Updated: 2013-08-23 14:32
By Raymond Zhou (China Daily)
The 37th Montreal World Film Festival opened on August 22, not with a bang, but with a soft murmur that touched my heart. The opening film, a Canadian feature titled "Another House," is filled with such tenderness your heart will simply melt in the last sequence. There are chances you may hear of it again, perhaps around Oscar time – if it's submitted as a Canadian candidate for the Best Foreign Languages Film, that is.
"L'Autre Maison," in its original French, is about ageing and how a family copes with it, reminding me of similar masterworks of late on the same subject such as "Amour" from France and Austria and "A Simple Life" from Hong Kong. As a significant demographic of the world's population goes into the sunset years, stories about them have gained more relevancy and urgency.
This is one of 20 feature films that will compete in the World Competition – Feature Films, the main section of the festival. The lineup also includes two submissions from China: Shi Wei's "The Ferry", about an old man who keeps up the family tradition of providing free ferry service for the village, and Yang Yazhu and Yang Bo's "Feed Me," about a family who lives on a floating barge.
Another lineup of 20 films will jostle for the First Films competition. One of the contestants, a feature titled "The Falling Feather," directed by Wang Yi, a painter and photographer newly branching into filmmaking, is from China. The title refers to a painting that will be sold for proceeds that will go to a village in Yunnan. Full disclosure: I'm one of the jurors for this section.
There are a dozen more Chinese films that will be screened out of competition.
Overall, there are 218 feature films programmed for this year's festival, on top of which are 14 medium-length films and 200 short films. The Montreal World Film Festival is not big on pomp and pageantry, with a small band providing the only on-stage entertainment during a simple opening ceremony. But it has solid and even great films from across the world on offer. And as shown by the opening film "Another House," it is the best place to find Francophone gems made inCanadathat one can otherwise get only a glimpse from those nominated or winning the Best Foreign-Language Oscar.