Rendez-Vous du Cinéma Québécois et Francophone brings French-language cinema to Vancouver

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      Quebec films regularly impress film critics nationwide. Not to mention box office watchers of the domestic film charts, by often outperforming Anglo competition.

      Unfortunately for us West Coasters, many of them don't get theatrical runs here in B.C., with nary a chance to see them outside the Vancouver International Film Festival.

      As luck would have it, the 18th annual Rendez-vous du cinema québécois et francophone (which runs from February 16 to 26) gives us a chance to enjoy films from Quebec, and French-language films from around the world, on this side of the country (as well as a chance to practice the French you learned in high school, beyond just reading the flipside of the cereal box).

      A look at the longrunning career of celebrated French auteur Claude Lelouch kicks the festival off tonight (February 16, 7:30 p.m.). In a career that spanned about half a century, Lelouch made over 50 films, including the musical Les uns et les autres, documentaries, comedies, drama, thrillers, and more. The anthology documentary D'un film à l'autre (From One Film to Another) features clips from Lelouch's work (including his 1966 film Un homme et une femme, which won two Oscar awards), interviews, and behind-the-scenes footage.

      Several other documentaries grace the festival, including quite a few that shed light on significant Québécois figures. Falardeau (February 19, 4:30 p.m.) profiles the controversial Pierre Falardeau, who devoted himself to Quebec sovereignty. Godin (February 18, 5:15 p.m.) examines the life of Quebec poet and politician Gérald Godin through such events as the 1995 Referendum and the 1970 October Crisis.

      In the world of the arts, there's Mort subite d'un homme-théâtre (February 20, 6:30 p.m.), about Robert Gravel, who cofounded Théâtre Expérimental de Montréal and Ligue National d'Improvisation and highly influenced Quebec modern theatre, and Over My Dead Body (February 23, 8:30 p.m.), about dancer and choreographer Dave St-Pierre, who has cystic fibrosis and only two years left to live—unless he gets a lung transplant.

      Other documentaries cover subjects as diverse as female bellydancers in Cairo (La nuit, ells dansent [At Night, They Dance], February 19, 9 p.m.), the international explosion of yoga (Planet Yoga, February 25, 2:30 and 6:30 p.m.), how Canada's mining industry garners massive profits at the expense of the environment and the health of their workers (Trou Story [The Hole Story], February 17, 7 p.m.), and Chinese girls adopted by Québécois parents (On me prend pour une Chinoise [They Think I'm Chinese], February 21, 6:30 p.m.).

      If you missed Ken Scott's crowd-pleasing Quebec comedy-drama Starbuck (February 19, 6:30 p.m.), about a sperm donor who discovers he's the father of 533 children, or Canada's main shot at an Oscar this year, Monsieur Lazhar (February 26, 7 p.m.), now's your chance.

      Other titles include Man Without a Cell Phone, a Palestinian-Israeli comedy about how an olive-farming father's attempt to remove an Israeli cell phone tower wreaks havoc on his son's dates with Muslim, Christian, and Jewish girls, and Marécages (Wetlands), about how a Quebec farming family faces the fallout of an accident, including mourning and dealing with sexual identity.

      There are plenty of other titles to browse though, as well as workshops, special guests, screenings of Quebec and B.C. short films, and more. Visit the website for schedule and full details.

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