For the 24th year, Maidy Teitelbaum and her enthusiastic team are presenting movies from the French speaking world subtitled in English as part of the Cinemania Festival. For the first time, films will be not only be shown at the classic Cinema Imperial, but also at; Outremont theatre, Cinéma du Musée, Cinéma du Parc and the Cinémathèque québécoise.
The evening started with a wonderful red carpet event and cocktail. It was very well attended by media, Quebec and International stars (David La Haye, Sophie Desmarais, Olivier Gourmet — who received a special prize), as well as representative from various countries, the consul general of France and Switzerland, among others.
The opening film was introduced by one of the stars, Vincent Macaigne. In a very relaxed atmosphere, he spoke to the large crowd with some hilarious translation faux-pas mixed in for good measure.
The opening film, Double Lives (original title Non-Fiction) is about the lives of a group of Parisian intellectual elite struggling with life in modern times. The cast is first rate and includes international super stars Juliette Binoche and Guillaume Canet, with a special mention as well to a stand-out performance by Nora Hamzawi (as a clear-eyed wife) and Christa Théret (as much more than the naïve, young assistant). Discussions about the perils of the internet and its effects on traditional literature, news making, and “fake news” were central themes as the principal characters are a writer and his publicist. These scenes were often long and very wordy but well worth the message.
Another central theme is the messy but very real lives of the characters. All are in various relationships, including marriage with long-term infidelity with the partners of very good friends. The contrast of the pragmatism of the youngest character (an assistant who’s having an affair with her male boss as well as an intimate relationship with a female companion) is not only mirrored in her romantic liaisons but her various dialogues about the reality of how people want to consume information today.
The older generation, including a very frustrated writer who is in an complicated marriage as well as a 6 year affair with his publisher’s wife, seems stuck in a constant battle to be a part of the new reality of technology while reminiscing about the huge hard cover novel that he’d prefer to take on holiday rather than download it on their tablets.
A refreshing change is that the principal female characters (the two wives and the lover of the principal male characters) are far more lucid and frank than the typical portrayal of the hysterical shrew seen in many French films. For instance, when the husband of one of the principal female characters admits to having a long term affair with the couple’s good friend, rather than the the common-place object throwing and screams, she replies, without skipping a beat, “And, so? You think that I didn’t know. You’ve told the whole world about your affairs in your books. You think that I wouldn’t notice?”
All in all, a good film and a stellar event.
The Cinemania Festival runs until November 11th, 2018.