Film festival at Congress to bring Montreal to the screen  

There will be a whole new side to the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences this year.

De Sève Cinema. Magnifying glass

De Sève Cinema.

Congress organizers, faculty and staff from across the university are planning a series of exciting events, shows and exhibitions called Branché: The Concordia Connection to bring a new dimension to the annual conference.

The Montreal Onscreen/Montréal à l’écran film festival is one such event. Running May 29 to June 3 at De Sève Cinema, Concordia Research Chair and Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema professor Thomas Waugh and MA Film Studies student Marcin Wisniewski have created a program of 12 films (produced between 1934 and 2008) reflecting the history and cultural richness of Montreal.

Looking forward to the festival, the Journal caught up with Waugh.

What prompted you to create such a festival?

We’d been anticipating the Congress for some time, and it was felt about a year ago that we needed to welcome all Congress participants with a celebration of our local cinematic heritage. Montreal used to be the cinematic capital of Canada, and some would argue it still is. We wanted a diversity of films, representing the different periods, formats, styles and seasons of our city, from wry and sexy postmodern comedy to a 60s version of this year’s Vancouver anti-Olympics resistance videos (Little Burgundy, made in 1968, to protest against the mowing down of vital neighbourhoods in the Expo 67 development frenzy). We wanted the majority French-language cinema to have pride of place, of course, but with the heritage of anglophone and allophone cinema well represented.

Did you encounter any opposition to any potentially contentious films being screened? In particular, Discordia?

None whatsoever. We’re delighted to be able to use this film to celebrate how the Hall Building has been a kind of minor epicentre for Montreal’s turbulent political subcultures for over forty years. The Montreal tradition of documentary has always raised a challenge to political complacency and intellectual smugness, and we thought this lively film fit right into the tradition. It has been shown on campus many times of course, but we want the Congress delegates and the newer generations of students to have this important history.

You’ve been in contact with directors to speak about their films at screenings. Anyone we may know?

It’s too early to be confirmed, but Denys Arcand, Michel Brault, Léa Pool and Michel Tremblay are among the stars we hope to snag. There are a couple of Concordia alumni and profs we’re also counting on, such as prize-winning video artist Nelson Henricks.

What do you hope the festival will accomplish?

We want to distract Congress goers and remind them that they’re visiting a community with a rich cultural heritage and urban environment. And, I guess as a byproduct, show off the liveliest cinema school in Canada.

Congress runs from May 28 to June 4. Visit the new Branché: The Concordia Connection section of the Congress at Concordia website for info on all event programming.


Concordia University