The francophone film festival will be held entirely online and available across Canada
Against all odds, this year’s edition of Cinémania is set to begin with great optimism. From Nov. 4 to 22, Canada’s largest film festival dedicated to francophone cinema is presenting its most ambitious programming to date — entirely online — proudly adding new features such as a short film program and homemade documentaries.
“We were simply ready,” said Guilhem Caillard, the festival’s managing director, about having to face social distancing measures in the second wave of the pandemic. “The most important aspect is that our public has access to our films, and honestly, in terms of programming, this year is the richest of the 25-year history of the festival.”
Along with other institutions in the film and performing arts industries, Cinémania was put under tremendous stress recently. Until last week, they hadn’t been able to confirm whether they would be able to show their films in theatres. When the provincial government announced that red zone restrictions would remain in effect until Nov. 23, the festival already had an online platform ready to go — one they had been working on since last April.
In total, only eight films (out of 130) could not be moved online as their distributors didn’t allow it, but Caillard has promised that when it’s permitted, these films will come to theatres in Montreal.
Among those removed from the festival was the opening film, Aline. Directed by and starring renowned French actress Valérie Lemercier, Aline is a fictional film heavily inspired by the life of Céline Dion. The most anticipated feature of the festival, its release on both sides of the Atlantic has been postponed to an unknown later date.
Cinémania is now bigger than ever, adding short films and homemade documentaries this year.
“Opening to short films allows the festival to open up even more to emerging filmmakers, to diversity, and to more francophone countries,” said Anne de Marchis, the director of marketing and communications at Cinémania.
This year the festival adds short films to its programming for the first time ever, including more than 30 films encompassing many different genres. Most of them are from Québec, as Cinémania will also present films that were set to be shown at Regard, a short film festival in Saguenay, which was cancelled on its first day, in March, due to social distancing measures.
Another addition this year are two documentaries produced by the festival itself: a short documentary about Louis Bélanger, this year’s festival’s guest of honour, directed by Kalina Bertin (Manic, 2017), and another by Gauthier Aboudaram on the film La nuit des rois, Ivory Coast’s 2020 Oscar submission, which is also featured at the festival.
A diverse programming to discover francophone cultures worldwide.
Once again, Cinémania proves to be an eloquent testament to francophone cinema’s diversity; encompassing many genres, approaches, and themes.
“This year we observed a strong presence of Quebecois cinema, stronger than ever at the festival,” said Caillard. A good example that might interest Concordians, according to Caillard, is Maryanne Zéhil’s La face cachée du baklava, a comedy about how Lebanese people are perceived in Quebec. Also, for every ticket sold, a dollar will be donated to the Canadian Red Cross for reconstruction in Beirut.
L’État Sauvage, a feminist western and a France-Quebec coproduction, is another of Caillard’s favorites this year, “which brings out the western side of the Quebec landscapes,” he said, and depicts a French family in the midst of the American civil war.
Caillard also noted that many of his films this year — more than ever — centre around LGBTQ+ issues, allowing his audience to discover how they can be seen and portrayed around the world. Among those are A good man by Marie-Castille Mention-Schaar, which tells the unconventional story of a transgender man’s pregnancy, or Deux, by Filippo Meneghetti about the beautiful lesbian love story of octogenarians.
Cinémania also presents itself as a good opportunity to see some high-profile directors’ work, including films that were part of the official competition at Cannes this year, and new anticipated features such as François Ozon’s Été 85, or Cédric Klapisch’s latest, Deux moi.
The entire programming is available here. It costs $8 per individual film, or $65 for the entire online selection.
Photos courtesy of Cinémania.