RIDM proves that reality is often more hard-hitting, heart-wrenching and/or hilarious than fiction…

First, I should mention some of the events associated with the fest. There are the Master Classes, the Panel Discussions and some hard-to-categorize neat stuff, but, not surprisingly, what caught my eye was the parties. There’s a Rolling Stones night to accompany the screening of the great doc about the band, Stones in Exile, the totally perfect combo of Pastis and pétanque plus what might be the party of the fest, a Friday Night Cumbia jam devoted to the hip-swiveling music from Latin America. But, for now, back to the docs…

Les Fros: The fest opens on a perfectly Quebecois subject: the lumberjack. This NFB documentary explores the bucherons from Romania, Albania, Russia and Mali who join their French counterparts in working Quebec’s northern forests.

Armadillo: Perhaps the fest’s most buzzed-about and controversial film, this incredible behind-the-lines doc profiles a Danish army camp entrenched in the battle in Afghanistan. A rare look at the reality of a war that most of us only read about.

Space Tourists: The decline of the Soviet space program has seen new life thanks to people, like billionaire Anousheh Ansari, who pay millions of dollars to head up into the great unknown. As you might expect, some truly incredible footage plays a central role in this unique doc.

Cool It: This documentary follows the attempts of controversial environmentalist Bjørn Lomborg to ask his own (often unpopular) questions about some of  the “inconvenient truths” and inefficient, alarmist tactics employed by Al Gore’s massively successful doc.

Kings of Pastry: This amuse-bouche for the eyes follows three French pasty chefs in their attempt to win France’s prestigious pastry competition. One critic cheekily called it the “culinary Hurt Locker”.

The People vs. George Lucas: You can probably imagine that the Star Wars movies have an incredible fanatical fan base. But honestly, you have no idea…

Waste Land: The fest’s final documentary profiles Brazilian artist Vik Muniz and his attempt to make art with and about the garbage collectors who work the world’s largest landfill in Rio de Janeiro. The sort of doc that will give you chills just by watching the trailer, for me it symbolizes what’s best about the art form: by focusing in on the micro, we end up taking away invaluable lessons about the macro.

Brendan Murphy, The Montreal Buzz