2009 Festival

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Simon Olivier Fecteau got his first camera and directed his first films at the age of twelve. He joined the Chick'n Swell Group in 1999 and created the eponymous program for Radio Canada. In 2004 Mr. Fecteau won the Gémeau for best humor programming. He has directed several award winning shorts; Bluff is his first feature film.
Marc-André Lavoie received his degree in communication studies from UQAM in Montréal, after which he started a career in advertising. But he was haunted by the desire to direct films. He started with several shorts and jumped on the chance to write and direct his first feature, Bluff.

L'ambassade (The Embassy)
DIRECTED BY Chris Marker
France | 1973 | 21 m
One of Chris Marker's few fiction films, The Embassy shows political dissidents seeking refuge in a foreign embassy after a military coup d'état in an unidentified country. Over several days, those fleeing the military assault – teachers, students, intellectuals, artists, and politicians – arrive at the embassy. "Serves as both a portent and potent statement on the myth of cinema as a direct representation of reality." ~The Auteurs Cinema Blog


La brèche de Roland (Roland's Pass)
DIRECTED BY Amaud Larrieu + Jean-Marie Larrieu
France | 2000 | 47 m
CAST Mathieu Amalric, Cécile Reigherm Anaïs Chunleau, Julien Rivière

Roland organizes a family hike up a famous mountain cliff that bears his name. He is accompanied by his wife and, grudgingly,their two teenage children. Tension builds as the parents are separated from their children and then get lost themselves. Filmed in the Pyrénées. This film was produced by Festival guest Géraldine Michelot.

La leçon de danse (The Dance Lesson)
DIRECTED BY Philippe Prouff
France | 2006 | 5 m
CAST Maxime Dorian

This film is dedicated to all the people who want to impress others with revolutionary dance training. You will no longer have an excuse not to move your body to the sound of digital beats. Two left feet? No rhythm? No problem. One man breaks it down in this hilarious instructional dance class. ~Film Movement

La sixième face du pentagone (The Sixth Side of the Pentagon)
DIRECTED BY Chris Marker
France | 1967 | 26
On October 21, 1967, over 100,000 protesters gathered in Washington, D.C., for the Mobilization to End the War in Vietnam. Norman Mailer, in Armies of the Night, covered the event in his journalistic way. Chris Marker was there, too, camera in hand. He puts us in the midst of the action and combines the experience with his reflective commentary. As Sofia Norlin (Association des Cinemas de Recherche d'lle-de-France) puts it, "Marker isn't there simply to record reality, he is there to write, to rewrite reality during filming ... recording the memory of a moment when social criticism becomes political action."

L'âge des ténèbres (Days of Darkness)
DIRECTED BY Denys Arcand
Canada | 2007 | 104 mn
CAST Marc Labrèche, Diane Kruger, Sylvie Léonard, Caroline Néron, Rufus Wainwright
This sly comedy/drama, which has been compared to American Beauty, can be thought of as director Arcand's third offering in a trilogy of The Decline of the American Empire (1986) and The Barbarian Invasions (2003). Jean-Marc, a civil servant in a "Bartleby the Scrivener" job, is in a mid-life crisis and has taken to disappearing into an elaborate fantasy life where he is free to be famous, suave and sought-after. When his successful wife leaves him for a career opportunity and his ailing mother places demands on him, his real life begins to lose out to the dream world. As with the first two films of this trilogy, Arcand's humor and satiric jabs are tempered by serious issues that pop out of the shadows.

Azur et Asmar
DIRECTED BY Michel Ocelot
France | 2006 | 99 m
CAST (voices) Cyril Mourali, Karim M'Riba, Hiam Abbass, Patrick Timsit

Director Ocelot continues his journey of animation and produces his signature stunning look as well as a strong narrative. Azur, the son of a nobleman, and Asmar, the son of a nanny, are raised nearly as brothers by Asmar's mother. As children they hear many enchanting stories, but their favorite is the tale of the Djinn fairy who waits to be released by a noble prince. The boys are separated when Azur is sent for schooling, and Asmar and his mother must fend for themselves. Years later they are reunited, but find they must compete against each other to free the Djinn fairy.

DIRECTED BY Simon-Olivier Fecteau + Marc-André Lavoie
Canada | 2007 | 88 m
CAST Rémy Girard, Pierre-François Legendre, Julie Perreault, Isabelle Blais

While conducting the final safety check of a building slated for demolition, a worker makes a discovery that predicts the tragic end for one of the building's past tenants. So begins a review of the lives of the unusual cast of tenants – the burglar planning his final job, the couple searching for a lost painting, the aging boxer challenging his daughter's new boyfriend, the stressed grad student searching for a job, the couple trying to have a baby. They all have something to hide. Rumor has it that you should stay for the final scene after the credits.

Capitaine Achab
DIRECTED BY Philippe Ramos
Sweden/France | 2007 | 105 m
CAST Denis Lavant, Jacques Bonnaffé, Bernard Blancan, Jean-François Stévenin

French arthouse cinema vs. 1950s Hollywood epic ... Philippe Ramos vs. John Huston ... Capitaine Achab vs. Moby Dick. This is a retelling of Herman Melville's famous tale from the perspective of Captain Ahab. The stylized portrait pokes and questions Ahab's monomania. Each chapter is told from the point of view of a key person in Ahab's life from childhood up to the Pequod's fate – delivered in Melvillean speak. This whale-less Captain Ahab has some jaw-dropping cinematography and a provocative use of sound and music.

La capture
DIRECTED BY Carole Laure
France/Canada | 2007 | 92 m
CAST Catherine de Léan, Laurent Lucas, Francis Ducharme, Pascale Bussières

To look at Rose - a happy 20-year-old professional dancer - no one would suspect the past traumas that continue to haunt her. Although she is settled in her life with boyfriend Nathan in Montreal, she is still anxious about her family. After an absence of two years, she returns to the family home, to find that her violent father is still tormenting her mother and brother. She decides the time has come for her to take charge of the situation....

Un dimanche à Kigali
DIRECTED BY Robert Favreau
Canada | 2006 | 118 m
CAST Luc Picard, Fatou N'Diaye, Vincent Bilodeau, Celine Bonnier

Based upon the Gil Courtemanche's book Un Dimanche a la Piscine de Kigali, a middle-aged Canadian journalist visits Rwanda to make a documentary about AIDS. He falls in love with a Rwandan woman, but is forced to leave her and the country as tensions between the Tutsis and Hutus escalate. Months later he returns. A million Rwandans have been massacred. The devastation wrought by the genocide is a stark contrast to the earlier time in the country. Comparisons with Hotel Rwanda and the spate of narrative films about Western journalists on assignment in an African country are inevitable. It is curious how those films raise various issues and associated tragedies but then eclipse them with a love/separation/reunion plot axis....

Les enfants de Don Quichotte
DIRECTED BY Ronan Denecé + Augustin Legrand
France | 2008 | 75 m

A particularly intense and personal document of guerilla filmmaking contributing to the voice and rights of the homeless. In Paris – in particular, the banks of Canal Saint Martin – directors Denecé and Legrand, along with the participation of the homeless and fellow activists, attempt to find housing for the homeless. They join a group of French filmmakers who have combined the techniques and aesthetics of cinema with political actions. The 1970s Chris Marker films shown at the Festival depict an earlier, different strategy.

Entre adultes (Among Adults)
DIRECTED BY Stephane Brizé
France | 2007 | 81 m
CAST Edith Merieau, Vincent Dubois, Jeanne Feron, Philippe Fauconnier

Director Brizé wrote and directed this character study of twelve lovers caught in the throes of desire and its consequences. The screenplay was inspired by La Ronde, Max Ophuls's mid-century adaptation of Arthur Schnitzler's play Der Reigen which was censored in Austria in 1904. The film was made in only ten days with two video cameras and a microphone. The actors and director rehearsed for six days, then the film was shot in only four.

La fille de Monaco (The Girl from Monaco)
DIRECTED BY Anne Fontaine
France | 2008 | 94 m
CAST Fabrice Luchini, Roschdy Zem, Stephane Audran, Gilles Cohen, Alexandre Steiger, Jeanne Balibar

Upon first viewing, I saw the ghosts of Cary Grant and Grace Kelly on the screen's edges – and just as stunning as their To Catch a Thief rendezvous. A witty, caustic satire of the glamour set and their plays at love, power, and ambition in Monaco. Anne Fontaine continues to establish herself as a world-class director, and she shows a control and understanding of this genre. A famous Parisian lawyer, unschooled in the ways of love, falls for a flaky weather-girl for a cable TV channel in Monaco (last year's Chabrol film involved a TV weather girl, too) after taking the case of a wealthy woman who has killed her young lover. What follows is a pleasurably twisted road, strewn with witty one-liners and pointed dialogue. This whets the appetite for Fontaine's next projects.

La frontière de l'aube (Frontier of Dawn)
DIRECTED BY Philippe Garrel
France | 2008 | 106 m
CAST Louis Garrel, Laura Smet, Clementine Poidatz, Olivier Massart

Shot in soft black and white. Carole, a celebrity neglected by her husband, falls for François, a young photographer. Director Garrell keeps matters low-key as he blurs genres and other areas: romantic drama and horror, spiritual/mysticism and magnetic carnality. A different, painfully more intimate work than seen in last year's Festival favorite, Regular Lovers.

Il sera une fois (Once Upon a Tomorrow)
DIRECTED BY Sandrine Veysset
France | 2007 | 77 m
CAST Alphonse Emery, Lucie Régnier, Jean-Christophe Bouvet, Dominique Reymond

A young boy, Pierrot, lives by measuring his moments. Each tick seems to leave a physical impression on him. Yet increasingly, Pierrot moves inward, living not for the moment but for the future he knows is speeding towards him.... Veysset has created a lyrical, provocative look at the terror that times holds for all of us, its control over even our simplest actions and relationships, and how it seems to gain power the less we're aware of its effects on us. ~Rendezvous, Film Society of Lincoln Center

Il y a longtemps que je t'aime (I've Loved You So Long)
DIRECTED BY Phillipe Claude
France/Germany | 2007 | 115 mn
CAST Kristin Scott Thomas, Elsa Zylberstein, Serge Hazanavicius, Laurent Grévill

Juliette has served 15 years in prison. Confronted with the unexpected goodness of her younger sister, Léa, who makes Juliette part of her family, Juliette carefully opens up. Kristin Scott Thomas has earned a Golden Globe nomination for her memorable performance, which could be described as one of transparency with depth. Such a feat, along with director Claudel's assured, steady hand, elevates the fellow actors' performances along with the resonance of the story.

Kinshasa Palace
DIRECTED BY Zeka Laplaine
Democratic Republic of Congo | 2006 | 70 m
CAST Ambre Laplaine, Anna Maria Laplaine, Gaspard Laplaine, Iris Laplaine

When the director's brother Max disappears, he travels across Kinshasa, Lisbon, France, Belgium, and Cambodia to find him. Described as a "faux documentary," this study of a family's displacement caused by the African diaspora is created out of family photos, stock footage, and home video images of several generations of a family caught between Europe and Africa. The fit of melancholy and the cold bite of today's world suggest some of the great early Wim Wenders road films such as Alice in the City and Kings of the Road. Perhaps this is a seminal road movie for the early 21st Century?

Naissance des pieuvres (Waterlilies)
DIRECTED BY Céline Sciamma
France | 2007 | 85 m
CAST Pauline Acquart, Louise Blachere, Adele Haenel, Warren Jacquin

Can director Sciamma's first feature be mentioned in the same breath as such important, diverse French coming-of-age films as The 400 Blows and Fat Girl? Three 15-year old girls cross paths in a Parisian suburb with the swimming pool and synchronized swimming as the fulcrum for budding relationships. Director Sciamma shows restraint in her portrayal of desire delicately impacting the three girls. While the triangle may symbolically depict the three teens' relationships, the water lily (or octopus, as the French title states) captures the juggling that teens are faced with – the ever-present threat of embarrassment perfectly evokes the uncomfortable awkwardness of adolescence.

Le nouveau monde (The New World)
DIRECTED BY Etienne Dhaene
France | 2007 | 90 m
CAST Natalia Dontcheva, Vanessa Larre, Gregory Fitoussi, Patrice Juiff
Lucie, in love with Marion, begins to experience the yearning for motherhood. A wisely low-key drama/comedy exploring two attractive, young women in love and enjoying Paris to the hilt. Director Dhaene's narrative points to a host of issues while refraining from firework dramatics and silly, low-ball humor. Worthy of post-screening reflection.

Peindre ou faire l'amour (To Paint or Make Love)
DIRECTED BY Arnaud Larrieu
France | 2005 | 100 m
CAST Sabine Azema, Daniel Auteuil, Amira Casar, Sergi Lopez, Jacques Nolot
An affluent, middle-aged couple's uneventful lives are forever changed when they move into an isolated house in the country and befriend an odd, younger couple. Daniel Auteuil gives a particularly fine performance. This film was produced by Festival guest Géraldine Michelot.

Les plages d'Agnès (The Beaches of Agnès)
France | 2008 | 110 m
CAST Agnès Varda, Blaise Fournier, Andree Vilar, Stephane Vilar, Mathieu Demy, Jim McBride, Zalman King

In 1954 Agnès Varda used the locale and fishermen of Sète for her first feature, La Pointe Courte. Now this tireless, prolific, important director returns to Sète and its beaches to construct a retrospective. But it's a mistake to limit Varda with labels. Here she adeptly weaves photographs with footage from her own films and archival footage into a very personal, very human art work that risks sensory and emotional overload. Varda gives us a glimpse into her navigation and interpretation of a medium and its evolution and makes clear that celluloid remains near and dear to her. We look forward to future Varda work and hope this summation is merely a brief rest on the beach.

DIRECTED BY Pierre Schöller
France | 2008 | 102 m
CAST Guillaume Depardieu, Max Baissette de Malglaive, Judith Chemla, Aure Atika

In present-day Paris Nina, a homeless mother, and her child find refuge on the outskirts of the castle at Versailles. There she meets Damien, a recluse living in a makeshift hut. They spend the night together but in the morning Nina has vanished leaving her son Enzio with Damien. The two sort out living with each other and survival. One of the last performances by Guillaume Depardieu, who died last October. Versailles will be screened only once during the festival.

Youssou n'dour: Retour à Gorée
DIRECTED BY Pierre-Yves Borgeaud
Senegal/Switzerland/Luxembourg | 2006 | 108 m

Senegalese singer Youssou N'Dour's historical journey tracing the trail left by slaves and the music they created. N'Dour's challenge is to bring back to Africa a jazz repertoire of his own songs to perform a concert in Gorée, the island that today symbolizes the slave trade and stands to honor the victims. From Atlanta to New Orleans, from New York to Bordeaux and Luxembourg, the songs are transformed, immersed in jazz and gospel. Transcending cultural divisions and rehearsing with some of the world's most exceptional musicians, N'Dour is preparing to return to Africa for the final concert. (Description courtesy of ArtMattan Productions.