RENDEZVOUS WITH MADNESS FILM FESTIVAL from Friday (November 9) to November 17, at various venues. See listings. Rating: NNNN
No wonder Rendezvous With Madness is still going strong after 20 years. Any festival with a focus on "cinematic perspectives of mental illness and addiction" is going to find plenty of material. Hell, one could argue that creativity is itself a form of madness. (I know several directors who'd back me up on that.)
This year's festival confronts its topics through a program of features, docs and shorts, supplementing the film programming (and related panel discussions with the likes of Paule Baillargeon, Mike McDonald and Geoff Pevere) with installations further west at Workman Arts, T.A.N. Coffee and, for the first time, a Shoppers Drug Mart.
The festival kicks off Friday with a gala reception at 5:15 pm and the Toronto premiere of Boudewijn Koole's Little Bird at 7 pm. A Dutch drama about a young boy (Rick Lens) who escapes from his troubled home life by caring for a baby bird, it's a little on the manipulative side, but the kid's great and the narrative moves well.
I'm particularly intrigued by Sunday's program, The Changing World Of Documenting Madness, which runs from 10 am to 4 pm and features Frederick Wiseman's legendary 1967 Titicut Follies - about the horrific conditions at the Bridgewater State Hospital for the Criminally Insane - and Charles Kiselyak's 1997 DVD supplement Completely Cuckoo, about the making of Milos Forman's 1975 adaptation of One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest, which was shot in part at a functioning mental hospital, with actual patients among the extras. The filmmakers will appear to discuss their films (Wiseman via the internet), and the program also includes a selection of short documentaries from the Here At Home series co-produced by the NFB and the Mental Health Commission of Canada.
Monday at 9:30 pm, the festival marks the 20th anniversary of Jean-Claude Lauzon's Léolo with a rare screening. A weird, funny and very personal look at a boy's tumultuous sexual awakening in 1960s Montreal, it's one of the very best films produced in this country. If you've never seen it (and given its spotty availability on cable and disc, you probably haven't), here's your chance.