Thursday, 14 February 2008

Tough Films about Tough Situations: Family Motel and Is My Story Hurting You? at Rendez-vous du cinéma québécois

This weekend the Rendez-vous de cinema québécois begins, and films by two friends will be getting prominent play. One is a wonderful docudrama by Helene Klowdawsky, Family Motel, which we saw at the end of the summer during the Montreal World Film Festival. It tells the story of a hardworking Somali mother, who struggles to send money back to her husband and sons stranded in that country, finds herself over her head in Ottawa where she is living with her two teenaged daughters. They end up in Family Motel when they are evicted from their apartment. The story is one of those which is “truer” than a documentary: the three actresses at the center of the film are really mother and daughters, but the story is not really their story. Nevertheless it captures the spirit and courage it takes to try to make it in North America, even when you have already passed the hurdle of getting official refugee status.

It will be screened Saturday February 16, 3 p.m. at the Cinema du Parc
3575, avenue du Parc and Thursday, February 21, at the Centre Segal des arts de la scène, 5170, chemin de la Côte-Ste-Catherine.

The other is the first film directed by novelist David Homel, whose novel about the war in Serbia, The Speaking Cure, won the Hugh MacLennan Prize for Fiction in 2003. Is My Story Hurting You? is a documentary focusing on Vladimir Jovic, a Bosnian Serb psychiatrist who saw the break-up of his country and the end of Slobodan Milosevic's dictatorship. I haven’t seen the film, but the novel was first rate and I know that David has poured great skill and passion into making the film.
The film will be shown in a French version on Sunday, February 17 at 8 p.m. at the National Film Board cinema (1564, rue Saint-Denis) and in English on Tuesday February 19 at the Centre Segal des arts de la scène (5170, chemin de la Côte-Sainte-Catherine).

Both are highly recommended. And it’s also worth noting that both films received considerable encouragement from the National Film Board, a unique organization which supports films that would never be made if the filmaker had to depend on commercial markets.

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