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The Montreal International Documentary Festival (RIDM) announces the programming of its 20th edition



The Montreal International Documentary Festival (RIDM) will hold its 20th annual edition this November 9 to 19. With 142 films from 47 countries and a program of special free screenings in different Montreal neighbourhoods, the RIDM is more committed than ever to its mission of democratizing and promoting auteur documentaries.


The festival will present 18 world premieres19 North American premieres, 28 Canadian premieres and 39 Quebec premieres. With 61 films from Quebec/Canada, the RIDM reaffirms its status as an essential event for local artists.


The RIDM is proud to open and close the festival with two bold films made by women. Opening the event is the world premiere of 24 Davids by Céline Baril, the latest entry in the director’s unique and liberated body of work, focusing on the essay form. This time, she travels to three continents to listen to 24 people who are dedicated to changing and rethinking the world in their own particular way. Truly a thinking person’s road movie.


To close the festival, the RIDM will present the North American premiere of Nothingwood, the first film by journalist Sonia Kronlund. The film is a fascinating, nuanced portrait of Afghanistan’s king of Z movies. Through the larger-than-life artist-entrepreneur’s uncommon daily life, the director reflects on the current situation in Afghanistan and the complex links between fiction and reality.






11 awards will be presented for films in four competitive sections.


International feature competition

The 12 films in the international feature competition, presented by Bell Media, are powerful works that combine deep engagement with reality and exceptional formal accomplishment.


Political and personal issues in the Middle East have an important place in this year’s international feature competition: reflections on radicalization and islamist recruitment in the enigmatic thriller Also Known As Jihadi (Eric Baudelaire); an original and heartbreaking self-portrait focused on conservative family values in Lebanon with Room for a Man (Anthony Chidiac); a stirring tribute to Syrian-refugee construction workers in Lebanon in Taste of Cement (Ziad Kalthoum); observations of children’s lives in a Syrian refugee camp in Jordan with Zaatari Djinn (Catherine Van Campen); the consequences of attacks on Gaza through a unique blend of documentary and fiction in Ouroboros (Basma Alsharif); and the use of the power of imagination to highlight all-too-real vestiges of colonialism in Algeria in Le fort des fous (Narimane Mari).


Echoes of the past are also found in Spell Reel (Filipa César), a major political essay based on archival footage filmed during the decolonization of Guinea-Bissau; Did You Wonder Who Fired the Gun? (Travis Wilkerson) delves into a sordid family story of American racism; while Maman Colonelle (Dieudo Hamadi) is a profile of a charismatic Congolese police chief in charge of child protection and the fight against sexual violence. Women’s daily struggle is highlighted in Baronesa (Juliana  Antunes), the first feature film made in a Brazilian favela. Lastly, Good Luck (Ben Russell) and Dragonfly Eyes (Xu Bing) explore new cinematic territory to capture the modern human condition. The first reinvents ethnographic cinema, and the second crafts fiction from surveillance videos.


Canadian feature competition

As ambitious as their international colleagues, the 11 filmmakers in the Canadian feature competition have travelled the world to investigate a vast range of topics.


13, un ludodrame sur Walter Benjamin (Carlos Ferrand) is a wildly original composite essay on the influence of the famous philosopher’s thinking; through wrenching reunions, Birth of a Family (Tasha Hubbard) exposes the tragedy of the forced adoption of more than 20,000 indigenous children between 1955 and 1985; Cielo (Alison McAlpine) is a poetic, scientific and spiritual journey in the company of stargazers; Les dépossédés (Mathieu Roy) travels the world to investigate the food crisis from the small-scale farmer’s perspective; Destierros (Hubert Caron-Guay) immerses viewers in the journeys of South American migrants; Les lettres de ma mère (Serge Giguère) is as much a lucid and poignant biography as a portrait of a woman who symbolizes Quebec’s rural and working class history; Maison du bonheur (Sofia Bohdanowicz) is an affectionate, celebratory profile of an ebullient, flirtatious septuagenarian; Manic (Kalina Bertin) reconstructs a complex and troubled family history; Primas (Laura Bari) films the lives of two young Argentinian women who are survivors of male violence; La rivière cachée (Jean-François Lesage) goes to the heart of a soothing forest that seems to liberate visitors’ thoughts; Taming the Horse (Tao Gu) is a portrait of a tormented young Chinese man and his alienation from the hyper-capitalist society around him.


International short and medium-length competition

Thanks to a lack of constraints, short and medium-length films can be adventurous experiences that in many cases give us a glimpse of tomorrow’s great talents. Braguino (Clément Cogitore) is a mysterious immersion in the strange lives of two families living in the Siberian wilderness, while one of the roughs, a kosmos (Carmine Grimaldi) is an equally enigmatic look at a self-sufficient father and daughter. Several filmmakers explore their own backgrounds through family portraits, sometimes with humour, as in Tessa Louise Pope’s The Origin of Trouble, in which the director questions those close to her, particularly her not-so-close father. In Dos Islas, Adriana F. Castellanos focuses her camera on her 102-year-old grandmother, who tells her poignant story of life in exile. Exile and its torments are also at the heart of On the Edge of Life, an autobiographical film by Syrian director Yasser Kassab, and the sensual Noelí Overseas (Israel Cárdenas and Laura Amelia Guzmán), about a Dominican actress struggling with unfamiliar surroundings. In Je ne me souviens de rien, Diane Sara Bouzgarrou tells us how her enthusiasm for the Tunisian revolution was entangled with her bipolar disorder. A pair of cinematic essays explore our relationship with history: The Bird and Us (Félix Rehm) assembles archival footage to delve into the meaning of art, and Syndromes of Mimicry (Anastasija Pirozenko) is a deadpan chronicle of the adoption of western culture in Lithuania. The ethnographic film becomes a sensory quest, taking us to Colombia with Palenque (Sebastián Pinzón Silva), Mozambique with Nyo Vweta Nafta (Ico Costa), and Cuba with Duelo (Alejandro Alonso). In these three films, ghosts of the past help us grasp the present. There are also ghosts in Dream Box (Jeroen Van der Stock), an exploration of a shadowy Japanese facility where animals are sent, and in Urth, a melancholic futuristic piece by Ben Rivers, in which humans appear to have vanished…


Canadian short and medium-length competition

For the second year in a row, the RIDM presents a competition for Canadian short and medium-length films, recognizing and encouraging the vitality of a form seen by too few people. The 2017 selection boasts a fine line-up of eight brilliant, distinctive works. In the tradition of observational documentaries, La pesca (Pablo Álvarez-Mesa and Fernando López Escrivá) is a magnificent record of a day in the lives of a group of Colombian fishermen. The relationship with the ocean is also front and centre in Before the Wave (Molly Willows), a tribute to the threatened culture of the nomadic Moken people, and in La frontière (Félix Lamarche), a sensory work that’s equal parts science and poetry. Memories and missing memories of places are at the heart of Occupation of Memory (Jade Baxter) and Turtles Are Always Home (Rawane Nassif). From a more intimate perspective, In The Waves (Jacquelyn Mills) questions our relationship with nature and time. Lastly, two films make brilliant use of animation: The Talk: “True Stories About the Birds and the Bees” (Alain Delannoy) is a hilarious look at the inevitable parent-child discussion about sex, and Three Thousand (Asinnajaq (Isabella-Rose Weetaluktuk)) combines archival footage and dreamy visions into an impressive poem in tribute to her culture and land.


This section is presented by Télé-Québec.




Special presentations

Every year, the RIDM presents the biggest names and the year’s most prestigious films under the special presentations banner. Lucien Castaing-Taylor, Véréna Paravel, Frederick Wiseman, Wang Bing, J.P. Sniadecki, Joshua Bonnetta, Pierre-Yves Vandeweerd and Alanis Obomsawin are all back at the RIDM with CanibaEX LIBRIS - The New York Public LibraryMrs. FangEl mar la marLes éternels and Our People Will Be Healed – six impressive films that take us to Japan to listen to an infamous cannibal’s story; to New York for a behind-the-scenes look at an iconic cultural institution; to a Chinese village where a woman slowly dies while life goes on around her; to the Sonora Desert, a death-trap for migrants trying to reach the United States; to the heart of an Armenian enclave locked in armed conflict with Azerbaijan for more than 20 years; and inside an inspiring Manitoba school for indigenous children.


In Quebec, DPJ (Guillaume Sylvestre) and Bagages (Paul Tom) invite us to think about the human and ethical issues surrounding a major Quebec institution, and to listen to the moving testimonials of young immigrants. In the United States, The Reagan Show (Pacho Velez and Sierra Pettengill) and Rat Film (Theo Anthony) observe the birth of modern political spectacle and deep social inequality in Baltimore. In Iraq, a brave nurse films his life in Jalawla in the acclaimed Nowhere to Hide (Zaradasht Ahmed). Lastly, there is the posthumous Untitled by the great Michael Glawogger, whose final journey and reflections were completed by his long-time editor Monika Willi.


States of the World

The States of the World section presents deeply political works. Upheavals in Europe are tackled head-on in Brexitannia (Timothy George Kelly), who gives the floor to pro-Brexit voices; Des spectres hantent l’Europe (Niki Giannari and Maria Kourkouta) is part essay and part activism as it documents conditions in a refugee camp in Greece; and Ouvrir La Voix (Amandine Gay) has black women talk about the challenges of their daily lives in France. The history of Europe and the world comes to the fore with In the Intense Now (João Moreira Salles), which explores how archival footage captured, and failed to capture, the landmark events of 1968. The desire to bear witness to the world’s great tragedies is addressed playfully by Ivan Granovsky in Los territorios, a road movie in the vein of Nanni Moretti, while similar issues are handled with unforgettable brutality in The Devil’s Freedom (Everardo González), in which victims and perpetrators of extreme violence in Mexico tell their stories. Lastly, three unabashedly activist Canadian films explore resistance to oppressive corporations and governments (Tomorrow’s Power by Amy Miller), the sad fate of marginalized Rio residents in the shadow of the World Cup and the Olympics (L’autre Rio by Émilie B. Guérette) and indigenous people’s struggle to save their community (State of Exception by Jason O’Hara).



The seven films in the Portraits section document individual lives with touching universality. Christine Franz devotes her first feature, Bunch of Kunst, to the British band Sleaford Mods, the “best rock’n’roll band in the world,” according to none other than Iggy Pop; Catherine Martin returns to documentary with an observational film about seven of her friends and their inspiring thoughts in Certain de mes amis; young Polish filmmaker Anna Zamecka transports us with immense sensitivity into the life of a young girl forced to take on adult responsibilities in Communion; Montreal filmmaker Mitchell Stafiej’s The Devil’s Trap explores the highly secretive religious community of the Plymouth Brethren through a young man who was excommunicated at the age of 18; End of Life by Pawel Wojtasik and John Bruce takes the time to listen to people nearing death; the winner of the international competition at Hot Docs, The Other Side of the Wall (Pau Ortiz), captures the heartbreaking experiences of a young man and his younger sister as they struggle to support their family after leaving Honduras for Mexico; and lastly, Qu’importe la gravité is the cinematic debut of Quebec photographer Matthieu Brouillard, in the form of a portrait of a remarkable friendship marked by mental illness and physical handicap.


Sense of Place

This new section includes films focusing on specific communities and places. All That Passes By Through a Window That Doesn’t Open, the first feature film by Martin DiCicco, observes the stagnant life of men connected to a perpetually unfinished railway in the heart of the arid Caucasus; the train is also the focus of Railway Sleepers (Sompot Chidgasornpongse), a dreamlike but starkly political journey through Thailand; Brimstone & Glory (Viktor Jakovleski) exposes the incredible workings of a unique Mexican fireworks festival; in superb post-apocalyptic black and white, Carcasse (Gústav Geir Bollason and Clémentine Roy) observes a one-of-a-kind Icelandic community; City of the Sun (Rati Oneli) explores a ghost town in the Republic of Georgia; Des moutons et des hommes (Karim Sayad) is a lucid and poignant portrait of the men of an Algerian village; Do Donkeys Act? (David Redmon and Ashley Sabin) silently documents a refuge for donkeys, with voiceover reflections from Willem Dafoe; Nicolas Paquet visits some distinctively Québécois gathering places in Esprit de cantine; and Charles Officer follows the political, poetic and artistic awakening of a black girl who emerges as the voice of her Toronto community in Unarmed Verses.


The Human Machine

This new section includes five films exploring the complex ties between people and work: the disquieting portrait of a musician and top model obsessed with perfection in A Modern Man (Eva Mulvad); a description of the beginnings of a long-term struggle for Chinese workers’ rights in We the Workers, directed by Wen Hai, long-time cinematographer for Wang Bing; the daily life of a Slovak filmmaker living in Montreal in Edit&moi (Zuzana Zelinova); the links between art and the workplace in the docu-fiction Gray House (Austin Lynch and Matthew Booth); and the strange summer jobs done by some young Norwegians in Tongue Cutters (Solveig Melkeraaen).



The UXdoc section is back, offering interactive and virtual experiences with five inspiring and entertaining projects with strong political content. The online interactive experience Zeki Müren Hotline (Beyza Boyacioglu and Jeff Soyk) creates a space for collective memories of a Turkish singing star of the 1950s through 90s who went on to become an icon for the LGBTQ+ movement; a mobile app called Ennemi (Karim Ben Khelifa) gives voice to combatants in three conflict zones; Very Frustrating Mexican Removal (Fusun Uzun) uses VR to raise awareness about the fate of migrants detained at the Canadian border; Enterre-moi mon amour (Pierre Corbinais, Florent Maurin and Dana Shaker) is an interactive mobile project by ARTE that lets users follow the life of a Syrian migrant woman through text message-based interaction; and The Shore Line (Elizabeth Miller) is a webdoc about the urgent issues affecting shorelines.




Tan Pin Pin: alternative Singapore chronicles

A leading figure in Singaporean creative documentary filmmaking, for more than a decade Tan Pin Pin has been building a multidisciplinary, eclectic and essential body of work. Her films, most of which have never before been screened in Quebec, present a singular and necessary vision of her country’s character and history. The retrospective will be accompanied by a master class.


James N. Kienitz Wilkins: Réceptacles / Conteneurs

The RIDM is continuing its collaboration with the VISIONS series with a retrospective of the work of young American filmmaker James N. Kienitz Wilkins, who will attend the event. An opportunity for in-depth exploration of the unique works of a director who is always manipulating cinematic language in order to capture the essence of the modern world.


RIDM 20th Anniversary Special

Every evening during the festival, there will be free screenings in inspiring locations throughout Montreal, in celebration of select landmark films from past editions of the festival, providing an opportunity to discuss the long-term impact of the works and celebrate the democratization of documentary cinema. Presented by Canal D.



The RIDM organizes numerous parallel activities to accompany its film programming. Talks, round tables, screenings+debates, concerts and interactive installations will all add interest and excitement to the festival’s 11 days.



There will be two round tables. The first will discuss issues around documentaries dealing with private and/or family subjects. The second, presented by ICI Radio-Canada Première, will examine the state of podcasting in Quebec.


Documentary filmmakers from Inis will share the original creative process behind a documentary that used Facebook in its search for protagonists.


Three debates will be held after screenings of the following films: Taste of Cement (about exiles), Ouvrir la voix (about life as a black woman in Quebec) and DPJ (about the human and social complexities of decisions made by Quebec’s child protection branch).


Special screenings

Hosted by Patrick Masbourian, the third annual soirée de la relève ICI RDI will include eight short documentaries by emerging filmmakers. An award will be presented to one of them by a jury of Radio-Canada representatives. A great opportunity to see some excellent work by the next generation of filmmakers – free.


With the Désorienter la diaspora short-film program, the RIDM is joining forces with Media Queer to highlight the importance of the voices and creativity of racialized queer artists.


Parents and kids are invited to two family sessions intended to introduce young viewers to documentaries. Each session will be followed by a craft workshop.


For the third year in a row, a public listening session will be held, offering a group listening experience without images, where sounds take shape and spark the imagination. The audio piece Radio Syria : Briser le silence by Maëlle Grand Bossi and Cyril Mossé will be played, preceded by the short piece Du gaz dans le sang by Éloïse Demers Pinard and Nicolas Lachapelle, first prize in the Le réel à l’écoute competition.


In tribute to the late Michka Saäl, there will be a special evening including a free screening of her film China Me, presented in collaboration with the Cinémathèque québécoise.


Installations and exhibitions

Presented by the Canada Media Fund, the UXdoc space, in the Judith Jasmin Annexe building, will present works from the section of the same name along with productions from the webdocumentary section of the RIDM’s youth program. An opportunity for everyone to explore OMG MTL !, the webdocumentary project produced by the RIDM and made by students at Eurêka high school in Park Extension.


At the RIDM’s headquarters (at the Cinémathèque québécoise), photographer Ulysse del Drago presents Regardeurs, a series of 20 portraits of documentary filmmakers taken in public.


Throughout the festival, listening stations will be available for children to listen to the podcast La puce à l’oreille.


Alongside the screening of Destierros (Hubert Caron-Guay), the RIDM is working with Galerie Dazibao, which will present a triple exhibition, Hillside Projects + Hubert Caron-Guay + Lisl Ponger, from October 19 to December 16.


Open Immersion

In 2016, the Ford Foundation, the National Film Board of Canada and the Canadian Film Centre brought together Canadian indigenous artists and racialized artists from the U.S. South for a laboratory called Open Immersion, where the artists experimented and created prototypes exploring the responsibility and potential of virtual reality. The lab’s results examine the ways in which power, aesthetics, perspectives and representation operate in the VR medium. Their findings highlight the ways in which a critical approach to the medium can lead to artistic innovations and build a more inclusive grammar. At several points during the RIDM, participants will use their prototypes as a basis for discussing their artistic practices and the potential and challenges of the medium. Participants in the Open Immersion lab include Scott Benesiinaabandan, Danis Goulet, Nyla Innuksuk, Lisa Jackson, Elle-Maija Tailfeathers, Kai Barrow, Michaela Pilar Brown, Kimi Maeda, Tiona McClodden, Jacqueline Olive and RaMell Ross.


Music program

For the last few years, the Beat Dox Sessions have enlivened the RIDM headquarters with great concerts and inspired DJ sets. This year’s program, put together by Ouss Laghzaoui in partnership with well known local music promoters and festivals like Arbutus, Blue Skies Turn Black, Pop Montréal, M pour Montréal and CISM, will showcase local talent. Everyone is welcome to come dance and party to the sounds of Moon King, Technical Kidman, JLK, Lonely Boa, Walrus, Doldrums and more.


Thanks to the RIDM’s loyal partners


The RIDM gratefully acknowledges the support of its institutional, primary and associate partners, who have helped make this year’s 20th edition a memorable one. Thanks to the Ministère de la Culture et des Communications, SODEC, the Secrétariat de la région métropolitaine, Telefilm Canada, the Ville de Montréal, the Canada Council for the Arts, the Conseil des arts de Montréal, Bell Media, the CSN, Canal D, the Canada Media Fund, FACTOR, Radio-Canada, Télé-Québec, Planète+, TV5, Tourisme Montréal, Cineplex, Cinéma du Parc, Concordia University, the Université du Québec à Montréal and the Cinémathèque québécoise.


Quebec’s only film festival dedicated to documentaries, the Montreal International Documentary Festival presents the best reality‐based films, including the works of established directors and new talents.


The 20th annual RIDM will take place from November 9 to 19, 2017

at the Cinémathèque québécoise, Cinéma du Parc, Cineplex Quartier Latin, the Pavillon Judith Jasmin Annexe and Concordia University.


Information: /






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