Rendez-vous Québec Cinéma

Blood Quantum

Rendez-vous Québec Cinéma showcases the best homegrown films

The 2021 hybrid edition features in-person premieres and a digital program streaming online.

The Rendez-vous Québec Cinéma (RVQC) has always been about celebrating the previous year in local cinema, which means its programming has pretty much always consisted of a mix of films that had already seen release in the previous calendar year and premieres of films that were about to come out. In 2021, however, the programming takes on a whole new dimension. With the spotty open-closed status of movie theatres over the past year, many local films went underseen or entirely unseen until the RVQC, which begins streaming online today.

RVQC 2021
Souterrain (RVQC 2021)

It’s the case for Sophie Dupuis’s Souterrain, which came very close to a release twice before being pulled — first because of last summer’s total cinema closure, and again this month due to the curfew severely limiting the possibility of multiple showtimes. The Chien de garde director takes a look at the world of miners in Abitibi in her second feature, which stars Joakim Robitaille, Théodore Pellerin and James Hyndman. It screens today at Théâtre Maisonneuve as part of the festival’s hybrid screening concept — all films are available online but a mix of premieres and rep screenings will nevertheless be projected at the Quartier Latin at the rate of one per day.

Also premiering this week is Claude Gagnon’s Les vieux chums (April 29), about two old friends (Patrick Labbé and Paul Doucet) who reconnect after one of them reveals he’s terminally ill. Gagnon is currently the subject of a career-ranging retrospective at the Cinémathèque as well. 

RVQC 2021
Québexit (RVQC 2021)

On Saturday, May 1, the festival will screen 19-year-old director Jérémie Picard’s Small Talk, a low-budget romantic drama in the vein of Linklater’s Sunrise / Sunset films that was shot during lockdown last summer.

Lockdown is also a thematic concern in the choral film Première vague, presented online during the duration of the fest. Four directors (Max Dufaud, Rémi Fréchette, Reda Lahmouid and Kevin T. Landry) team up for the film set in the first 100 days of lockdown — a Kino Montréal production.

Beans Rendez-vous Québec Cinéma
Beans (RVQC 2021)

Joshua Demers’ satirical Québexit imagines a world in which Quebec does separate but things rapidly go south due to a pipeline that crosses borders; the film stars Gail Maurice (Trickster) and Alison Louder

The festival closes with Tracey Deer’s (Mohawk Girls) Beans, a coming-of-age story set during the Oka Crisis in the summer of 1990. The film was the second runner-up for the TIFF’s People’s Choice award and also found itself on the Canada’s Top Ten list last year, It screens at Quartier Latin on May 8.

Rounding out the selection of fiction premieres screening in-person is Hygiène sociale, the latest from Denis Côté, and Nulle trace from Simon Lavoie (Le torrent, La petite fille qui aimait trop les allumettes).

Rendez-vous Québec Cinéma
Hygiène sociale (RVQC 2021)

There are also three documentaries screening at the Latin as part of the festival: the suicide-themed Perdre Mario from director Carl Gagnon, En tête de ligne, a documentary about Vidéotron founder André Chagnon co-directed by his granddaughter, and François Pélooquin’s Renaître, which explores the lives of LGBTQIA2+ refugees in Canada.

Other feature-length fiction highlights include Jeff Barnaby’s Blood Quantum, Olivier Godin’s Il n’y a pas de faux métier, Podz’s Mafia Inc.,Pascal Plante’s Nadia Butterfly, Elza Kephart’s killer-pants satire Slaxx and the Josh Hartnett-starring political thriller Target Number One

Rendez-vous Québec Cinéma
Target Number One (RVQC 2021)

RVCQ also offers an extensive shorts program both in the fiction and documentary realms. As RVCQ is one of the pillars of homegrown short screenings throughout the year, the selection is dense and perhaps difficult to give its just desserts in a column like this, but I can point out that there are shorts from Renée Beaulieu (Les salopes ou le sucre naturel de la peau), François Delisle (Chorus, Ca$h Nexu$), Alec Pronovost (Le Killing webseries, also screening in the webseries competition) and Danae Elon (PS Jerusalem), not to mention a ton of student films and retrospective shorts as well. 

Like any film festival, les Rendez-vous Québec Cinéma has a truly extensive program that’s impossible to sum up succinctly — especially if you’re caught in a pandemic year where some films simply passed you by as they did for me. The best way to experience the last year in homegrown cinema, with all of its unusual and less-than-ideal twists and turns, is to simply go with the flow. I certainly will. ■

Les Rendez-vous Québec Cinéma runs from April 28 to May 8. Tickets for in-person screenings and online passports are available on their website.