While Festival du Nouveau Cinema is not known for showcasing a large number of world premieres, the Focus section is always the exception. Taking a look at Quebec and Canadian features, films large and small are allowed space to find an audience. The section consistently features a large number of adventurous first time filmmakers, making their debut in the feature length format. Let’s have a look at five films in particular that are not to be missed.
Directed by Jimmy Larouche
Larouche has already made his mark on the FNC, with his feature length debut La Cicatrice in 2012. In a year particularly rich with great Quebec cinema, La Cicatrice was still able to stand out from the crowd, and Larouche’s follow-up film has been eagerly awaited every since. Making its world premiere, Antoine et Marie takes focus on the relationship between the titular characters. Together for three years, Marie finds herself going out with her male colleagues, flirting and pushing the boundaries of her own relationship. Still she never cheats on her boyfriend. One morning she wakes up with no recollection of the night before, only to find out weeks later that she is pregnant. Tackling the dark world of date rape, Antoine et Marie will challenge perspectives and sensibilities as it showcases a woman’s journey to find her aggressors. The film has a strong visual edge and showcases Larouche’s hometown of Alma to beautiful effect.
Directed by Pascal Plante
While you may not immediately recognize his name, Pascal Plante is no stranger to the Festival du Nouveau Cinema, having contributed to Les Jaunes, a web-series of great acclaim that had a panel at last year’s industry event. Les Jaunes, along with La Génération Porn, are produced under Nemesis Films, a production company assembling some of the brightest young talents Québec cinema has to offer. La Génération Porn will be Plante’s first feature length film working as a director and writer. The film sets itself up as a portrait of millennial youths, the “porn generation”, in conversation and in conflict. The story of a group of four childhood friends reunited for a four day binge of excesses and debauchery, before they must come to terms with reality and forge a new path in life. Blending the line between fact and fiction, the script catered greatly to improvisation and relied on the natural chemistry of the leads. If the best Quebec films of the year so far, Stephane Lafleur’s Tu dors Nicole and Xavier Dolan’s Mommy catered to aimless and frustrated youths, there is little doubt that Plante’s film will only serve to further that conversation.
Directed by Rafaël Ouellet
One of the rising talents of Quebec cinema, Rafaël Ouellet is a filmmaker never to be missed. While he made a real smash with his 2012 film Camion, he has been consistently working for nearly a decade, offering his unique perspective on relationships and Quebec life. With Gurov and Anna, Ouellet tackles some familiar themes and ideas – revisiting ideas of alienation and intimacy. The story of an aspiring writer, Ben, bored with his life and his relationship, he stumbles across a short story by Chekhov, The Lady with the Dog, about a 40-something banker’s affair with a young married woman. As life comes to imitate art, Ben begins an affair with one of his students in his writing class. The film examines the consequences of desire and lust, and takes the audience on an unnerving journey with two troubled characters. While the film will make its world premiere at the Busan International Film Festival, this will be the local premiere for the film. Gurov et Anna is also notably Ouellet’s first English-language project.
Directed by Albert Shin
A Canadian-Korean co-production, In Her Place is a tense drama about the relationship of three Korean women from different worlds. A widow and her pregnant daughter live together on a small farm. A wealthy couple from the city show up and are interested in adopting the child. This offers huge opportunity to the widow and her teenage daughter, offering them a rare chance to overcome their social standing. Tensions quickly rise though, as the two families clash over their differences in class, age, and wealth. This is the second feature length film from director Albert Shin, after his 2009 debut Point Traverse. In Her Place has already been making festival rounds, having screened at TIFF and the San Sebastian Film Festival. It has received some acclaim, mostly for its tense atmosphere, focus on women and its moral ambiguity.
Directed by Harold Crooks
Harold Crooks has already made a strong name for himself in the realm of documentary activism, having worked on The Corporation as a writer and as co-director on Surviving Progress. With The Price we Pay, Crooks tackles the convoluted world of tax evasion, an issue that guards trillions of dollars in profits by large-scale corporations from taxes. The film charts the history of the practise, up until the present day, exploring the consequences of the practise on society. To devastating effect, the film explores how mega-scale tax evasion has shaped the global economy and undermined the authority of the state. The film will be presented at the festival in collaboration with Cinema Politica and Liberté: Art & Politique.