FRENCH CANADIAN CINEMA: HOW FRENCH? HOW CANADIAN?
Roundtable discussion with filmmaker Louis Bélanger and producer Réal Chabot
Come listen to Louis Bélanger and Réal Chabot speak about their own films and the current trends in Quebecois cinema on Sunday, February 29th
Writer/director Louis Bélanger co-directed his first short film while studying communications at the University of Quebec in Montréal. He has been writing and directing shorts, documentaries and features with La Coop Vidéo de Montréal for over 15 years. He directed his first feature, Post Mortem, in 1999 which was critically acclaimed and won many awards including Best Film at Quebec’s Jutra awards. His second feature, Gaz Bar Blues, opened the Montréal International Film Festival in 2003 and won the Special Jury Prize
Producer Réal Chabot worked in film and television for over 10 years before joining La Coop Vidéo de Montréal, the film and video production cooperative founded in 1977 by Robert Morin and seven others. With the Coop he has produced films by some of Quebec’s most exciting directors including Louis Bélanger (Post Mortem, Gaz Bar Blues), Catherine Martin (Mariages - shown at last year’s fest), Robert Morin (Le Nég) and Bernard Émond.
GAZ BAR BLUES
directed by Louis Bélanger
cast Serge Thériault, Gilles Renaud, Sébastien Delorme, Danny Gilmore
Canada | 2003 | 115 min.
A well-written story about Mr. Brochu (aka “the Boss”) who runs a full service gas station in Quebec City with the help of his three sons in 1989. In this autobiographical ensemble film featuring the Boss’s sons, employees, thieves, hangers-on and the like, Bélanger gently weaves end-of-an-era reluctance with coming-of-age excitement striking a perfect balance between the comic and dramatic. Note that one can spot the old National Hockey League logo for the Quebec Nordiques!
directed by Louis Bélanger
cast Gabriel Arcand, Sylvie Moreau, Héléne Loiselle, Sarah Leconte-Bergeron
Canada | 1999 | 92 min.
A narrative in three parts in which a mother who supports her child with a credit card scam and an accused rapist meet and form a unique bond. An assured directorial debut marked by solid acting performances. Note that the subject of necrophilia worms its way into the narrative.
AKERMAN ON AKERMAN
directed by Chantal Akerman
France/Belgium | 1996 | 63 min.
Chantal Akerman, a key director and artist for the past thirty years, turns the camera on herself so as to set forth themes and issues surrounding her work. Characteristically, Akerman’s approach is post-modern. A film that provides a solid introduction to those not familiar with Akerman’s work, yet a film that provokes seasoned Akermanians. One can now understand the relationship between cinema and cows! Please note that a newer Akerman film is showing in the Festival.
THE FLOWER OF EVIL
La fleur du mal
directed by Claude Chabrol
cast Nathalie Baye, Benoit Magimel, Suzanne Flon, Melanie Doutey
France | 2003 | 104 min.
For a second year running Festival go-ers can see old reliable/one-film-per-year Chabrol as he yet again delivers a critique of the wealthy French. In this variation, a past scandal along with current tensions surface as one of three generations of a wealthy Bordeaux family runs for town mayor. Sure to be a crowd favorite! Get your tickets early!
FROM THE OTHER SIDE
De l’autre côté
directed by Chantal Akerman
France | 2002 | 99 min.
Chantal Akerman shifts her focus between the border town of Agua Prieta, Sonora, and neighboring Douglas, Arizona, a town ringed by mountains and desert plains.
“Chilling...alternates between stunningly composed talking-heads with long shots of the dangerous desert terrain the Mexicans must cross en route to what will be at best a land of exile.” —Amy Taubin Film Comment
In Sociology is a Martial Art, The Last Letter and this film one can see how the thoughtful use of the most basic grammar and mechanics of cinema can create powerful art.
IN MY SKIN
Dans ma peau
directed by Marina de Van
cast Marina de Van, Laurent Lucas, Lea Drucker
France | 2002 | 93 min.
A woman (played by the director) grows increasingly fascinated with her body after suffering a disfiguring accident. Disquieting actions ensue. An intense and brutal flick which received buzz at the New York Horror Film Festival. One does not yet want to enroll director de Van in the Gaspar Noe School for Fine Cinema. And one wonders how In My Skin plays along I Stand Alone and Irreversible (both by Gaspar Noe), The Pianist (Haneke), Baise Moi (Virginie Despentes), and the novels Elementary Particles and Platform (both by Michel Houellebecq).
THE LAST LETTER
directed by Frederick Wiseman
cast Catherine Samie
France/USA | 2002 | 61 min.
Adapted from Vasily Grossman’s novel, Life and Fate, set in 1941 in which a Russian Jewish woman writes a last letter to her son, a famous Russian physicist. She writes the last letter a few days before she knows she and the other Jews in her city will be killed by the Germans.
“Ace documenter Wiseman’s first foray into fiction gets at the truth through thoughtful staging superb black-and-white lensing and an overriding intelligence in the service of emotion...The cumulative effect is quietly decisively magnificent.” — Lisa Nesselson Variety
directed by Robert Morin
cast Iannicko N’Doua-Légaré, Béatrice Picard, Robin Aubert, Emmanuel Bilodeau
Canada | 2002 | 92 min.
In the middle of the night, in the Quebec countryside, a black teenager is caught smashing a racially denigrating lawn ornament. A cruelly powerful film about intolerance; a dark, violent tale peppered with dark humor. Especially strong acting in which some of the dialogue is improvised.
NO REST FOR THE BRAVE
Pas de repos pour les braves
directed by Alain Guiraudie
cast Laurent Soffiati, Thomas Blanchard, Thomas Suire
France/Austria | 2003 | 107 min.
“A coming-of-age film like no other you’ll have seen... The geographic and existential odyssey of Basile a young man who wants to dream but who knows if he ever falls asleep again he’ll die... No Rest for the Brave is also a thriller an adventure story an art film a western a film noir and a road movie.”” — Sandra Hebron The Times/BFI London Film Festival
PIERRE BOURDIEU: SOCIOLOGY IS A MARTIAL ART
La sociologie est un sport de combat
directed by Pierre Carles
cast Pierre Bourdieu, Pierre Carles, Loïc Wacquant
France | 2001 | 146 min.
Pierre Bourdieu’s forty books and countless articles represent probably the most brilliant and fruitful renovation and application of social science in this era; his work attempts to elucidate the processes of symbolic violence and cultural domination in various areas of social life. Filmed over three years, director Carles aims at a “full and fair” portrait by using the strategy of the long take/talking head style. Carles does not want to reduce Bourdieu to a string of catchy sound bytes. Note that this will be receiving only one screening.
PLAYING “IN THE COMPANY OF MEN”
Léo en jouant “Dans la compagnie des hommes”
directed by Arnaud Desplechin
cast Sami Bouajila, Jean-Paul Roussillon, Wladimir Yordanoff, Laszlo Szabo
France | 2003 | 121 min.
Desplechin, whose Esther Kahn played the Festival two years ago, continues his exegesis of cinema and the stage — which suggests at least one issue in common with the great director Jacques Rivette.
directed by Jean-Claude Brisseau
cast Sabrina Seyvecou, Coralie Revel, Roger Mirmont, Fabrice Deville
France | 2002 | 115 min.
“There’s plenty for both the eyes and the intellect to groove over...a taut juicy feast of sexual and office politics...the delectably twisted fable centers on two penniless but shapely young women who set out to better their social station by manipulating men.” —Variety
SEX IS COMEDY
directed by Catherine Breillat
cast Anne Parillaud, Gregoire Colin, Roxane Mesquida
France | 2002 | 92 min.
A film about the making of a film...or, to be more specific, a film about a film director (Parillaud) obsessing over a sex scene (Mesquida and Colin) in a film. We are not in Boogie Nights territory as the film becomes a meditation on sex, power, the “making of” documentaries and the cinema. Certainly this film can be viewed in the context of Breillat’s own experiences directing scenes of nudity and carnality in Fat Girl, Romance, and A Very Young Girl. Sometimes witty: and sometimes aggressively boring — but to good effect. Never has a film about the shooting of a sex scene had so much talk so little skin.
SINCE OTAR LEFT
Depuis qu’Otar est parti
directed by Julie Bertuccelli
cast Esther Gorintin, Nino Khomassouridze, Dinara Droukarova, Temour Kalandadze
France | 2003 | 102 min.
Julie Bertuccelli’s provocative debut is set in contemporary Georgia where three generations of women deal with the absence of the most important man in their lives — Otar, who has left for Paris to make a livable wage. As the women get on with their lives tensions surface — tensions which reflect Russian history from Stalin to the present. Director Bertuccelli shows skill in working with the actresses.
directed by André Téchiné
cast Emmanuelle Béart, Gaspard Ulliel, Clemence Meyer, Jean Fornerod
France | 2003 | 95 min.
As the Germans invade France, families abandon their towns and seek refuge in the countryside. Téchiné wisely keeps the action and suspense low. Similar to other Festival films, people move from urban to rural where the effects of landscape, eros, and class play out.
The Time of the Wolf
Le temps du loup
directed by Michael Haneke
cast Isabelle Huppert, Béatrice Dalle, Patrice Chereau, Rona Hartner
France/Austria/Germany | 2003 | 110 min.
Funny Games meets 28 Days Later. Fleeing an unnamed, far-reaching cataclysm, Anna and her family arrive at their holiday home to find it occupied by strangers, other refugees — and then the fun begins. Haneke’s tales of pathology are populated by many types, many kinds, acting out in many situations which can call into question the “norms” of existence.
THE TRILOGY PART ONE: ON THE RUN
directed by Lucas Belvaux
cast Catherine Frot, Lucas Belvaux, Dominique Blanc, Ornella Muti
France/Belgium | 2002 | 111 min.
After 15 years in prison, leftist revolutionary Bruno (played by director Belvaux) escapes and heads back to Grenoble.
The trilogy part two: amazing couple
Un couple épatant
directed by Lucas Belvaux
cast Ornella Muti, Francois Morel, Valerie Mairesse, Bernard Mazzinghi
France/Belgium | 2002 | 97 min.
For the second part of Belvaux’s project, Alain’s eccentric behavior causes his wife to hire a detective to follow his every move — unexpected things turn up.
THE TRILOGY PART THREE: AFTER LIFE
Aprés la vie
directed by Lucas Belvaux
cast Dominique Blanc, Gilbert Melki, Ornella Muti, Francois Morel
France/Belgium | 2002 | 124 min.
In the final chapter of Belvaux’s trilogy, Pascal, now a disgraced cop, seeks redemption by capturing Bruno, a fugitive with a strange connection to Pascal’s heroin-addicted wife.
directed by Bruno Dumont
cast David Wissak, Katia Golubeva
France | 2003 | 119 min.
The Festival is proud to continue tracking the path of newer directors now having shown all of Bruno Dumont’s work (Life of Jesus, Humanité). So, Last Tango in Paris (Bertolucci) meets Gerry (Van Sant) And a healthy dose of Glen and Randa (McBride) And, some Pierrot le fou (Godard) And, a pinch of Zabriskie Point (Antonioni). For his third film, Dumont works from a deceptively simple plot where a couple, who can barely communicate verbally, depart from Los Angeles on a road trip to Twenty-nine Palms and the desert. Nudity. Frequent sex. The two form a couple, then briefly separate, then recouple. As in Dumont’s other films one can see the import of landscape and eros. Lead actor David Wissak comes across as a Dennis Hopper on downers. A great one-song soundtrack!