While a table for two in a tiny French restaurant might seem ideal this Valentine’s Day, a brand new Montreal film fest is serving up a viable date night alternative to the romantic stereotype.
The first ever International Romantic Film Festival in Montreal will allow viewers to catch a glimpse of love from different points of view and from different time periods, but don’t expect to see the latest blockbuster or painfully cheesy film. This festival offers the rare opportunity to see independent love stories from the United States, Canada, Ireland, and France such as New York, I Love You, Love and Savagery and Ugly Melanie, with lead actress Marilou Berry attending opening night. The festival will also be showing an animated romance, Sita Sings the Blues, which combines an Indian myth and a contemporary story from San Francisco, set to the 1920s jazz vocals of Annette Hanshaw. The festival also features some classics, with screenings of two blockbusters from their eras: Casablanca (1942) and Love Story (1970).
“It’s an opportunity for people to see films from outside the mainly commercial stream,” says festival president Evangelia Ozek. With 13 years of experience in the film and TV industry, Ozek says the festival is one of a kind. She says the movies chosen are all rare gems that people will “love and cherish no matter what age.” Not all the movies deal with love in typical Hollywood fashion. There are movies about the love of a city (New York, I Love You), the love of music (Guy and Madeline on a Park Bench), and love simply as a state of being (Ugly Melanie). Ozek says that many of the films are about “living your life in a romantic kind of way,” including the French comedy Ugly Melanie, the festival’s opening film. “Each film deals with romance and relationships in different ways: finding love, losing love, knowing what love is,” she said.
The festival also has the added allure of Valentine’s Day prizes. Moviegoers will have a chance to win gift certificates to Spa Le Scandinave, that will be hidden under random seats at the theatre. The closing night of the festival is at La Kloche restaurant in Old Montreal, where festival-goers will get a free glass of wine with their ticket stub.
“The goal is to have this be an annual event,” Ozek said of the new venture. Above all, Ozek says she just hopes people will come out and enjoy themselves, and that the movies will inspire them to be “in touch with romance.” After all, what better way to enjoy Valentine’s Day than with a good story about the happiest feeling of all, love?