The Best of Québec Cinema | Film | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

The Best of Québec Cinema

As part of the three-month cultural exchange, the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust and the Québec Government House, in association with Pittsburgh Filmmakers, present a week-long program of recent and classic Québec cinema. The series opens on Fri., March 19, with a pair of satires, and concludes Thu., March 25, with two edgy romantic dramas. All films screen at the Harris Theater, Downtown. Tickets are $6 ($3 for student and seniors). A pass for all screenings is $13. For tickets or more information, call 412-456-666.



Fri., March 19:


LA GRANDE SÉDUCTION. Jean-François Pouliot makes his directorial debut with this ensemble comedy about a small fishing village's attempts to lure a doctor to town in the hopes that a much-needed factory will follow. This film won the Audience Award at this year's Sundance Film Festival. In French with subtitles. 7:30 p.m.


LE DÉCLINE DE L'EMPIRE AMÉRICAN. Set in the lofty world of academia, Denys Arcand's 1986 comedy-drama takes aim at the battle of the sexes. This is the pre-story to Arcand's Academy Award-winning 2003 film, The Barbarian Invasions. In French with subtitles. 9:45 p.m.



Sat., March 20:


LÉOLO. Jean-Claude Lauzon wrote and directed this dark 1993 comedy-drama about Léolo, a young boy in a Montréal slum who slowly slips into fantasy worlds to escape his dysfunctional family and miserable existence. With a score by Tom Waits. In French with subtitles. 5:30 p.m.


THE RED VIOLIN. The romantic adventures of one violin, noted for its superior craftsmanship and unusual red varnish, span four centuries in Francois Giraud's 1998 drama that relates the beauty, desire and obsession that can accompany music. Giraud uses a contemporary auction and a 17th-century fortune-telling as framing devices to unspool the violin's history (and its potential future), concentrating on four episodes: the violin's difficult birth in Italy; its encounters with a musical prodigy in 18th-century Vienna and a possessed Victorian-era English composer; and lastly the instrument's uneasy time during China's Cultural Revolution. In English and various languages with subtitles. 8 p.m. Three cameras



Sun., March 21:


BACH AND BROCCOLI. Ten-year-old orphaned Fanny is sent to Montréal to live with her uptight bachelor uncle, who is training for a Bach organ recital. With her youthful enthusiasm and increasing menagerie of stray pets (including the titular Broccoli, a de-scented skunk), Fanny becomes quite the disruption. There are few surprises in this 1987 family film from André Melançon, but as Fanny, Mahee Paiement is engaging without being too cute, and her natural feistiness will appeal to younger female viewers. Dubbed in English. 3 p.m. Two cameras


NÔ. Set in 1970 during the Québec separatist movement, Robert Lepage's 1998 political satire cuts between activists at home and a troupe of Montréal actors who are staging a Feydeau farce in Japan at the World's Fair. In French with subtitles. 5:30 p.m.



Mon., March 22:


MON ONCLE ANTOINE. Claude Jutra's 1971 coming-of-age story is highly regarded north of the border as a classic of Canadian cinema. It's set in a backwoods asbestos-mine town in the 1940s, where teen-aged Benoit (Jacques Gagnon) and his uncle Antoine (Jean Duceppe) head an ensemble cast, most of whom, in the tradition of small towns, hang about Antoine's general store. In the week before Christmas, Benoit has small but significant encounters with sexuality, death and the complicated nature of human beings. Jutra's film unfolds slowly through a series of vignettes -- some notable for their everyday aimlessness, others more dramatic, but never more so than occur in any ordinary life. If Benoit's awakening is one thread running through the film, Jutra's exposition of the region's harsh and dangerous life, tempered with Gallic fatalism, is another. In French with subtitles. Three cameras


UN 32 AOÛT SUR TERRE. In this off-beat 1998 road movie from Denis Villeneuve, two lovers set off from Montréal en route to the Utah desert on the imaginary date of August 32. In French with subtitles.


The double feature of Mon Oncle Antoine and Un 32 Août sur Terre starts at 7:30 p.m.



Tue., March 23:


2 SECONDES. A young female bicyclist bobbles her pro career, and moves to Montréal, where she becomes a bike messenger and befriends an old man who was once a champion cyclist. Manon Briand directed this 1998 romantic sports drama. In French with subtitles.


CLANDESTINS. Six immigrants -- two men, two women and two children of various nationalities -- make an arduous and stressful journey from France to Canada, hidden and confined to a shipping container. Denis Chouinard directed this harrowing drama. In French with subtitles.


The double feature of 2 Secondes and Clandestins starts at 7:30 p.m.



Wed., March 24:


UN CRABE DANS LA TÊTE. A diving accident beaches an acclaimed underwater photographer in Montréal, where his brain injury propels him into a new please-all personality. Former cinematographer André Turpin directed, wrote and shot this quirky 2001 character study. In French with subtitles.


COSMOS. Each of six young Canadian directors -- Jennifer Alleyn, Manon Briand, Marie-Julie Dallaire, Arto Paragamian, André Turpin and Denis Villeneuve -- helms a segment of this 1996 day-in-the-life about several young Montréal residents. Shot in moody black and white, the stories intersect loosely through Cosmos, a Greek immigrant cab driver and streetwise philosopher. It's something of a hoary gimmick, and indeed, most of the stories feel artificial -- two ex-lovers reunite at a trial and get in a argument about breast implants, a nervous filmmaker freaks out at an Internet TV studio -- or well-worn, like the wacky gay man who fiddles madly rather than submit to an HIV test. One story about an unidentified man engaged in the seemingly ordinary activities of clothes-shopping and apartment-hunting is shot with verve and plays out in unexpected ways, but overall the film feels self-conscious and dated. In French with subtitles. Two cameras



The double feature of Un Crabe dans la Tête and Cosmos starts at 7:30 p.m.


Thu., March 25:


LOST AND DELIRIOUS. For her first English-language film, director Léa Pool adapts Susan Swan's novel, The Wives of Bath, about three teen-age roommates at a boarding school, and their trials and awakenings after two of the three girls break up their giddy love affair. While the film ultimately strays into obvious melodrama and overplays a metaphor or two, Pool exhibits a quiet restraint overall, never sensationalizing the film's sexual aspect and remaining sensitive to the desperate turmoil of adolescence. Two and a half cameras


POST MORTEM. Louis Belanger wrote and directed this gritty and unusually themed melodrama about two fringe dwellers in Montréal. Though Belanger employs a nonlinear structure that occasionally intercuts the two separate narratives, he first tells the story of Linda (Sylvie Moreau), a single mother who engages in the dangerous practice of robbing men she picks up. The film's second segment relates an eventful night in the otherwise uneventful life of loner Ghislain (Gabriel Arcand), who works the night shift at the morgue. How these two stray souls meet -- and the curious consequences of it -- comprise Post Mortem's final third. In French with subtitles. Two and a half cameras


The double feature of Lost and Delirious and Post Mortem starts at 7:30 p.m.

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