Getting Cinemental

Winnipeg French film festival is back

In its 24th year, Cinemental is bringing French cinema from around the globe to Winnipeg.

Chantal Vermette, the festival’s coordinator and a festival attendee since she was a teenager, is excited about what’s in store for this year.

“Our program is so varied that it should appeal to a wide audience,” Vermette says.

Every film will have English subtitles so English speakers can laugh, scream and cry along to all the dramas, comedies, dramedies, thrillers and animated films presented.

Cinemental is one of the largest French cinema festivals west of Quebec and is also one of the only festivals outside of Quebec dedicated exclusively to the year’s best French-language cinema.

Expect to see films like Chorus, a poetic film about two parents who are forced to come to terms with the passing of their child, and Une nouvelle amie which plays with conventional notions of gender and sexuality.

“Our movies are never more than one year old, and we always bring in some special guests, usually actors and directors,” Vermette says. “This year, we have five guests confirmed, one of which is Winnipegger Ryan McKenna.”

McKenna – who now lives in Montreal, Que. – directed Le cœur de Madame Sabali, a quirky story about a woman who gets a heart transplant from a murdered woman.

There will be a Q and A with McKenna after the screening, followed by a reception. Cinemental is holding similar after-film experiences for Antoine et Marie, Limoilou and Le mirage and Samba.

“I would love for Winnipeggers to discover the wealth of French-language cinema and get excited about their home-grown talent,” Vermette says.

“Even if they don’t speak French, Cinemental is an opportunity for people to see something other than Hollywood movies. French and Quebecois directors have a different way of seeing the world, like different ideas, styles, influences, and it’s actually quite refreshing.”

Along with presenting full-length films, Cinemental runs a competition for short films, called Kino.

“The competitions give some visibility to French-Canadian productions and helps encourage new and upcoming directors,” Vermette says. “It also gives local videographers the chance to get some experience while having fun, and allows audiences to discover local talent.”

Cinemental showcases what French-speaking language has to offer in film.

“Film has the capacity to open people to the world. Winnipeg is pretty isolated, and unless you can afford to travel, it’s easy to live in a bubble and ignore what’s going on elsewhere,” Vermette says.

“Film brings the rest of the world to you and opens your eyes to how other people live, how they see life.”

Published in Volume 70, Number 6 of The Uniter (October 15, 2015)

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