This was my first time attending this festival that celebrates films that come out of la belle province (in either official language) and was quite impressed. I was impressed by the number of good/great films that Quebec produces. It has been a banner year for Quebec cinema even though we were told with much wringing of hands that the province has made less money off the film industry because fewer 'big' (i.e. American) films were shot here. I am here to tell those who wrote that, those who read it and those who believed it that bigger isn't necessarily better. We were blessed with a glut of quality films this year that were made by Quebec filmmakers, such as Congorama, Bon Cop, Bad Cop, The Danish Poet, Un Dimanche A Kigali, and Cheech. Congorama was shown at the prestigious Cannes film festival and the animated short The Danish Poet just won an Oscar for Best Animated Short. It has been a good year!
Les Rendez-vous du Cinéma Québécois offered us the marvellous chance of seeing all these films in one festival and the opportunity to realize that we do good work here…even if we don't have half the budget of large Hollywood films. A good film communicates with its audience about things that are important to human beings; film is an art form that depicts what it is to be human in the form of celluloid. The films in Les Rendez-vous covered topics as varied as love, pickles, hockey, family, murder, and revenge. There was something for everyone and all film tastes.
Eight awards were given out on the closing weekend of the festival which made several filmmakers quite happy. First up was Le Prix Pierre et Yoland Perrault du meilleur espoir documentaire which gave a prize of $5,000 to the director of a first or second documentary. The winner was Annie Saint-Pierre for her film Migration Amoureuse about persons of different countries falling in love and the issue of visas. A special mention was made to Josephine Mackay for Irène au Coeur de Lion. The second award handed out was Le Prix à la création artistique du Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec pour la meilleure œuvre d'art et d'expérimentation and it was awarded to Manon Labreque and Martin Tétreault for Actions (9), a short film that looked at the act of touching. Next up was le prix OFQJ/Rendez-vous pour la meilleure œuvre étudiante which was awarded to Concordia graduate Anna Sikorski for her film A Troublesome Desire. Le prix annuel de la foundation Alex et Ruth Dworkin pour la promotion de la tolérance à travers la cinéma was given to Marie-Julie Dallaire for Notre Père, a documentary that gave us plenty of insight into the Montreal icon that is "Pops" (Father Emmett John) – the man behind Dans La Rue. This year's Prix de la Publique was a tie between Philippe Falardeau for Congorama and Rafael Ouellet for Le Cèdre Penché. Quebec critics gave their Prix de l'association québécoise des critiques de cinéma for short and medium-length films to Mathieu Fontaine for Terreur au 3918 and special mention to Mathieu Grondin for Screen Test: Karen Elkin. The award for short and medium-length documentaries went to Bashir Bensaddek for Portrait de Dame par un Groupe with special mention going to Danic Champoux for Caporal Mark. The critics' award for feature-length film went to Philippe Falardeau for Congorama.
After taking in four wonderful films at this year's festival you can be sure that I will be back for next years as I won't want to miss the best of what Quebec has to offer filmwise!