As is the case with every other festival in these pandemic times, Cinemania has had to adapt to the new normal. This year’s edition, which runs from Nov. 4 to Nov. 22, will happen entirely online with a rental system. Cinemania will function slightly differently from other local fests in that films are still subject to a “schedule” of sorts, with three to five films being made available for a 48-hour period on a given day. That means that you don’t have to catch your particular selection exactly when it begins, but also that you have a fairly limited window of time before it expires. The schedule is set up, however, for nearly every film to be shown twice.
Opening the festival this year is Ivorian director Philippe Lacôte’s La nuit des rois, a prison drama about a young thief who is sent to prison in Abidjan. The Quebec co-production screens on Wednesday and again at the very end of the festival.
In terms of established filmmakers with films premiering at the festival, you could do worse than Michel Hazanavicius (The Artist), whose most recent film Le prince oublié screens on Nov. 13 and Nov. 21. Omar Sy stars as a father who tells his preteen daughter elaborate bedtime stories each night. Hazanavicius returns to the world of silver-screen fabulism in what kinda, honestly, sounds like a variation on the Adam Sandler family film Bedtime Stories. Anne Fontaine (Gemma Bovery, Coco Avant Chanel) directs Sy in Police (Nov. 8 and Nov. 22) — not to be confused with Poliss, another cop melodrama from an actress-turned-director. Maiwenn, director of the aforementioned Poliss, stars in Soeurs, an autobiographical drama from Yamina Benguigui.
François Civil and Ana Girardot star in Deux moi (Nov. 10 and Nov. 19), a rom-com “for our modern times” (aka I bet it has a lot of Tinder jokes) from Cédric Klapisch (L’auberge espagnole, Un air de famille). Isabelle Huppert stars in La daronne (which has a much more evocative English title: Mama Weed), a crime saga about an unlikely drug kingpin from Jean-Paul Salomé (Belphégor: Le fantôme du louvre), which screens on Nov. 11 and Nov. 21. The ever-productive François Ozon returns with Été 85, a queer love story set in (when else) 1985 that screens on Nov. 7 and Nov. 13. Actor-director Yvan Attal returns with Mon chien stupide
(Nov. 4 and Nov. 14), a dark comedy adapted from a book by John Fante; Charlotte Gainsbourg co-stars. Lucas Belveaux (This Is Our Land) directs Gérard Depardieu and Catherine Frot in Des hommes (Nov. 6 and 20), a war film set during the Algerian War of Independence.
As always, Cinemania reserves part of its programming for Quebec productions. Jean-Carl Boucher’s Flashwood (Nov. 7) was sort of lost in the shuffle of cinema closures earlier this year. Shot over several years, it stars a who’s-who of up-and-coming young Quebec stars. Claudia Ferri, Raia Hadar and Jean-Nicolas Verreault star in La face cachée du baklava (Nov. 8 and Nov. 19), a comedy from director Maryanne Zéhil (L’autre côté de Novembre). Neegan Trudel makes his directorial debut with Vacarme (Nov. 10 and Nov. 16), a drama about a teen who hopes to get out of her troubled situation by learning an instrument; Sophie Desmarais and Kelly Depeault star alongside newcomer Rosalie Pépin.
Louis Bélanger is Cinemania’s guest of honour for this year’s edition, meaning that most of his films (including rare shorts and documentaries) will be available to stream for the duration of the festival.
Noémie Merlant (Portrait de la jeune femme en feu) and singer Soko star in A Good Man (Nov. 8 and Nov. 19), about a trans man who decides to become pregnant after his partner turns out to be unable to have children. Emmanuelle Béart returns to the screen after an eight-year absence in L’étreinte (Nov. 8 and Nov. 17), an intimate drama about grief.
Noée Abita (who was first discovered in Ava in 2017 but is more likely familiar to Quebec audiences for her starring role in Philippe Lesage’s Genèse) stars in two Cinemania selections this year: Slalom (Nov. 9 and Nov. 21), a sports drama that was selected for Cannes earlier this year, also starring Jérémie Rénier as a ski coach who becomes obsessed with his protégé’s (Abita) victory, and Mes jours de gloire (Nov. 6 and Nov. 17), a comedy about a struggling actor who moves back in with his parents. ■
For more programming details and to rent films, please visit the Cinemania website.
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