RIDM Festival Wraps Up

Posted by in Doc Side

ridm_jury.jpgThis year’s tenth anniversary of the Montreal International Documentary Film Festival (RIDM) has come and gone and I am quite pleased to have been asked to be involved as a jury member. I sat on the Caméra au Poing (Camera at the Ready) Jury with Francoise David and Sylvie Lardinois (pictured with me at the left in a St Denis café at one of our three meetings). It was a great experience to sit and discuss 20 films with two other enthusiasts of film and politics. Francoise is the co-founder of Québec Solidaire, a lefty political party new on the scene in Québec, and Sylvie is a documentary filmmaker. Both women were extremely patient with my poor french and Anglophone tendencies and we conducted each meeting in two thirds french, one third english.

Watching the 20 films was time-consuming, but of course I love watching political film, so it was a labour of love. I had my choices narrowed down to four films, but from the beginning I knew which one I wanted to win. At the end, Sylvie and Francoise agreed: Trois filles dans la guerre (Woman See a lot of Things – don’t ask me about this utterly strange translation!) won. The film is exquisitely original in its exploration of the experiences of three Sierra Leonese women who were all abducted, abused and turned into rebel soldiers as children. They are now young women and have since escaped from their captors. They recount the most horrific, gut-wrenching stories of war by acting out for the camera (and us) with props, or by just talking. Their seemingly detached disposition when discussing unimaginable acts of brutality speaks volumes to the mental scars that war leaves, while the physical scars are methodically revealed by a zoomed-in slow moving camera throughout the film. It is an unorthodox documentary that provokes the kind of emotional build-up that left me dazed for two days.

I shouldn’t go too far, however, as I’m working on a review of the film for Art Threat, so I’ll stop here. In short, RIDM was fantastic this year, I really need to improve my French, and thanks to my wonderful co-jury members Francoise and Sylvie for making the experience lively, engaged, and thoughtful. Here’s to next year…