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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.
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) and Samira Mahkmalbaf ('03 Jury, dir. Iran) tread cautiously upon the 'red carpet", © Linda Dawn Hammond/ IndyFoto 2002
(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
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" /
GAZ BAR Blues
Montreal World Film Festival 2002 / 2001 / MWFF Photo Gallery of Actors and Directors