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A Strictly Canadian Affair at MoMA

Photo of Nigel M Smith By Nigel M Smith | Indiewire March 18, 2010 at 2:25AM

MoMA's 7th annual Canadian Front Film Exhibition kicked off to a raucous start last night, with the New York premiere of the Quebecois sensation "Fathers and Guns."
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MoMA's 7th annual Canadian Front Film Exhibition kicked off to a raucous start last night, with the New York premiere of the Quebecois sensation "Fathers and Guns."

Directed and written by Emile Gaudreault, the Montreal based cop comedy became a box office juggernaut in Quebec last summer, outgrossing "Bon Cop, Bad Cop" (another crime caper), to become Canada's most successful French-language film. Hollywood took notice, and Sony Pictures quickly snatched the remake rights, with producers Kathleen Kennedy and Frank Marshal attached. Despite the whip-fast Quebecois humor, the film played well to MoMA's audience, earning big laughs throughout.

The screening was followed by a reception at Aquavit, hosted by Telefilm Canada and the Government of Canada. Despite the green beer lining the bars nearby in celebration of St. Patrick's Day, the party retained a strictly Canadian flavor, with the bar dolling out Niagara based wine all evening.

The rest of the exhibition, which runs until March 22, features seven more films all making their New York premieres. Another Canadian comedy, Rob Stefaniuk's vampire musical "Suck" made news when it screened at last year's Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). A bloody genre mashup, the film is destined for cult status, with rock legends Iggy Pop and Alice Cooper starring alongside acting vet Malcom McDowell.

Another hit from last year's TIFF, the documentary "Hugh Hefner: Playboy, Activist and Rebel" also makes its New York premiere at MoMA. Directed by Academy Award winner Brigitte Berman, the film paints a portrait of Hefner as a catalyst for positive change - something the public is not accustomed to seeing following the Bunny reality shows made popular of late.

Below is a list of the other films screening with descriptions provided by MoMA:

"Crackie," written and directed by Sherry White.
Mitsy, a teenager enduring a hardscrabble adolescence with her grandmother, discovers a dog she wants to love; contemplates sex with a local boy; and, despite her grandmother’s wish never to see her own daughter again, hopes her estranged mother will return to Newfoundland. Be careful what you wish for. White’s debut film sensitively illuminates the confusion of youth and the dramatic collision of three generations of women.

"La donation" ("The Legacy"), written and directed by Bernard Émond.
Émond, a Canadian Front veteran, set his moving new work in a Quebec town whose primary source of employment disappeared a generation ago. When an aging country doctor who cares deeply about his patients needs to leave his post temporarily, he advertises for a substitute caregiver. A woman from the city, frustrated by life in a busy emergency ward, answers his call. This quietly beautiful film chronicles how a newcomer becomes deeply involved in the lives—and deaths of a community.

"Polytechnique," directed by Denis Villeneuve.
In 1989, a decade before Columbine, the unthinkable happened in Montreal: a twenty-five- year-old gunman, who claimed “feminists” had destroyed his life, entered the École Polytechnique with a rifle and killed fourteen female students. This compellingly dispassionate black-and-white film, Villeneuve’s third, serves as a memorial of sorts for the victims, and describes what followed for the survivors. The film was named Best Canadian Film of 2009 by the Torotno Film Critics.

"Petropolis: Aerial Perspectives on the Alberta Tar Sands," directed by Peter Mettler.
"Located beneath 4.3 million hectares of boreal forest in Alberta, Canada, the tar sands are a mixture of sand, clay, and a heavy crude oil called bitumen that is either mined in open pits or extracted from underground by injecting superheated water" (Petropolis-film.com). Mettler, one of Canada’s leading media artists, aerially filmed a mining area the size of England, and his images speak far louder than words. Made for Greenpeace Canada.

"ONLY," written and directed by Ingrid Veninger, Simon Reynolds.
"ONLY" is a modest, luminous jewel of a film. Made on a ridiculously low budget and starring family and friends, the film follows a sweet, openhearted relationship that develops between two lonely tweens in a backwater Ontario town. The filmmakers are both actors, and Veninger co-wrote the script to Nurse. Fighter.Boy., which was featured in last year’s
Canadian Front.

"Who Has Seen the Wind," directed by Allan King.
“A sweet, generous reverie of a movie about growing up on the prairies of Saskatchewan during the Depression. It touches on all of the topics obligatory in small-town fiction, including life, death, hypocrisy, bigotry, all as they are observed by one little boy....[The film has] the effect of an unretouched memoir” (Vincent Canby, The New York Times).