Cinemania festival: francophonia’s finest

The 18th edition of Cinemania brings the best of francophone cinema to our town, with English subtitles for the bilingually challenged to boot. We humbly offer our top picks from the fest.

De rouille et d’os (Rust and Bone)

For nearly 20 years, the Cinemania festival has brought the best of francophone cinema to our town, with English subtitles for the bilingually challenged to boot. This year’s 18th annual edition has a couple of heavily buzzed films, some franco celebrity heat and plenty of films that this might be your only chance to see on the big screen.

Things get underway tonight, Thursday Nov. 1, with De rouille et d’os (Rust and Bone), the latest from Jacques Audiard, last seen directing the awesome (and Oscar-nominated) Un prophète. It also stars Mathias Schoenarts, who starred in Belgian drama Bullhead, also nominated at the Oscars last year, along with Marion Cotillard, so the pedigree is solid, and the buzz on this bracing family drama is strong.

Noted French actress and thinking man’s MILF Sandrine Bonnaire will be in town to present her directorial debut, J’enrage de son absence (Maddened by His Absence), a drama starring William Hurt and Alexandra Lamy as an ex-couple who find themselves drawn together after a family tragedy. The Cinémathèque Québécoise has also mounted a Bonnaire retrospective for the occasion (Nov. 1-4).

Mathieu Kassovitz, whose career is notable for a nearly Orson Welles-like debut at the highest heights (La haine) and subsequent descent to the depths (Babylon 5) returns as both director and star of Rebellion, the true story of a 1988 hostage-taking in the French territory of New Caledonia. Manuel de Oliveira, the Portuguese director still going strong at 103 (!), returns with French-language period family drama Gebo et l’ombre (Gebo and the Shadow). The festival also pays tribute to recently deceased French director Claude Miller, with his last film, Thérèse Desqueyroux, and four of his best-known earlier films (Nov. 2-3).


Do Not Disturb

The fest is heavy with, well, heavy dramas. Among the many choices in this department are Une estonienne à Paris (A Lady in Paris), a story about the immigrant experience in France, with Laine Mâgi and Jeanne Moreau, and Cannes and TIFF fave Augustine, a historical drama centered on the relationship between a doctor and his patient suffering from “hysteria.” It just might be the corrective to the widely panned Hollywood Hysteria on the same topic.

On the lighter side of things, Ludivigne Sagnier plays a free-spirited 60s sexpot, and grande dame Catherine Deneuve is the same character 40 years later, in Cannes closing film Les bien-aimés (Beloved). Do Not Disturb, from director Yvan Attal, stars Attal and François Cluzet in a farce with a similar premise to mumblecore film Humpday, about two straight men who take on a challenge (from Asia Argento and Charlotte Gainsbourg, no less) to make a gay art-porn film. La clinique de l’amour (Sex, Lies and Surgery) is a screwball sendup of TV hospital dramas.

The festival’s closing film, L’Homme qui rit (The Man Who Laughs), is a Victor Hugo adaptation with a strong cast — Gérard Depardieu, our own Marc-André Grondin and up-and-coming actress Christa Theret, who’ll be in town to present this and the two other films she features in, period biopic Renoir and contemporary drama Freeway. ■


Cinemania runs through Nov. 11


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