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Article and Photographs © Linda Dawn Hammond/ IndyFoto '03/07

2003 Montreal World Film Festival
26th Edition (Aug. 27- Sept. 7)
GALA OPENING Aug. 27, 2003

August 27th may have been the date we came closest to Mars in over 60,000 years, but in Montreal few other identifiable "stars" emerged to grace the opening of the 2003 World Film Festival. Unless one includes Sheila Copps' stroll down the "red carpet"... she could win after all, (you know, the other competition!) Well, perhaps not this time around Mars.

(L-R) Erland Josephson (actor, Sweden, '03 WFF tribute), Sheila Copps (Minister of Canadian Heritage and would be Liberal leader), Serge Losique (MWFF director) and Samira Mahkmalbaf ('03 Jury, dir. Iran) tread cautiously upon the 'red carpet", © Linda Dawn Hammond/ IndyFoto 2002

Stars have been sighted, sparkling over Venice, which runs concurrently with the FFM this year, and they are rumoured to be positively clustering in anticipation of the feeding frenzy which is Toronto (also scheduled to overlap with Montreal). It's our fault as we started late this year. Montreal still thinks she's a coquettish young girl. They'll all wait for her, and even change their schedules to suit her caprice. Mais alas, NON.

(L-R) Erland Josephson (actor, Sweden, '03 WFF tribute), Sheila Copps (Minister of Canadian Heritage and would be Liberal leader),
Serge Losique (MWFF director), Samira Mahkmalbaf ('03 1st Film Jury, dir. Iran),
and Jury members Julie Depardieu, Rock Demers and Luis Gasca © Linda Dawn Hammond/ IndyFoto 2002

Which leaves us in Montreal, covering a film festival with nothing to offer journalists and stargazers but- films! Remarkable concept, that. 450 films in fact, representing over 70 countries. It's a daunting task, going through the thick catalogue of offerings from largely unknown directors featuring actors no-one's heard of. But it's also amazing- that human spirit and creativity is finding an outlet (not to mention, funds) in such diverse places as Kazakhstan and Burkina Faso. Attending a film festival should be like travelling rough- exhausting, but one learns so much about others and ultimately, oneself in the process. As global catastrophes mount to intertwine and further alienate, this is a good time to embark on a voyage of discovery from the relative safety of our cinema seats. And it is raining.

(L-R) Maxime Dumontier and Claude Legault,
among other Gaz Bar Blues actors, arrive at the Place des Arts © Linda Dawn Hammond/ IndyFoto 2002

This year includes a strong selection of documentary films from across the world. The festival also pays tribute to American filmmaker Martin Scorsese, who in turn pays homage to his own influences by screening the films of four inspirational directors alongside his own. And he will be there. He has little choice. Scorsese is currently shooting a film in Montreal!

OK, I'm skipping ahead here to a high point! Sept.6,'03, specifically. Martin Scorsese introduces his own personal copy of "Mean Streets", featuring a very young, hyper-energetic Robert De Niro, and an unusually youthful Harvey Keitel, among a roster of other soon-to-be cinematic greats. It includes some innovative night photography, which could teach current filmmakers a thing or two about the dramatic potential of deep shadows (I find most night scenes over lit), and astounding tracking shots- in particular, a hilarious bar fight scene, and another in which a drunken Keitel weaves his way though a party. Watching the latter was so visually intoxicating, it was enough to send audience members reeling to their next AA meetings in a state of panic.

Scorsese took time out from his busy shooting schedule to give the audience an unexpectedly intimate and generous insight into the film and its inspiration- his NY Italian background. I'd suggest hoodlum, but someone might get mad. His anecdotes included several of his family's not so accepting reactions following the first screening in 1973. Scorsese's mother, for example, found it necessary to inform the press that, "...we don't use those kind of words at home!"

I had fully intended leaving after his presentation, to make it to a final screening of "Elephant" by Gus Van Sant- but Scorsese was too damned convincing! I stayed instead to watch "Mean Streets", which I thought I'd already seen but discovered I hadn't, and now deem to be, still , the BEST FILM at this year's MWFF!
Linda Dawn Hammond/ IndyFoto 2003

American director Martin Scorsese
introducing,Mean Streets.
Sept.6,'03 © Linda Dawn Hammond/ IndyFoto 2002

Montreal World Film Festival 2003
Opening ceremony Gaz Bar Blues cast, Julie Depardieu, jury, Masoud Raouf, Louis Bélanger, See Grace Fly,/
Photographs of Opening Party 2003 Gaz Bar Blues cast /
Closing Ceremony 03 / Closing Party 03 / Reviews 2003 WFF "Gaz Bar Blues", "Joy of Madness" /

PHOTOS Page 1Le Coeur des Hommes, Le Cordon, Zen Turkey, Desnudos, When Ruoma Was Seventeen, Man Watching Video /
PHOTOS Page 2 L'Outremanger, See Grace Fly, X Files (?!), Denys Arcand /
PHOTOS Page 3 Peter Wintonic, Rock Demers, Charles Binamé The Ticking Man, Desnudos /
PHOTOS Page 4 Samira Mahkmalbaf, Long Gone, Un Filme Falado, Terminal, More Vampires in Havana /
PHOTOS Page 5 Dusan Kovacevic, dir., Bora Todorovic, act. The Professional, Gaz Bar Blues, Man Watching Video, When Ruoma Was Seventeen, See Grace Fly, etc...

Still from

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