Cinéfranco is entering its 11th year in Toronto as the largest celebration of French cinema in English Canada. Francophone films will again begin illuminating The Royal cinema's screen on Friday, March 28 to Sunday, April 6. Boasting 46 films this year, the festival features fair from not only Quebec and France, but also Belgium, Chad, Italy, Morocco, Spain and Switzerland.
"We passed an important landmark with the 10th Anniversary of Cinéfranco in 2007", said Executive Director Marcelle Lean. "Toronto audiences have grown along with Cinéfranco and we are happy to present them with another richly varied program of French films."
As audience attendance continues to grow, the appetite in Toronto for a French-dedicated festival is undeniable. In addition to the mostly R-rated presentations, organizers are bringing back matinees with kid-friendly flicks between March 31 and April 4. "Students can come and enjoy these films with their schools every day of the week at noon. To further create a culturally resonant milieu for the students of French," said Lean.
The opening night film is Toi (You), a dramady by Quebecois director François Delisle starring Laurent Lucas, Anne-Marie Cadieux, Marc Béland and Raphaël Dury. Director François Delisle will also be in attendance.
The program will close with a new film by one of France's best-known filmmakers: Claude Miller. Un Secret (The Secret) is a drama starring Patrick Bruel, Cécile de France, Ludivine Sagnier and Julie Depardieu who was awarded the 2008 Cesar for Best Actress in a Supporting Role.
This year's Cinéfranco is putting a spotlight on films from Morocco, selected for their strong messages on prejudice, oppression, exile and peaceful co-existence. In Samira's Garden, a young woman is trapped by tradition and culture; Où vas-tu Moshé? (Where Are You Going Moshe?) is a bittersweet comedy set against the historical backdrop of the Jewish exodus from Morocco; Adieu Mères (Goodbye Mothers), set in 1960's Casablanca, holds out the possibility of communities living together harmoniously despite government interventions; and Islamour is a contemporary drama about a Moroccan-American family who move to Morocco and are torn apart by the events of 9/11.
In addition, on Sunday, April 6 a special roundtable discussion with visiting Moroccan filmmakers will be held at the Hot Pot Café. Participants will include Mohammed Ismaïl (Adieu Mères), Saâd Chraïbi (Islamour) and Hassan Benjelloun (Où vas-tu Moshé?).
Cinéfranco is co-presenting the English Canadian premiere of DP 75 Tartina City with Journalists for Human Rights. Chad filmmaker Issa Serge Coelo's film follows a young journalist's attempts to expose human rights violations but ends up himself incarcerated in one of Chad's overcrowded prisons.
France remains at the centre of Cinéfranco's line-up with exciting new filmmakers like Céline Sciamma (Naissance des Pieuvres) and celebrated filmmakers like Jean Becker (Dialogue avec mon Jardinier), Claude Berri (Ensemble c'est tout), Claude Lelouch (Roman de Gare), Thomas Gilou (Michou d'Auber), and Claude Miller (Un Secret).
Aspring to all tastes, comedies such as Eric Lavaine's Poltergay, Ivan Calbérac's On va s'aimer (Cheating Love) and Gérard Pirès outrageous parody of James Bond films Double Zéro (French Spies) can also be found at the festival.
Cinéfranco will be paying tribute to Jean-Pierre Cassel, one of France's most loved actors who passed away last year. In memorial, organizers will screen the 2007 musical comedy J'aurais voulu être un danseur (Gone for A Dance) starring Cassel as a video store manager's father, whose son becomes obsessed with musicals as the two generations of men before him.
Cinéfranco will also be presenting highlights from the past year in Quebecois film with a dozen films including Les 3 P'tits Cochons (The 3 Little Pigs), a comedy from popular actor turned first time director Patrick Huard (Good Cop, Bon Cop); La Capture with Carole Laure; Fernand Dansereau's touching drama La Brunante (Twilight) starring Monique Mercure and Patrick Labbé; Richard Jutras' La Belle empoisonneuse, a drama starring Robert Lepage; and Pascal Bussières in the thriller Guide de la petite vengeance (The Little Book of Revenge).
Summarizing this year’s program, Lean said “Close to my heart at Cinéfranco 2008 are themes of personal, political social identity that are explored in stunning thought-provoking films on the right to live, on the right to love and the right to be.”
The full list of films and schedule can be found at the official Cinéfranco web site.