Entering it’s 15th year, this year’s CineFranco film festival continues its mandate of bringing many lesser known titles in French language cinema to audiences in English speaking Canada. The Toronto based festival – which kicks off this Friday, March 23rd and goes on until Sunday, April 1st at the TIFF Bell Lightbox – showcases over 25 feature films and documentaies and two shorts packages to bring these films not only to a place where they might not see release under normal circumstances, but to also bring these films to students of the French language and to the city’s own Francophone population. Even if you don’t speak a word of French, don’t fret. Everything is (obviously) subtitled in English.
The festival opens with a screening of La Sacree (March 23rd, 7pm), the story of an impotent con artist who buys a defunct brewery to help restore his virility, his relationship, and his bank account. Following that at 9:15 on opening night is director Sophie Desmarais’ Trash (Decharge), a drama about a former junkie and garbage man trying to save the life of a young woman he sees making the same mistakes he once did. Both films will feature their respective directors on hand.
Many other films throughout the week will also have special guests in attendance, including a pair of notable documentaries. Director Annabel Loyola will be on hand to talk about La Folle Enterprise (March 29th, 6:30pm), a documentary about Jeanne Mance, the often overlooked female co-founder of Montreal. Later that same evening at 9pm, director Stéphane Goël introduces Prud’hommes, an inside look at the famed Swiss court which has previously never allowed cameras into their chambers.
On the narrative side of things, director Marc Bisaillon and members of his cast will join him for the English Canada premiere for La Verite (March 30th, 6pm), a true life story of teenagers who accidentally cause a person’s death while vandalizing a house.
The festival’s short’s programmes can be seen over the weekend on March 24th and 25th at 11am and feature films about a wide range of topics from alcoholism (Patsy, screening Saturday) and commentary on our ADD viewing habits (Apersona, Saturday) to immigration (Courts metranges and Mandala My Love, both Sunday) and our relationship to first person shooter video games (Mauser, Sunday). Consider these shorts as a French buffet-styled brunch this weekend.
The festival closes on April 1st with two films that couldn’t be any more different. The North American premiere of Les Tuche is a broad comedy about a quirky family who moves from their poor shanty town to Monaco after winning the lottery. At 6:30pm with a screening of Philippe Lioret’s Toutes nos envies, a social drama about a pair of judges struggling with monetary and emotional debts that threaten to destroy their personal and professional relationship.