Sunday, 4 April 2010

Cinéfranco 2010 Day 9 - Saturday April 3, 2010

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Cinéfranco 2010 came to a close yesterday with another stellar day of Francophone film, and it was a day of copro's including France/Belgium and France/Switzerland including films set in France including La journée de la jupe / Skirt Day and Complices / Partners as well as Belgium with Les barons / The Barons for which principle actor Nader Boussandel was in attendance to introduce the film as well as stay for a Q&A.

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La journée de la jupe / Skirt Day
Dir: Jean-Paul Lilienfeld
Cast: Isabelle Adjani, Denis Podalydès, Yann Collette, Nathalie Besançon, Marc Citti, Yann Ebonge, Sarah Douali, Khalid Berkouz, Sonia Amori, Kévin Azaïs
France/Belgium

I've always been a fan of films about teachers. The most common type is inspiration teacher films of the feel-good vein, but La journée de la jupe / Skirt Day is a completely different type of teacher film. One where the teacher has to shout, fight and restrain fear from her students day in, day out, until the situation takes an unexpectedly changes and changes everything. The build up of tension resonates quickly and assuredly creating a volatile environment that quickly illuminates everything from power struggles and control to racial tensions and gender stereotypes as they bubble to the surface. Centred by a formidable performance from Isabelle Adjani as Sonia Bergerac, it's not surprized that she's won multiple awards for her role here including the 2010 César for Best Actress / Meilleure actrice. A fascinating character study, comment on society and overall extremely powerful drama.

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Les barons / The Barons
Dir: Nabil Ben Yadir
Cast: Nader Boussandel, Mourade Zeguendi, Julien Courbey, Monir Ait Hamou, Édouard Baer, Amelle Chahbi
France/Belgium

Les barons / The Barons was one of the films I was most looking forward to see at the festival, as the concept of thinking of life giving you a limited amount of 'step credits' and therefore not in a rush to get anywhere, sounded pretty hilarious to me. The film uses this idea of not being in a hurry not only as a great outlet for comedy but also gracefully incorporates exploring the concept dramatically as well. Sure, going nowhere sounds good today - but what are the long term effects? How long can you keep it up and how does that effect those around you? Will opportunities pass you by? What happens when you change your habits and patterns? It's a fascinating exploration that is showcased through a fantastic performances by the central characters of The Barons Hassan (Nader Boussandel), Mounir (Mourade Zeguendi) and Aziz. The dynamic between the three is a highlight of the film, their comfort level with each other, the friendly banter, how they support each other and of course the awkwardness if they even begin to think of drifting apart.

There was also an almost Bollywood feel to the film that you can even get from the poster (see above), although is didn't have a super long running time or any musical numbers, but it did incorporate a rather sizable cast of characters, adeptly fit in an impressive amount of comedy, drama and even romance all into the film. There also were some cultural & gender dynamics that I didn't see eye-to-eye with, but it's refreshingly open about the subject which I greatly appreciated. Overall, it was a lot of fun and had a lot of heart. One of my favourites of the festival.

Principle actor Nader Boussandel was in attendance at the screening and there for a Q&A and I'll post vids of the Q&A soon.

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Les barons / The Barons actor Nader Boussandel

Complices / Partners
Dir: Frédéric Mermoud
Cast: Gilbert Melki, Cyril Descours, Nina Meurisse, Emmanuelle Devos, Jérémy Kapone
France/Switzerland

What a refreshing turn to see a crime/thriller that has in it's midst a rather gentle love story. That's a new one in my book. Although, getting back to the 'crime/thriller' aspect it makes the love story hit a tragic tone, but again does this in a gentle and very open way. The film follows several subtle pairs of partners that are relate back to a crime, and I was impressed with how nicely the film unfolded with great pacing allowing all the characters and relationships to develop naturally overtime. There were fantastic performances all around but I was particularly impressed by the younger actors in the film including Cyril Descours (who played Victor) and Nina Meurisse (as Rebecca) who always keep the heart of the film close to the heart of the audience.

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Cinéfranco 2010 ran from March 26 - April 3, 2010 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada

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