Cinephiles are excited for Cinémental, Manitoba’s festival of French-language films. Spanning two weekends in October, the festival brings local, Québécois and international French cinema to Winnipeg audiences.
Daniel Gervais, president of Cinémental, says the goal of the festival is to show the best of francophone cinema in all its varieties.
“We try to give an idea of what francophone cinema is,” he explains.
The festival line-up includes 17 feature-length films, most of which are Manitoba premieres.
“This’ll be the first time you’ll see (these films). They might play at Cinematheque later or at (Gimli Film Festival), but we’ll show it here first,” Gervais says. “A lot of them were premiered at Cannes.”
The festival’s lineup is decided by a programming committee of eight volunteers. Most of the films are fiction, rather than documentary, and all but two of the features are subtitled in English.
“One of the things that people often tell us about the festival is, ‘Oh, I don’t speak French, I don’t want to come,’” Gervais says. By screening subtitled versions, Gervais hopes those who do not speak French will feel welcome to attend alongside the city’s francophone audiences.
The festival is also a chance for the francophone film community to come together.
“Ideally, we try to have one local film each year, because it becomes a big event,” Gervais says. “All the community comes out to support it.”
This year’s local film is a feature-length drama, shot entirely in Winnipeg by filmmaker Jeremy Guenette and his colleague, Gabriel Levesque.
“(It’s a) completely local production,” Guenette says. “All local Winnipeg cast and crew, save for the main actor (who is from Montreal).”
Guenette’s film, Mia, made its Canadian premiere as part of Cinémental at the Centre culturel franco-manitobain on Oct. 14, followed by a Q-and-A and a reception.
While Guenette has worked in the film industry for years and has made his own short films, Mia is his first feature and his first substantial project made in French.
For Guenette, the biggest difference between making films in English and in French boils down to local resources.
“We’re a bit smaller as a city to begin with, but then when you pare that down to the French community, there’s just not that many opportunities for people to work, particularly in drama, in French,” he says.
Mia is a detective drama, but the festival is showcasing an array of styles and genres.
“French movies are often dramas, very serious, so if you can find a comedy, that’s kind of gold,” Gervais says. “There’s something for everybody at the festival.”
“My favourite (film) this year is called Lost in Paris,” Gervais says. “It’s kind of an absurd humour. Everyone’s going to be smiling, for sure, at that one.”
The festival takes place Oct. 13-15 at Centre culturel franco-manitobain and Oct. 20-22 at SilverCity St. Vital. Tickets are $10 per movie. Advanced tickets and the full program are available at cinemental.com.