Festival Spotlight: RIDM 2022

The 2022 edition of RIDM has come and gone, leaving us with some long-lasting, thought-provoking films in our collective memory. These are the documentaries that sparked Juan Ospina and Antoine Demeule’s curiosity.

Luminum dir. Maximiliano Schonfeld (Argentina)

Something special at the core of Schonfeld’s film pushes you towards it as if it had its own gravitational pull. Its acute attention to human relationships, focusing in particular on the elderly, while drawing textural visually striking parallels with their hobby (UFO research) creates an unlikely amalgam of images, sounds, and fleeting moments that speak to the human condition, our curiosity our passions and most importantly, our memory. Luminum never drags a single beat, it keeps your heart racing in a journey that requires your five senses. 

The One Who Runs Away is the Ghost dir. Quinyuan Lei (China, Germany)

Drawing parallels from nature into poetry is certainly commendable however finding the similarities and letting them unfold without that extra step requires an amount of sensibility and technique that not a lot of artists can feature. Quinyuan Lei’s film effortlessly navigates the line between the literal similies and the stark realities of childhood in Southern China’s industrialized metropolis. The One Who Runs Away blends the magical innocence of a child’s subconscious with the incidental brutality of the modern capitalistic background where their minds are growing.

No Star dir. Tana Gilbert (Chile)

It is never easy to see your reflection. Unabashed, raw, full of grief and guilt. However, Gilbert is able to tackle herself in the digital mirror provided by home videos with graciousness and fortitude. No Star ultimately is a reminder of two values in its nucleus. Firstly, how important love and tenderness are all through life, from childhood to motherhood. Secondly, how crucial it is to record and archive, images are truly time capsules of history. 

Jouvencelles dir. Fanie Pelletier (Québec)

While Québec has always maintained an interest in coming-of-age stories, this kind of exploration has traditionally been relegated to fiction filmmaking. As a documentary, Fanie Pelletier’s first feature tries to fill that gap by exploring the complexities of Generation Z, especially the relationships between teenage girls and digital platforms. These platforms dictate the film itself, sometimes taking the entirety of the screen, in never-ending loops of various live streams and TikTok videos. Anxieties, self-doubt, and other self-deprecating feelings of non-belonging translate themselves on-screen in an almost overwhelming manner, similar to the way we would navigate digital platforms on our phones or computers. The raw capture of everyday lives brings a welcoming balance to the documentary, building a portrait of these young women through touching moments of friendships, success, and failures.

On fait toutes du Show-business dir. Nicole Giguère (Québec)

The screening of this 1984 documentary proves the never-ending importance of keeping meticulous care of our national archive, even if this particular film is not a national film per se. Produced by Vidéo Femmes (an artist-run center that used to provide support for production filmmaking that has now merged with SPIRA), On fait toutes du Show-business demonstrates how female musicians would navigate the music industry in the 1980s, and how they would construct their identities and their lives within a patriarchal environment. The film was also put in relation to today’s continuous fight by women in the music business, demonstrating that the work that Marjo, Louise Portal, and company were doing 40 years ago is still relevant to this day, and maybe more than ever – hence the importance of keeping one’s archive at all cost.

The Choice dir. Joanne Popinska, (Canada-Poland)

How can a documentary bring its subject closer to the viewer? Can virtual reality be an answer? At least, The Choice might seem like it could. Taking a supremely personal approach, this VR documentary places the viewer in direct relation with its subject. We are invited to meet Kristen, a young woman from Texas. Kristen needed to have an abortion due to physical abnormalities in her baby, but to do so, she has to go through doctors that could legally lie to her. Gradually, we choose what questions to ask Kristen, as if we were talking to someone we had just met, and get to understand her perspective on abortion and how its access is currently being under attack in a lot of places in the United States. This very intimate short film showcases how VR can enhance our perception of a documentary by situating the viewer in a more active role, almost implicating them into the film itself.

Rojek dir. Zaynê Akyol (Québec)

Filmed in Rojava and in Syria, Akyol’s film interviews men and women of the Islamic State who are currently incarcerated in Syrian Kurdistan. In between these claustrophobic interviews, where tight framings and close-ups situate the viewer vis-à-vis jihadist beliefs, Akyol takes her time to show detailed aerial shots of both countries. This process allows her to showcase other communities of the conflict like women anti-terrorist groups, especially near the end of the film – a continuation of her previous feature Gulîstan, Land of Roses. With a running time of 122 min, this back-and-forth between confined interviews and wide landscapes certainly takes its time to develop but remains a highly important viewing for anyone interested in introspection, regrets, guilt, and beliefs… or the lack thereof.

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