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Schlomo Schwartzberg

In comparison to Toronto, Montreal’s Festival des films du Monde doesn’t seem to take Canadian films as seriously. Whereas Toronto always makes a point of opening its festival with a Canadian film, or as with this year’s opener David Cronenberg’s M. Butterfly, one directed by a Canadian, 1993 marked the first year that Montreal was actually launched by a Canadian feature, Paule Baillargeon’s sensitive but choppy Le sexe des etoiles. [See Page 28.]

Also, unlike Toronto, Montreal’s Canadian films are scattered throughout the festival’s different sections, thereby diluting their impact and presence. Its Panorama Canada contained only nine features while Toronto’s Perspective Canada had twice that many films. Interestingly enough there was little crossover between the two festivals.

Only four features, The Lotus Eaters, Le sexe des etoiles, John Hamilton’s The Myth of the Male Orgasm and Darrell Wasyk’s Mustard Bath showed in both Montreal and Toronto.

That was partly because some Toronto filmmakers, David Wellington and Gerard Ciccoritti, wanted their films to open at home and partly because others, such as Denys Arcand, thought Toronto a better event in which to premiere their films.

Vancouver, whose International Film Festival takes p Montreal and Toronto, prefers to take the cream of the crop of its competitiors, while emphasizing West Coast film, which is somewhat slighted in the east. The 12th annual Vancouver festival, (September 30 – October 17), scheduled 16 Canadian films, eight of which are from the West: The Lotus Eaters, Digger, Blockade, The Burning Season, Cadillac Girls, Ley Lines, The Perfect Man and Two Brothers, A Girl and A Gun. The world premiere of Digger, which stars Olympia Dukakis, Leslie Nielsen and Timothy Bottoms, opened the Vancouver festival.

Invariably, some filmmakers felt slighted when their films didn’t make it to Toronto and two of them, Greg Klymkiw and Stacey Donen were quite vocal about not getting into their local Klymkiw, executive producer of Jack of Hearts, “a Christian horror film”, directed by his wife Cynthia Roberts, wrote an angry letter to Perspective Canada co-ordinator (and Now Magazine film critic) Cameron Bailey decrying the rejection of his B movie as a case of “political correctness” and “cowardice”, charges denied by Bailey.” Donen, producer of David Marcoux’s Lilly, a low budget black and white drama, didn’t go as far as Klymkiw but did label the Toronto festival “elitist”.

Lilly, which cost a mere $18,000 to shoot, is the type of ambitious intelligent film that could have found a place in Toronto. It’s the story of a young inexperienced Asian woman Lilly (Shelly Hong) who works in her family laundromat. When a drifter is found dead in a park, causes unknown, Lilly claims his body on the grounds that she was his lover. But when he is determined to have been murdered, she becomes a suspect, triggering events that will change her forever. Lilly has its weaknesses, notably bad supporting acting and some pretentious dialogue, but Marcoux has a good eye for composition and structure. Helped along by composer R. Murray Schafer’s evocative score and Joseph Micomonaco’s crisp cinematography, Lilly marks Marcoux as a talent to watch. It’s a debut comparable to Atom Egoyan’s Next of Kin, which means his following effort may find a place in Toronto. Let’s hope so.

COPYRIGHT 1993 Performing Arts and Entertainment in Canada

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