Foreign-language Oscar hope gets local première at film fest
IN its 23rd year, Manitoba’s annual French-language film festival is presenting Canada’s Oscar entry to the foreign-language film category, a kinky drama from Roman Polanski and an oddball live-action film from the director of The Triplets of Belleville. It is, in short, a mixed bag of films for adults, for kids and for cineastes of all stripes. “It represents the best of what’s out there in French-language film, whether from Quebec or France,” says Cinémental co-ordinator Chantal Vermette. “They’re just good films.” The coup of the festival is the Manitoba première of Xavier Dolan’s Mommy, the fest’s closing-night film (Sunday, Oct. 26, at 7:30 p.m.), a jury prize winner at this year’s Cannes festival and Canada’s best hope for a foreign-language Oscar in 2015. “We were absolutely delighted to give the film its Manitoba première,” says Vermette of the drama, in which a woman gets custody of her troubled son after he is expelled from a rehab facility. Vermette points out that one family film, Belle and Sébastien (Saturday at 1 p.m.), has the potential to treat English-speaking audiences to a classic French story, especially those who only know Belle and Sebastian as a Glaswegian pop band. It is, in fact, a venerable tale of a boy and his dog having adventures in the French Alps. It was a live-action TV series in the 1960s, Vermette says, and a Japanese anime series in the ’80s. Cinémental is presenting the new 2013 feature film from France. In a decidedly more adult vein is Roman Polanski’s Venus in Fur (Sunday at 4 p.m.), an adaptation of David Ives’ 2010 stage play that examines a masochistic relationship, starring Emmanuelle Seigner (Polanski’s wife) and Mathieu Amalric. The play within the play is Venus in Furs by Austrian author Leopold von Sacher-Masoch, the man for whom masochism was named. And if that sounds pretty kinky for Cinémental’s conservative fare, Vermette says the sexuality is more implied than explicit. Sylvain Chomet, the celebrated director of the animated films The Triplets of Belleville and The Illusionist, turns to live action with Attila Marcel (Saturday at 3 p.m.), the story of a mute pianist who lives with his aunts. When his neighbour brews him a special tea, it evokes long-buried memories about his hidden past. “His memories are sung and danced,” Vermette says of this fanciful film, in the
Belle et Sébastien is based on a 1967 novel by Cécile Aubry.