What to see at this year’s Rendez-Vous French Film Festival in Vancouver

Liane Prefontaine in a scene from Sophie Goyette’s film Mes nuits feront echo, one of over 40 French films screening with this year’s Rendez-Vous French Film Festival in Vancouver.

Practice your French – or at least your English-subtitle-reading – at the Rendez-Vous French Film Festival. The festival’s 23rd year features over 40 films from Quebec and France Feb. 2-12 in several locations. Besides award-winning films. The festival includes Q&As with special guests, a tremendous short-film program, and a gala evening Feb. 4 at Auditorium Jules Verne.

So what’s on the agenda? Let’s take a look at some of the highlights.

Marguerite (2015) – Would you believe that there’s yet another film about the wannabe opera star Florence Foster Jenkins, most recently played by Meryl Streep in a movie by the same name? This French/Czech/Belgian comedy/drama is loosely inspired by Jenkins, who is represented here as a delusional socialite named Marguerite Dumont (Catherine Frot). Marguerite received eleven nominations at the 41st César Awards, winning for Best Actress, Best Costume Design, Best Sound, and Best Production Design.

Juste la fin du monde (2015) – Celebrated Quebecois filmmaker Xavier Dolan (Tom at the Farm, Mommy) is back with another formally inventive film. This one is based on a play by French writer Jean-Luc Lagarce and stars Nathalie Baye, Marion Cotillard, Léa Seydoux, and Vincent Cassel. It won both the Palme d’Or and the Prize of the Ecumenical Cannes Jury last May.

Mes nuits feront echo (2016) – This debut feature from director Sophie Goyette was selected in the Official Competition at last year’s Rotterdam International Film Festival in the Bright Future category. “The surprises keep coming in this refreshing film, which pulsates with playfulness and understated cinematic audacity,” wrote the Montreal Gazette.

Quebec My Country Mon Pays – “Two solitudes” is a phrase often used to describe the two different cultures, anglophone and francophone, that coexist in Canada. Both also exist in Quebec, and John Walker’s documentary Quebec My Country Mon Pays explores their often fraught relationship in the province Quebec. Walker, who moved from Montreal with his family after the rise of the independence movement in the 1960s and ’70s, speaks to key cultural figures as well as young francophones and anglophones, and uses archival materials and the director’s family history as a way to understand the roots of the divide.

1:54 (2016) – Director Yan England will be in attendance at the screening of this, his feature-length debut. The Montreal Gazette describes 1:54 as “two films in one”; both are pretty good, says the review, and the finale is powerful.

Sophie Nélisse and Antoine Olivier Pilon star in Yan England’s 1:54, a portrait of bullying and a look at high-school sports.

There are more films, as well as a short film program gala evening Feb. 4 at Auditorium Jules-Verne (5445 Baillie St.), hosted by comedian Jacques Lalonde. The short film program includes two films from France.

Screening locations include Coquitlam Evergreen Cultural Centre (1205 Pinetree Way);
Jules Verne Auditorium; Alliance française (6161 Cambie Street); and SFU Woodwards (149 West Hastings Street).

For a complete listing of films, ticket info, show times and more, visit rendez-vousvancouver.com.

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