The RIDM marks a quarter century!

November 18, 2022

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The Montreal International Documentary Festival, one of North America’s largest events of its kind, is celebrating its 25th anniversary! Since its inception in 1998, the festival has grown increasingly prominent on the international scene and built a fiercely loyal audience. To celebrate the milestone, the RIDM will show more than 150 Canadian and international documentaries, accompanied by some special activities, until November 27. Get your tickets now, as sessions are filling up fast!

We spoke with the RIDM’s executive director, Marc Gauthier, who gave us an idea of what to expect from this year’s line-up and festivities.

What sets the RIDM apart from other film festivals?

Not only are we a specialized film festival that presents the world’s best documentaries each year, we’re also a documentary market thanks to Forum RIDM, which will take place from November 19 to 23. Another thing that distinguishes the RIDM is that its founders decided fairly early on to focus on auteur documentaries. That’s why, even if Hot Docs in Toronto has a bigger audience, the RIDM is always a prime showcase for local and foreign artists and an essential event for cinephiles.

What do you have planned for the anniversary?

We decided to use this anniversary as an opportunity to reconnect with the past. We see it as an opportunity to reach out to the founders and builders. With Doc-to-doc, we lay the foundations for an intergenerational dialogue by inviting local filmmakers who are presenting a film this year to select a film that influenced their creative process. The free screenings, from November 21 to 25 at the Cinémathèque, will be followed by discussions with the filmmakers. On November 25, at festival headquarters – the Norman McLaren room at the Cinémathèque – we’ll host a party celebrating the festival’s first quarter century. It's going to be great! Finally, Brazil is this year’s featured country, with some special programming. The Brazilian Party on November 19 will include plenty of great danceable music from that country.

How is documentary cinema doing?

That question has two answers. In artistic and social terms, documentary is doing very well. It has a more diverse set of voices than ever, and today’s documentaries are pushing the creative envelope. There are now hybrid forms that meld fiction and documentary. So it’s a highly vital and relevant cinematic genre. On the other hand, the financial situation is far from ideal, and unfortunately it’s getting more and more complicated to finance a documentary production.

What are the challenges you face as the RIDM’s director?

The main challenge is, as always, uncertainty. We know that our audience is with us, but the pandemic has led to changes in their habits. In general, people are going out less often than they used to, and the RIDM is a niche festival. So even though our audience is dedicated, their buying habits have changed. Now people wait until the day of the screening, or even the last minute, to buy their tickets. Last year’s hybrid festival allowed us to take advantage of the phenomenon. We surprisingly good results by the end, but during the festival we were concerned about weak advance sales.

Do you have some films to recommend?

There are no bad choices! But I was particularly struck by L'Histoire jugera by German Guttierez, screening on November 25 at the Cinémathèque québécoise. We showed a rough-cut last year, and the final version is heartbreaking. The film was made in Columbia over a four-year span. It starts with the signing of the peace treaty that finally ended 52 years of civil war, and follows the social reintegration of guerrillas who are trying to return to normal life despite their fears and doubts.

One more recommendation?

For the first time, we’re selling tickets for closing night. Festivalgoers will be able to see Heather Hatch’s documentary Wochiigii Lo: End of the Peace on November 26 at the Impérial or on November 27 at the Cinémathèque. Above all, my advice to anyone who wants to make the most of the festival is to go spend some time at the Cinémathèque, which is truly the heart of the RIDM. There are free activities there every day. A final tip: buy your tickets in advance, because some of the screenings sell out fast!

Rencontres internationales du documentaire de Montréal (RIDM)
From November 17 to 27, 2022