, David Chattam, Teresa Delgado, Stephen Bridgewater, Kevin Chapman Planned release date: November 14, 2003 (limited)

Plot: From the writing-directing team behind the Oscar-nominated AMORES PERROS comes this story in which three people have their fates decided by a car accident. The three are Christina, a former drug addict and single mother, Paul, a terminally ill mathematics professor, and Jack , a spiritual ex-convict. Initially not even acquainted, the trio and their destinies become irrevocably intertwined in a fusion of love, redemption, and obsession. 21 Grams is the weight we lose when we die, the weight carried by those who survive. 21 Grams: the gravity of life...

Director: Mark Rucker
Starring: Charles Busch, Frances Conroy, Philip Baker Hall, Natasha Lyonne, Jason Priestley, Stark Sands
Planned release date: To Be Announced

Plot: Angela Arden -- ex-pop singer, mother, and lover, an amalgam of every screen diva from 1940 to 1968 -- is trapped in an unhappy marriage to movie producer Sol Sussman. Her affair with out-of-work TV actor Tony Parker comes to a grinding halt when Sol returns from Europe earlier than expected. And when Sol suddenly dies (some confusion with a poisoned suppository), everyone gets into the act and almost everyone gets a piece of Tony, including Angela's Electraesque daughter and twisted son...

Director: Gus Van Sant
Starring: Alex Frost, Eric Deulen, John Robinson, Elias McConnell, Timothy Bottoms, Matt Malloy
Planned release date: October 24, 2003 (limited)

Plot: An ordinary day inside an American high school, filled with schoolwork, football, gossip and socializing. The camera pans across boys and girls walking on the grass, through the endless hallways of a school. They all seem relaxed, self-confident, perhaps even more grown-up than their parents. For each group of students we meet, high school is a different experience: stimulating, friendly, traumatic, lonely, hard... Nothing seems to suggest the tragedy that will happen later that day. Even the drama is depicted with a certain distance: no shots of panic, no cries of fear, only the flash of surprise in the eyes of the victims. Although inspired by the 1999 Columbine High School massacre, the school portrayed in ELEPHANT is situated in Portland, Oregon, and the characters have names and personalities that differ from the real-life victims. With long takes, deliberate pacing and a recursive and multilayered chronological structure, Van Sant refracts reality through artificiality. He doesn't seek an explanation, realizing that the chain of causation is very complicated indeed. As the saying goes, "Every blind man describes an elephant according to the part of the body he touches". (ELEPHANT won Best Film and Best Director prizes at the 2003 Cannes Film Festival)

Director: Isabel Coixet
Starring: Sarah Polley, Scott Speedman, Deborah Harry, Mark Ruffalo, Leonor Watling, Amanda Plummer, Maria de Medeiros, Alfred Molina, Jessica Amlee, Kenya Jo Kennedy, Julian Richings, Sonja Bennett
Planned release date: September 26, 2003 (limited)

Plot: Ann is twenty-four. She has two daughters, a husband who spends more time unemployed than working, a mother who hates the world and a father who has spent the last ten years in prison. Ann has a strange passion for audio cassettes of soap operas. She works as a night porter at a university, the portals of which she would never dream of being able to enter during the day. She lives with her family in a trailer on the yard of her mother's house on the outskirts of Vancouver. Ann's grey existence takes a radical turn when, after a medical checkup, a shy doctor tells her that she has very little time left, just two months to live. Ann decides to keep her condition a secret, not to tell anybody, not even her husband. She doesn't want people around her with long faces mumbling about misfortune and death. She begins to compile a list of the things she wants to do before she dies and comes up with a number of eclectic entries, ranging from "always say exactly what I think" to "wear false fingernails". Unexpectedly, Ann discovers an appetite for life that drives her to live her last days with a sensual and furious intensity she had not known before. Not only does she take her daughters' future in her hands, she also seduces (and, ironically, brings back to life) a lonely, wounded man, and faces up to what's left of her life with a courage she would have never believed she possessed..."

Director: Gaylene Preston
Starring: Sam Neill, Rachael Blake, Joel Tobeck
Planned release date: To Be Announced

Plot: When Melanie leaves the pub with the best looking man in the room, she's captivated by his charm and attentiveness. He sails her away to his "castle" -- a rundown shack on a deserted island. But as his passion becomes obsession and romance turns to rage, Melanie realizes that she has been kidnapped. Torn between fear and desire, Melanie must escape her schizophrenic suitor. A moment of panic leads to murder and madness. Melanie's time is running out, but for her perfect stranger, it may already be too late.....

Director: Ash
Starring: James Woods, Juliette Marquis, Kip Pardue, Tomas Arana, Michael Rapaport, Rosario Dawson, Ioan Gruffud, Cheyenne Silver, Kam Heskin, Natalie Taylor, Isaiah Washington, Sean Douglas, Bryan White
Planned release date: To Be Announced

Plot: This examination of the world of a young female internet porn star focuses on relationships with her father who suffers from Parkinson's disease, her best friend, her porn producer, a potential boyfriend, and her quest to understand the mystery behind her mother's suicide. The new guilt-free, voyeuristic sexuality emerging in the rising generation is explored from a female perspective as the young sex star's world unravels and she tests her boundaries and those of the people around her.



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