This has been a busy and rewarding year for Cinemania president and founder, Maidy Teitelbaum. Earlier this year she was awarded the prestigious rank of Chevalier de L'Ordre from France and this fall her pride and joy, Cinemania, had another successful year. Her dedication to film and the French language was recognized and rewarded here and abroad.
The festival moved to larger digs at the Imperial Theatre and Montrealers turned up in larger numbers than ever. Teitelbaum and managing director Genevieve Royer were able to bring interesting and high quality French language films to Montrealers with the added bonus of subtitles in English so no one missed out. Many of the 29 films screened this year were previously presented at Cannes, Venice or Sundance so the quality certainly wasn't lacking. A large portion of the films were making their North American or Canadian premiere here and it gives us the chance to see them before anyone else on the continent. The festival attracted great guests in the form of directors Lisa Azeulos, Eric Caravaca, Philippe Collin, Nicole Garcia, and Santiago Amigorena. Unfortunately actress Isild le Besco took ill and could not attend as she had planned, but Montrealers welcomed with open arms high profile actress Juliet Binoche, who took time out of her busy filming schedule to fly into our city for one day to present her film "Quelques Jours en Septembre", which opened the festival. We were also treated to four of the wonderful films of Polish director Krzysztof Kieslowski with a retrospective presented of his work on the tenth anniversary of his death.
Director Lisa Azeulos' efforts to attend the festival did not go unrewarded as her film "Comme T'y Es Belle!" won the Mel Hoppenheim Prix du Public 2006 (a $5,000 prize). This award goes to the film which the public voted as their favourite. It was obvious from attendance (almost 1,000 persons at each of the two screenings) that the film came in with a good buzz and did not disappoint those who braved the rainy weather we have been having to go see it. Last year's winner of this prize, "Va, Vis et Deviens", was granted a wide release after winning, so I hope the same is true of Azeulos' film as it was a funny and insightful one that more people should have the opportunity to see.
Cinemania started off as a niche festival aimed towards a particular section of the Montreal population. With the hard efforts and dedication of Teitelbaum and her staff it has become one of the more high profile film festivals in Montreal. Teitelbaum has taken films that were inaccessible and made them available for all to enjoy. Bravo Maidy!