A guide to the year's best festival of Québécois output
Many readers might be under the unfortunate assumption that Quebec cinema can be summed up by Les Boys and Elvis Gratton. Luckily the 26th Rendez-vous du Cinéma Québécois (RVCQ) is here to set the record straight, with 299 shorts, features and documentaries guaranteed to make even the staunchest anglos proud of hailing from La Belle Province.
This year boasts an impressive selection of feature film premieres, including Yves Simoneau’s Emmy-award winning Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee and the festival opener, Tout est parfait, Yves-Christian Fournier’s elegy on teen suicide (whose premiere seems oddly timed after the release of a report this week indicating that, though Quebec still has the country’s highest suicide rate, the numbers are down in almost every age group, especially 16- to 34-year-olds).
In the documentary category, festival closer and Canada Council award-winner Adagio pour un gars de bicycle by Pascale Ferland has people abuzz. It focuses on the life and work of underappreciated 1950s pioneering Quebec filmmaker René Bail, who suffered a terrible car accident in his adult life, leaving him disfigured and seemingly condemning him to obscurity until his death just last year.
Also, while it’s already had its world premiere, the elegiac narrative documentary Up the Yangtze by Yung Chang, about peasants in contemporary China, is not to be missed.
As for short films, Sarah Galea-Davis’s Can You Wave Bye-Bye, which premiered at last year’s Toronto International Film Festival, will have its first Quebec screening at this year’s RVCQ. As well, the animated short Biology Made Un-Easy by James Braithwaite will make its world debut, fresh off the heels of Braithwaite’s Oscar nomination as illustrator for Josh Raskin’s I Met the Walrus.
And (again, not a world premiere) if you missed Chris Lavis and Maciek Szczerbowski’s Madame Tutli-Putli before it received its Oscar nod, here’s your chance to catch it before the Academy Awards take place later this month.
Of course, the RCVQ wouldn’t be a world-class event if it didn’t offer some spectacular one-of-a-kind opportunities to interact with industry luminaries. In this vein, there are six master classes open to the public, including a scriptwriting session with the affable Denys Arcand and a photo lesson by legendary director of photography Renato Berta, who has worked with such European greats as Jean-Luc Godard, Louis Malle and Alain Resnais.
Finally, if those popcorn flicks à la Gratton are what get you going, Cinéma Beaubien will play host to a nightly screening series of big-budget winners from 2007, including Alain Desrochers’s Nitro, Patrick Huard’s Jutra-nominated Les 3 p’tits cochons and Arcand’s L’Âge des ténèbres.
Rendez-vous du Cinéma Québécois
Various locations, Feb. 14-24