With over 300 films, including 86 premieres, the 30th edition of the Rendez-vous du cinéma québécois, February 15–26, is a crash course in the prolific, inventive state of Quebec film today. Among all the movie-going, the festival also brings directors, actors, writers and other film-industry names together for public talks, cocktail events, outdoor activities and, of course, parties…
This year, Les Rendez-vous du cinéma québécois goes for gold with the Canadian premiere of Montreal filmmaker Denis Côté’s new film, Bestiaire, an exploration of nature and civilization through images of animals at a safari park in rural Quebec. Also premiering are Michèle Lemieux’s National Film Board animated short Le grand ailleurs et le petit ici and Jason Nardella’s NFB feature documentary 78 Days. The festival closes with Brigitte Poupart’s vivid documentary Over My Dead Body, about Montreal choreographer-dancer Dave St-Pierre’s wait for a lung transplant.
Anglophone Montreal filmmakers fare well at the festival too: Jacob Tierney’s Good Neighbours uncovers secrets and lies, starring Jay Baruchel and Scott Speedman; well-known Montreal theatre writer and director Guy Sprung delves into film with The Hat Goes Wild; Tara John’s award-winning feature The Year Dolly Parton Was My Mom shares coming of age in the ‘70s; Toronto International Film Festival short-film entry Sorry Rabbi, directed by Mark Slutsky and starring Mad Men’s Jessica Paré, makes no apologies (well, maybe one or two); a “Best of” series of shorts featuring English-language films; and Dominic James’ feature film Die brings horror to town.
The fest also includes English- and French-language documentaries – such as Mia Donovan’s Inside Lara Roxx, which gives voice to a former porn star; Jean-Claude Coulbois’s Mort subite d’un homme-théâtre about actor Robert Gravel, Matthiew Klinck’s My Brother Lives in China, and a doc about Alexandro Jodorowsky’s recent visit to Montreal – as well as a series of feature films released in the last year, such as Daniel Roby’s bilingual dramatic disco inferno Funkytown, André Forcier’s dark comedy Coteau Rouge, Philippe Falardeau’s Oscar-nominated Monsieur Lazhar and more.
Special to this 30th anniversary edition are master classes with filmmaker Robert Morin (Requiem pour un beau sans-coeur) and Claire Denis (Beau Travail) and a screening of the film that opened the fest’s first edition in 1982: Jean Pierre Lefebvre’s Les fleurs sauvages. And get hands-on with the history and present of the Quebec film industry at talks, cocktail events and parties – such as film debate “Le combat des films” and masked ball Le carnaval des Rendez-vous – throughout the festival, often at the Cinémathèque québécoise.
Free outdoor events during Nuit Blanche (February 25) at Place Pasteur include: Independent film collective Kino’s homage to 30 Quebecois films from the past 30 years – their short films, made during the festival, will be projected at 10 p.m, Projet TRAME, an interactive (via smart phone) multimedia spectacle from media students at the Université du Québec à Montréal at 6 p.m., and Cinékaraoké, featuring scenes from classic Quebec cinema at 11:45 p.m.
Film screenings take place at in Montreal’s bustling Latin Quarter, at Cinémathèque québécoise, Cinéma ONF-NFB, the Grande Bibliothèque, Cineplex Odeon Quartier Latin, Place Pasteur and Cinéma Impérial.
Les Rendez-vous du cinéma québécois, February 15–26, 2012