Tonight, from April 10 to 19, Cinéfranco Festival International du Film Francophone takes over the Bloor Hot Docs Cinema in Toronto.
One of the well-known festivals in the city, Cinéfranco has been bringing us some of the best in Francophone cinema for the past 18 years. This year, there is a vast array of Quebecois films, as well as others from around the globe. With this, I give you my thoughts on two films screeening at the festival this year.
Friday, Apr. 10, 7:00pm
Dir. Stefan Liberski
Synopsis: Twenty year-old Amélie moves to Japan from Belgium in hopes to find her inner Japanese self. She was born in Japan but her parents moved back to Europe while she was still little. Amélie narrates her journey of self-discovery, while we embark on this journey with her.
My thoughts: This quirky and funny film will definitely be a crowd pleaser at Opening Night. Amélie (Pauline Étienne) is a charming and dreamy young woman, who is convinced she is Japanese at heart. After moving to Kapan, she begins to teach French to make a living. It is in this way that she meets Rinri (Taichi Inoue), who becomes her pupil, and soon after, her petit chéri. The relationship between the two is what drives the film. Awkwardness due to language barriers yet funny and caring moments besides the initial limitations, makes this a believable story.
In her reveries, Amélie ponders her relationship with Rinri, her life in Japan, and whether or not her decisions are pushing her in the right direction. The film does contain a bit too many cute moments, if I dare say so. Regardless, it is a rather enjoyable exploration of a cross-cultural relationship and also, about how we view another’s culture when we are enamoured with it.
Monday, April 13, 9:00pm
The Slasher of Tunis / Le Challat du Tunis
Dir. Kaouther Ben Hania
Synopsis: Tunis, summer 2003- With a razorblade, a man on a motorcycle slashes the buttocks of Tunisian women dressed in Western clothes. Is it an urban myth or is it a real story? 10 years later, filmmaker Kaouther Ben Hania wants to solve the mystery.
My thoughts: This documentary takes us on a chase to find out who this famous Challat (slasher) could be. Famous because in a culture where women as seen as second-rate citizens, this man’s actions have become glorified by many. Through interviews with some of the victims, we see how women have limited rights and have to go through great lengths to get their stories across. In this country, even the authorities try to take advantage of the slasher’s victims. Hearing the men talk about the Challat like some kind of hero religious hero really reinforces the idea of little women are seen as individuals, sadly. Yet, this documentary is providing us with material for further discussion. Definitely worth watching and discussing afterwards.
These are two very diffferent films, but there are plenty others screening at Cinéfranco all weekend. I’ll return with another preview soon. For more details on film titles, screening times, and box office info, go to 2015.cinefranco.com. All film screenings take place at the Bloor Hot Docs Cinema.