(Left image provided by the NFB. Right image: Juancito Jean, photo by Adriana García Cruz)
October 15, 2018 – Montreal – National Film Board of Canada
Opening the Montreal International Documentary Festival (RIDM) on November 8 at 7 p.m., Toronto filmmaker Christy Garland’s award-winning 90-minute documentary What Walaa Wants (Murmur Media/National Film Board of Canada/Final Cut for Real) is making its Quebec premiere at the SGWU Alumni Auditorium (H-110) in Concordia University’s Henry F. Hall building, 1455 de Maisonneuve W., with the filmmaker in attendance.
Presented in the original Arabic with French subtitles, What Walaa Wants is also an official selection in the Canadian feature competition, with an additional screening during the festival’s first week. What Walaa Wants will open in theatres in winter 2019.
Screening before What Walaa Wants is Juancito Jean’s short film Printemps Now, making its world premiere. Directed by Jean during his 2018 Regard sur Montreal Filmmaker-in-Residency, Printemps Now is a portrait of the city from the perspective of a newcomer adapting to life in their adoptive country, inspired by classic “city symphony” films. The 2018 Regard sur Montreal Filmmaker-in-Residency was made possible by the Conseil des arts de Montréal (CAM), Société de développement des entreprises culturelles (SODEC), the NFB through its ACIC – Independent Filmmaker Assistance Program, and Les Films de l’Autre.
The rest of the NFB lineup at RIDM 2018 will be announced on October 17.
What Walaa Wants
Raised in a West Bank refugee camp while her mother was in prison, Walaa is determined to become a policewoman in the Palestinian Security Forces—not easy for a girl who breaks all the rules. Following Walaa from the age of 15 to 21, What Walaa Wants uses an intimate POV to tell the compelling story of this defiant young girl, who navigates formidable obstacles and disproves the negative predictions from her surroundings and the world at large.
What Walaa Wants had its world premiere at the Berlin International Film Festival and its Canadian premiere at Hot Docs, where it received the DGC Special Jury Prize for Canadian Feature Documentary. Point of View magazine’s Amy Siegel wrote: “In a world that continues to dehumanize and victimize Palestinian people, reducing lives to numbers without names or stories, it is refreshing to see a film that portrays such a proud, resilient, young Palestinian woman. You will remember Walaa.” Adrian Mack of Vancouver’s Georgia Straight wrote that “…Christy Garland’s camera gets remarkably close to this lively if damaged family, where domesticity, cheerful or otherwise, is always underlined by fear and a permanent sense of assault. It’s a high-resolution picture of occupation as destiny… What lies ahead is gutting to watch.”
Garland’s films deliver strong dramatic development, poignant character transformation, and universally felt themes. Her first feature-length documentary, The Bastard Sings the Sweetest Song (2012, Hot Docs, Sheffield), garnered rave reviews during its theatrical release, with The Globe and Mail describing it as “echoing the work of Bresson and the Dardennes.” VICE magazine called her film Cheer Up (2016, Hot Docs, DOC NYC) “a biting portrait of young womanhood.”
What Walaa Wants is produced by Matt Code and Christy Garland (Murmur Media; Canada), Anne Köhncke (Final Cut for Real; Denmark) and Justine Pimlott (NFB; Canada). The NFB executive producer is Anita Lee. Matt Code produced Mary Goes Round and executive-produced Cardinals, both in 2017. Anne Köhncke’s previous credits include producer on The Act of Killing (2012) and Pervert Park (2014) and associate producer on The Look of Silence (2014).
Trained at Cuba’s Escuela Internacional de Cine y TV (International Film and Television School), Juancito Jean is a Haitian-born filmmaker whose credits include three documentaries, notably Si Bondye vle, Yuli (God Willing, Yuli), released in 2015.
Inspired by such avant-garde classics as Berlin: Symphony of a Great City (Walter Ruttman, 1928) and Rain (Joris Ivens, 1929), Printemps Now explores the passage of time in the transition from winter to spring, giving the city new meaning that’s based on the perspective of an outsider. Using images of Montreal, its day-to-day rhythms and its inhabitants, this film joins the city symphony documentary genre, which employs experimental or poetic techniques to capture the daily life of a city. Printemps Now is produced by Juancito Jean/Les Films de l’Autre.
Electronic Press Kit | Images, videos, information: What Walaa Wants
Montreal International Documentary Festival
Final Cut for Real
Concordia University’s Henry F. Hall building
2018 Regard sur Montreal Filmmaker-in-Residency
Conseil des arts de Montréal
Société de développement des entreprises culturelles
ACIC – Independent Filmmaker Assistance Program
Les Films de l’Autre