Reviews & Previews

RIDM: Let the world come to you

Stephanie Argerich tells the story of her pianist mother in Bloody Daughter. (Photo courtesy of RIDM)

Stephanie Argerich tells the story of her pianist mother in Bloody Daughter. (Photo courtesy of RIDM)

Martha Argerich is recognized as a titan of the piano. At the age of 8, she performed Mozart and Beethoven concertos on stage, going on to win the most prestigious international piano competitions and launching a stellar career.

Throughout her life however, she remained an intensely private person, shunning the limelight.

Her daughter Stephanie, from her third marriage to renowned pianist Stephen Kovacevich, has created a documentary about her mother, affording an intimate glimpse into the humanity of one of the greatest living musicians.

Part of the newly added Beat Dox section dedicated to music, Bloody Daughter is one of 135 documentaries from 43 countries to be screened at the Montreal International Documentary Festival November 13-24.

The festival opens with The Square (Al Midan), by Egyptian-American filmmaker Jehane Noujaim, who documented the uprisings in Tahrir Square, providing a perspective she says most news organizations did not get.

Abenaki director Alanis Obomsawin is represented at the festival with her new film Hi-Ho Mistahey (The People of the Kattawapiskak) in the Canadian feature competition, which had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival in September. The film tells the story of Shannen Koostachin, a young girl of Cree descent who tried to alert the government to the shameful state of education in her community: a lack of funding, not enough teachers, contaminated and mouldy school buildings. Her accidental death at the age of 15 did not end her dream of accessible and high-quality education for First Nations children. Instead it led to a nation-wide campaign from classrooms to the United Nations, under the watchful lens of Obomsawin.

One of 41 films screened in Quebec for the first time, Ba noi (Grandmother) by Khoa Le has won several prizes, including the Inspirit Foundation Pluralism Prize at Hot Docs.

An intensely personal yet universal experience, the film takes us to Vietnam, where the filmmaker visits distant relatives to celebrate the New Year. In discovering his grandmother, he discovers himself in a journey told through scenes of everyday life layered with dream-like images and memories.

Within the Against the Grain category, defined as “Works that challenge our perceptions of popular and underground culture,” we have a first film by Mariam Abu-Khaled, a tour-de-force on how art and life imitate each other. Art/Violence, filmed in Arabic, Hebrew and English, focuses on the Freedom Theatre in the Jenin refugee camp in Palestine and its cultural resistance to the Israeli occupation through art, following the assassination of its founder, Juliano Mer Khamis.

Crippling poverty exists on the fringes of all societies, be they Lakewood, New Jersey; Bangalore, India; Sao Paolo, Brazil; Mirabeau, France; Istanbul, Turkey; or closer to home, Kiticisakik, Quebec. In its world premiere, Jean-Nicolas Orhon documents shantytowns in meticulous detail, from its inhabitants and their struggles to the causes of their existence, their history, organizations and implications. Ominously, the film is titled Bidonville: Architectures de la ville future.

Films will be screened at several locations and there are parallel events within the festival. For full programming: ridm.qc.ca. 514-499-3676.

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