Fourth annual Vancouver French Film Festival gears up

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      Because of the Vancouver International Film Festival’s Spotlight on France program and the annual Rendez-vous du cinéma québécois et francophone, it sometimes seems as if French-language movies have been magically spared the short shrift that subtitled features usually receive in this city. But appearances can be deceiving. Most days, if the Pacific Cinémathí¨que or the Vancity International Film Centre isn’t holding some kind of Gallic retrospective, those in search of something Hexagonal are merde out of luck. Except in the summer, that is, and that’s largely thanks to Leonard Schein and his annual Vancouver French Film Festival, the fourth edition of which is now gearing up.

      As for the origins of this relatively recent tradition: “Some time ago, there were a number of really good French films that distributors had no intentions of showing in Vancouver, because they didn’t want to spend money on advertising, so they mainly played them in Quebec,” Schein explained to the Straight. “So I said, ”˜What if we packaged them together as a marketing tool? Then would you play them?’ They agreed to give it a try. That was four years ago, and the first three summer festivals were so successful, we’re doing it again.

      “We try not to show films just because they’re from France,” he added. “We want a certain quality.”

      The 2010 lineup seems particularly promising. It opens with Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s Micmacs (pitched in the key of a slightly darker Amélie), followed by Jan Kounen’s Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky (starring up-and-coming Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen). The fest also features Alain Resnais’s 2009 Cannes entry, Wild Grass (which, like most of this perennial master’s recent work, is intensely theatrical in nature), and concludes with Farewell, an espionage drama from Christian Carion (the actor-director who played a minor role in Guillaume Canet’s Tell No One, the summer festival’s biggest commercial success thus far). Each film will run for two weeks at the Ridge Theatre, from Friday (June 11) to August 5.