'Congorama,' 'Volver' tapped for Nouveau fest


MONTREAL -- Montreal's Festival du Nouveau Cinema announced its full lineup Tuesday, with Philippe Falardeau's "Congorama" set to kick off the festival's milestone 35th edition on Oct. 18. Pedro Almodovar's "Volver" will close the festival Oct. 26.

With a focus on innovation and new media, FNC director Claude Chamberlain unveiled 189 films from 39 countries -- comprising 111 features and 78 shorts -- that run from the somber to the surreal. Included are such dramas as "12:08 East of Bucharest," by Romania's Corneliu Porumboiu, and South Korean filmmaker Chang-ho Cho's "The Peter Pan Formula."

One sidebar will focus on genre groundbreakers like "Tachigui: The Amazing Lives of the Fast-Food Grifters," a film with photo-scan animation from Japan's Mamoru Oshii, and director Satoshi Kon's "Paprika," an animated feature that uses more conventional filmmaking techniques.

The Open Source new-media section will showcase the latest films from France's Alex Chan, whose specialty is the hybrid computer-film genre, and Canadian filmmakers Dennis Villeneuve and Guy Maddin, who were asked to create short films specifically for the festival.

The Open Source section also invited about 40 participants from China this year. "There's a huge explosion," festival programmer Phillippe Gajan said of Chinese cinema. "They're really interested in seeing other (new media) content, and in showing their own content."

Gajan said the new-media program reflects changes in the industry worldwide, with so-called Web 2.0 programming like YouTube and MySpace creating instant, widely accessible and freely distributed product.

"You can be a star in two days," Gajan said, adding that the notion of "premiering" movies was becoming obsolete as Web 2.0 filmmakers increasingly present their work instantly to a mass, anonymous audience of cell-phone and Internet users.

In that vein, the festival said it is placing less emphasis on world premieres than on bringing innovative content together for industry and audience consumption.

"What you don't have on the Net is the possibility of exchange, a physical place to meet each other and exchange ideas" Gajan said. The biggest industry question at the moment, Gajan said, is which console will win the battle for the living room -- the cell phone, the television, the computer screen or the video-game player?

Canada's National Film Board will honor one of its own pioneer innovators, master short-filmmaker Norman McLaren, with a retrospective and animation workshop. Spanish filmmaker Carlos Saura also will be honored with a retrospective.

The Montreal event also is showcasing North America's first complete retrospective of French iconoclast Guy Debord's experimental films.
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