Short Ends had the pleasure to attend the latest edition of the Festival du Nouveau Cinéma (FNC). Although the festival has come and gone, these are the films that left an indelible impression on our team members: Vincenzo, Elya and Juan.
You can read our interviews and supplementary material here.
Vincenzo Nappi’s picks
The Maiden – Dir. Graham Foy (Canada)
Graham Foy’s feature-length debut, The Maiden, is an absolutely haunting and captivating depiction of grief and teenage aimlessness. Told through beautifully nostalgic 16mm imagery showcasing the Albertan landscape, coming-of-age in Canadian cinema is as aesthetically pleasing as ever. The film positions its main protagonists as “bad kids” with good hearts and nowhere to be, which is portrayed with such realism that it is almost hard to watch at times as it recalls memories from your own adolescence. This is partly due to Jackson Sluiter’s performance which is reminiscent of a young River Phoenix. The Maiden takes a gracefully empathetic and haunting turn as past and current mistakes collide while the future fades into the void told through visual poetry. With a debut this strong, Foy is without a doubt a filmmaker to keep both your eyes on.
Before I Change My Mind – Dir. Trevor Anderson (Canada)
Before I Change My Mind, directed by Trevor Anderson is a thoroughly delightful viewing. Taking place in 1987’s Alberta, the film follows a non-binary teen, Robin, as they attempt to fit into a new environment. With a familiar cast of characters, made their own by wonderful performances and a script that leans toward the absurd, the awkwardness of small-town Canada is brought to the forefront of this film as a character of its own. Although initially positioning itself as a nostalgia trip, Before I Change My Mind strips itself of its rose-tinted, in this case heart-shaped, glasses as we are greeted with the consequences of teenage rebellion.
Municipal Relaxation Module – Dir. Matthew Rankin (Canada)
Matthew Rankin’s latest short film, Municipal Relaxation Module, is a hysterical six-minute exploration of the bureaucracy within Winnipeg’s public services. In contrast to his previous film, The Twentieth Century, Rankin opts for a more minimalist approach as the story unfolds through a series of voicemails highlighting the filmmaker’s comedic sensibilities. If you have ever had a great idea for a public art installation, or perhaps a perfectly placed bench, then take a seat and enjoy the view.
Women Talking – Dir. Sarah Polley (Canada / United States of America)
With her newest film, Women Talking, Sarah Polley reminds us just how big a void she left in Canadian and Global cinema, by not directing a movie in ten years. As filled with emotion as it is morally correct, Women Talking is an exercise in human empathy and a lesson in feminism for those who either need to learn or those that yearn for their feelings to be validated. A precise study on the duality of human nature, Polley’s film is reminiscent of Sidney Lumet’s 12 Angry Men but updated, expanded upon and made her own, as it explores every facet of morality. This writer’s opinion is that Women Talking will be regarded as one of the decade’s most effective and well-crafted films.
Juan Ospina’s picks
Diaspora – Dir. Deco Dawson (Canada)
From the first frames, we can tell Deco Dawson’s film will be different than anything we have seen before. Its restrained camera and “slow cinema” structure might be reminiscent of Chantal Akerman’s oeuvre, especially her 1975 seminal film Jeanne Dielman. However, Dawson’s sensibilities shift and embrace a different side of solitude and loneliness, that of the immigrant, a character that stands in a liminal space completely ostracized. Embodied by the electric performance of Yuliia Guzhva in the background of Winnipeg’s North End, Diaspora delves deeply into the minutia of every struggle an immigrant has to go through, building up a landslide of emotions that conclude in a cathartic sigh, as bittersweet tears are shed. Intimate, yet collective, warm yet abrasive, Dawson ultimately created a delicate earnest symphony.
So Much Tenderness – Dir. Lina Rodriguez (Canada)
Silence and stoicism have been the ruling agents in Colombian families for as long as I can recall. This is why Lina Rodriguez’s film feels so transgressive. Outpouring intimacy and tenderness (as its title suggests), So Much Tenderness is a portrait of love; love as a tool of resistance, love as a language, and love as a disruptor. There is an obvious personal connection I have to the film as a Colombian immigrant myself, but Rodriguez’s velvety camerawork and natural dialogue become universal; elevating So Much Tenderness into a beacon of hope while retelling the still too familiar story of a torn country and its diaspora.
Aftersun – Dir. Charlotte Wells (United Kingdom)
Memory is frail and highly unreliable yet it is still one of the fiercest driving forces we have. Charlotte Wells’ Aftersun explores how we recall the past and the people that populate it, how our family ties change who we become, and how we grow up to be who we are, in a deep-seated journey through snapshots of a vacation. Aptly shifting between different formats, Wells is able to poignantly uncover the pivotal transitional fleeting moments where childhood abandons us forever. Ultimately Aftersun is a maelstrom of emotions, a nebulous collage of images and moments, an absolute tour-de-force.
Elya Myers’ picks
Cette Maison – Dir. Miryam Charles (Canada)
Beginning with a house in Bridgeport, Connecticut in 2008, the body of a fourteen year old girl is found hanging in her room. With all signs pointing to suicide, her death is later discovered to be the result of a traumatic and violent murder that haunts the memory of the family. In recounting her family’s history in her debut feature film, Charles reflects on the death of her cousin Tess by reimagining the space of grief where mother and daughter are reunited through a love that extends beyond death. Cette Maison re-examines the events of the past, drifting between ghostly visitations, conversations, dreams, and memories of possible pasts and futures that binds the living and the departed together.
Nid d’Oiseau – Dir. Nadia Louis-Desmarchais (Canada)
Lena, a young girl at school is made fun of for how her hair looks – it’s texture, weight, density, and volume are unlike any of her other classmates. After, Lena goes home to her sister for a make-over. The familiar heavy atmosphere the air thick with the residual smoke of the blistering hot iron over the hair oils and conditioning sprays (much too close to the skin), followed with the resistant pull of the brush, over and over again until… it is picture perfect. Affectively resonant, Nid d’Oiseau simultaneously portrays growing up with the self-awareness and alienation attached to the racialized body in girlhood.
Will-O’-The Wisp – Dir. João Pedro Rodrigues (Portugal)
Described as a homoerotic musical fantasy, Will-O’-The Wisp playfully recounts the youthful love story of the dying Prince Alfredo of Portugal in 2069. Confronted with the reality of the destruction of the planet, Young Prince Alfredo leaves his royal duty, much to his family’s dissatisfaction, to pursue being a fireman where he fatefully meets the tall, dark and, smoking hot Alonso. Mired in the violent histories of colonialism that range from climate change, racialized politics, to sexual subversion, Will-O’-The Wisp dizzyingly creates its own existential fairytale enraptured by the grande flurry of life.