26 August, 2010

Montreal Kicks Off Busy Festival Season

by Sandy Mandelberger, North American Editor

The calendar may still say August, but the busy Fall film festival season kicks off in earnest in Montreal later this week as the Montreal World Film Festival (MWFF) will celebrate its 34th edition. The Festival, one of the only FIAPF A-Class film festivals in North America, is the first in a marathon that will take film buffs and professionals to film events in Toronto, Venice, San Sebastian, New York, Woodstock, Deauville and Chicago (just to name a prominent few).

The MWFF, still helmed by the controversial Serge Losique, is a bastion of international arthouse cinema, with a special emphasis on French language pics and homegrown Quebec talents. Appropriately, festivities kick off on Thursday evening, August 26, with the world premiere of ROUTE 132, directed by local filmmaker Louis Bélanger.

As one of the key outposts of French culture in North America, the city is obviously a little French film crazy, and this is evidenced by the strong representation at the Festival of Gallic films and personalities, as well as strong French language titles from Belgium, Switzerland, Quebec and Africa.

In a bookend that accentuates the "francophone" nature of the event, the Closing Night Film on Labor Day Monday, September 6 is the International Premiere of THE PRINCESS OF MONTPESIER by the iconic French director Bertrand Tavernier. The film, set in 16th century France, is an epic re-telling of the Protestant/Catholic conflicts. The film stars Lambert Wilson, Mélanie Thierry, Grégoire Leprince-Ringuet, Gaspard Ulliel and Raphaël Personnaz.

French film stars are "de rigeur" in Montreal, so the crowds will obviously be stoked by the presence of such superstars as Gerard Depardieu, who will offer a master class on acting, and Nathalie Baye, who will receive a Lifetime Achievement Award and a mini-retrospective of her most important films over a career that now spans over three decades.

French films are prominent in all the sections of this year's Festival. France is well represented in the main Competition Section, with such buzz titles as THREE-WAY WEDDING (director Jacques Doillon), starring Pascal Greggory, Julie Depardieu and Louis Garrel; NANNERI, MOZART'S SISTER (Rene Ferret), which views the Mozart family from an unsual angle; TETE DE TURC (Pascal Elbé), about a young teenager trapped in the violence of the suburbs; MEETING WITH AN ANGEL (Sophie de Daruvar and Yves Thomas) with actors Isabelle Carré and Sergi Lopez starring as a couple whose dominanant/submissive relationship is turned on its head; and the French-Gabon co-production LOST HERITAGE by Christian Lara.

The Competition also includes prominent films from Europe, Asia and the United States.....of which will be written in the coming days. Visit this blog site often for updates or log on to the Festival's own website: The excitement is building as Montreal begins its annual love affair with international cinema.

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