Ten favorite things about the Festival of New Cinema and Media
10. My hotel room is nicer than my apartment. I thought for a while that my hotel room was bigger than my apartment, but that was a trick of light. My hotel is also built on a hill, which means that if I count from the main lobby, I’m on the fifth floor, but if I count from the Sherbrooke Street plaza entrance, I’m on the third floor.
9. Montreal weather somewhere between briskly cool and brutally cold, which means that one never sits in a movie thinking ‘I wish I was at the beach.’. Well, one might, but one can’t act on it.
8. Most of the local population seems to speak English. Especially after they hear me speak French.
7. Having been away from Montreal since 1989, I discover that it’s changed rather less than Toronto in 13 years. Despite the increase of chain stores along St. Catherine and the disappearance of the Complexe Desjardins, the shopping mall-hotel complex across from the Place des Arts there is something reassuring in seeing that while Famous Players may have opened up one of their megaplexes on St. Catherine, it’s directly across from a strip club.
6. On the one hand, no press screenings during the festival. On the other, I’ve managed tickets to everything I’ve wanted.
5. Festival not dominated by publicity machinery there is no hotel loaded with publicists sending one video screeners and demanding that one interview the director of a Spanish film that you didn’t like in the first place. Or maybe there is, and they don’t know that I’m here.
4. Can’t find a Starbucks anywhere in the neighbourhood.
3. This is the single most relaxed Festival I’ve been to since the Atlantic Film Festival in 1984. Sure there’s hot tickets, but one doesn’t seem to see the sort of frenzy one sees in the big festivals. Of course, there’s also a shortage of annoying offsite media (and, yes, I’m aware of the inherent irony in me making that statement.). Whether public or industry-oriented, there seems to be a certain point of growth where the gigantism of the event takes over from the actual films. This festival is just about the right size enough films and screenings that people who wish to attend can, but not so many films that it becomes THE event in town
2. No galas. No competitions. Just movies. It doesn’t matter, really, if they’ve been at other festivals. After all, if one has not seen something, it’s a new movie.
1. Festival headquarters a leisurely stroll from Schwarz’s Deli