Cinéfranco, for its 19th year, focuses on identity in crisis and the human rights. The films in its 2016 selection mirror what shapes and influences our identity like the customs and traditions we were raised with, our work, our politics, our sexuality, our race, etc. Among the 13 Francophone feature films and 2 short films, the Canadian program gives us matter to think about First Nations, immigration and its challenges. It also takes us back into a Quebec legend that helps us find landmarks between past and present. The two short films Le Déni/Denial by Claudia Hébert and Rencontre by Brennan Martin bring freshness and originality to moments of individuals’ lives. Claudia Hébert’s chilling film is paced by the obsessive phone calls a young woman makes to the mysterious Mathieu. Brennan Martin’s short film showcases the encounter of a young French tourist in his journey to North America with a strange young woman.
“I wanted to raise ethical questions while leaving room for reflection, to tell a human story where people are motivated by desire.”(Chloé Leriche, Director, Montreal Gazette) In her first fiction feature film, Avant les rues/ Before the Streets, the filmmaker subtly braids into the plot the distress of a disaffected Atikamekw youth plagued by unemployment and despair. The non-professional actors are convincing, sincere and intense in front of a camera that takes its time to observe an indigenous community (the Atikamekw) find its lost way to its ancestral beliefs and traditions.
In Montreal la blanche/Montreal, White City, a taxi driver and his passenger, both Algerian immigrants, try to find the right path back to their true identity. Caught between Ramadan and Christmas Eve, Amokrane drives Kahina through Montreal covered with snowflakes that symbolizes the inner layer of whiteness of the city referring to racism. Flashbacks of their past remind them of their disconnect with the new society they landed into. Bachir Bensaddek wrote the play that he adapted into a film he beautifully directed. Actors Rabat Aït Ouyahia and Karina Aktouf are authentic in their portrayals of immigrants having to face realities they fled. Montreal becomes a fascinating character through its contrasts (inside the taxi versus the outside) and its rich nuances.
On Halloween night, Cinéfranco presents a free screening of Chasse Galerie: La Légende/Run Wild: The Legend takes us into another dimension and journey that sway between reality and fantasy genre. All the captivating ingredients of a suspenseful, picturesque film are present: passionate love, pact with the devil, betrayal, despair, the unyielding cruelty of Quebec nature in the winter. Jean-Philippe Duval manages to keep the integrity of this Quebec folklore legend to give it a modern tone. It will send shivers down your spine!!!
The films I selected for this year’s Cinéfranco have touched my heart, challenged my values and truly inspired me to know more about a slew of topics to embark into a discovery journey.
Go to www.cinefranco.com to read more about all the films. For film trailers, here’s a good site http://francecanadaculture.org/en/film-tv-and-new-media/events/toronto-cinefranco-2016
Marcelle Lean – Founder, Artistic & Executive Director