The Montreal outdoor film festival returns this summer with seven screenings

By Paula Liu, The Epoch Times
People who stop by can enjoy the screenings of documentaries during the RIDM en plein air film festival event. (RIDM photo)

Montreal’s outdoor documentary festival is back again this year, featuring documentaries that can be enjoyed for free in parks and other public spaces.

The Montreal International Documentary Festival’s (RIDM) “en plein air” festival started on June 15, postponed from the previous day due to rain, and will run until Aug. 28.

The idea behind the festival is to get people more engaged with the documentaries, especially ahead of the RIDM’s main event which is held in November each year.

People all over have come to enjoy the screenings during the event. (RIDM photo)

Mara Gourd-Mercado, RIDM’s executive director, says people can come and go from the outdoor screenings as they like. There are no set rules or seating arrangements, and because it’s outdoors, people are free to bring anything they wish to ensure maximum enjoyment for themselves, such as chairs, blankets, or picnics.

“I think that documentary films in particular have this power that other films might not have, which is to really build bridges between human beings,” she says.

In order to ensure the success of the festival, RIDM makes sure to plan ahead, and have a second screening date planned in the event of rain or unfavourable weather conditions.

“We work with partners who deal with the logistics and they usually prepare for these situations,” says Gourd-Mercado.

The organization doesn’t produce its own films, but accepts submissions from the general public.

“We have a programming team that reviews the film and that chooses 140 films for the festival,” says Gourd-Mercado. “It’s a way to get documentary films out there, so they wouldn’t get drowned [by] festivals that present any kinds of films.”

“We do have very good films every year, our programming is recognized worldwide,” she adds.

The seven documentaries that will be featured are “State Giant” by James Moll; “State of Expectation” by Jason O’Hara; “No Intenso Agora” (“In The Intense Now”) by João Moreira Salles; “Birth of a Family” by Tasha Hubbard; “Espirit De Cantine” by Nicolas Paquet; “Speak Up / Make Your Way” by Amandine Gay; and “Taste of Cement” by Ziad Kalthoum.

RIDM was initiated in 1998 by local filmmakers who wanted to establish an accessible platform for documentaries. Through reaching out to other local and international documentary filmmakers, they created a platform as a way to build the community. As it grew, it evolved into a full-fledged festival, sharing documentaries made by people all over the world.

In addition to the outdoor festival and the main event in November, they also put on screenings in prisons, schools, universities, and other locations.

“RIDM has always kept the vision which was to give a platform to documentary films to be seen by as many people as possible,” says Gourd-Mercado.

“It was the philosophy—and is still is today—that documentary plays a big part in building a society.”