French Film Festival returns for a third year

L’Amour et la Violence at Cinematheque

Guest programmer Damien Ferland (left) with Anaïs Bernat of Alliance Française.

Photo by Callie Lugosi

Pour ceux qui apprécie le cinéma, an interesting festival is returning to Winnipeg.

Alliance Française’s French Film Festival will give Winnipeggers the opportunity to see a diverse selection of foreign feature-length movies and local short films.

“It is a very important event in the cultural scene in the few years it has existed. Obviously, it is still growing, so we are still figuring out how far it can go and how successful it can be,” Anaïs Biernat, Alliance Française project manager, says.

This year, they are continuing their collaboration with Cinematheque to present the festival.

“The idea is to bring something to Winnipeg that people might not always have access to,” Biernat says. “This year, we decided to have a broader approach and a more local approach as well.”

The theme is L’Amour et la Violence (Love and Violence). Films range from classic to contemporary, with each screening showcasing a short film by a local filmmaker, followed by a full-length feature. All of the movies have English subtitles.

“French filmmaking takes risks,” Damien Ferland, the guest programmer returning for this year’s festival, says. 

For Ferland, it is important to show the diversity of French cinema, as well as themes people may not be used to. 

“We wanted to go with a darker theme this year,” he says. “I always find myself having discussions with people after I see a movie at Cinematheque. I like encouraging that. I like the idea of becoming a different person after you leave the theatre.”

One of several local contributors is Danielle Sturk. Her film Mouvement is playing in the festival. It is a contemporary dance film inspired by choreography of the same name by the late Rachel Brown. Mouvement has no spoken language, but Sturk says it still fits within the program.

“I’m a feminist francophone artist. That is the lens that I look through,” Sturk says. “It really is a core piece of (my) identity that’s been questioned and oppressed in our society and, unfortunately, it still comes up.”

Highlighting the importance of events like this, Sturk remembers a time when being French in Manitoba was much more problematic. 

“When I grew up, there were still bomb threats to the SFM (Société franco-manitobaine) building in the ’80s.”

Sturk is happy to see that pieces like hers have the opportunity to reach a wider audience. 

“I think it’s a fantastic thing, obviously,” she says. “Local films, short films don’t get much screening. Canadian films don’t get much screening.”

The festival runs from March 22 to 25 at Cinematheque at 100 Arthur St. Tickets are $10 for non-members, $8 for students and seniors and $6 for members. Visit or for details.

Published in Volume 71, Number 24 of The Uniter (March 16, 2017)

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