How to choose films at the Montreal World Film Festival
With more than 200 features to choose from at the Montreal World Film Festival/Festival des films du monde how DOES one choose?
If you’re really brave, you can do what one friend does, show up at a festival cinema and buy a ticket for whatever film is showing next.
I couldn’t do that myself.
I use a combination of these methods/criteria below, at the World Fest and any others I go to.
1) I read all the available materials from the film fest itself. I don’t have “the big book” yet, but I will get it.
2) I look for online reviews. (All the better if one can read other languages besides English, since the Google translator is not flawless.)
Admittedly, this method is less useful at the World Fest since there are so many world premieres. Sometimes, even if a film has been shown elsewhere I can’t find a review, but I might find a longer, or more informative synopsis than the one on the festivals’ web site.
3) Ask myself if I have enjoyed the work of this director or actor before?
For instance, this year’s documentary The Truth About Dracula (Die Wahrheit Uber Dracula), about Romanians cashing in on the popularity of Dracula and vampires in general, was made by Stanislaw Mucha, who also made the entertaining doc, Absolut Warhola, which visits the Slovakian hometown of Andy Warhol’s parents. I saw it at the World Fest back in 2002.
4) Location, location, location, as the real estate agents like to say.
I check the index to see what’s available from China, Japan and South Korea because those cultures interest me. Parts of Mongolia, and the various “stans” have beautiful scenery, and I’ve seen many good films from those areas. Spain and Italy are just a few of the other places I like to see.
5) A well-made (that’s the crucial phrase!) biopic can be fun.
6) Music: A drama, comedy or documentary involving music can be enjoyable. At earlier editions of the fest, I liked Finnish director Mika Kaurismaki’s documentaries about Brazilian music. And I’ve seen Brazilian dramas and comedies about musicians.
7) Language: I quite enjoy hearing people speak Italian or Spanish.
8) Truth and Justice- documentaries that expose lies, injustice, and other wrongdoings.
9) Documentaries about people who are really special – because of their art, courage, talent, invention, experience, or general wackiness.
10) Cinematically educational – sometimes the Tribute section shows quite old, intriguing films.
11) Good-looking actors (let’s be honest!) If there isn’t anything else that seems interesting in a particular time slot and I’m not totally exhausted, a handsome star might be reason enough to see a film, as long as the plot doesn’t sound too hokey.
I probably do other things, too, but I can’t remember any more now.