Highlights of the upcoming RVCQ film fest

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Misericorde 2

Evelyne Brochu (right) on the set of Miséricorde

Les Rendez-vous du cinéma québécois has more or less imposed itself as the deepest and most exhaustive showcase of local cinema imaginable. While local productions do compose a certain percentage of the programming in other festivals, it’s the RVCQ’s bread-and-butter. There are no fewer than 340 local productions screening at this year’s festival, which runs from Feb. 22 to March 4 in venues located in and around Quartier Latin (Berri-UQAM metro). Of those 340 films, 244 are shorts, 111 are premieres, 46 are features, 36 are documentary premieres and every single one of them is homegrown.

Getting out of stats for a second, the features are presented in three separate sections. Nouveaux regards has 17 films from first-time directors, Horizons showcases English-language productions and international co-productions, while the Incontournables section screens the critical and box office darlings of the year. The festival also touts the much-anticipated premiere of Ca sent la coupe, a Habs-centric dramedy starring stand-up comedian Louis-José Houde that will open the fest on Feb. 22 before hitting theatres on Feb. 24. Amongst other films screening at the RVCQ that have yet to see a theatrical release are the Italian co-production Miséricorde (starring BOM fave Évelyne Brochu); Robin Aubert’s TukTuq, in which the actor/director stars as a cameraman sent to Nunavut to capture images for the government; and Yes, a feature documentary by Babel Films’ Eric Piccoli and Félix Rose.

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Two Lovers and a Bear

The festival is also presenting retrospective screenings of three bonafide local classics, co-presented by Montreal’s 375th anniversary: Charles Binamé’s Maurice Richard, Jean-Claude Lauzon’s Léolo and Denys Arcand’s Jésus de Montréal. The festival’s outreach also encompasses a screening at the Maison du père shelter; director Louis Bélanger and actor/screenwriter Alexis Martin will comment throughout a screening of their 2016 film Les mauvaises herbes. And that’s just one of a number of screenings of hit local films from the past year — if you missed them in theatres, this is your chance to catch Juste la fin du monde, Pays, Embrasse-moi comme tu m’aime, Déserts, Écartée, 1:54, Avant les rues, Boris Sans Béatrice, Mon ami Dino, King Dave, Le rang du lion, Prank, Two Lovers and a Bear and many more.

The documentary features section also offers a cross-section of what Quebec had to offer over the past year, mixed in with premieres. You can catch acclaimed docs like Callshop Istanbul, Chez les géants, Le goût d’un pays, Stone Story, We Can’t Make the Same Mistake Twice, Roger d’Astous and Waseskun alongside premieres of films like Marie-Ève Nadeau’s À peau d’homme, about a modern-day fur trader; Annabel Loyola’s Le dernier souffle, au coeur de l’Hôtel-Dieu de Montréal (about the forthcoming closure of the hospital at the foot of the mountain); Marie-Pierre Grenier’s It’s Alright Michel, about an octogenarian trans man; Danae Elon’s The Patriarch’s Room, about a disgraced patriarch of the Greek Orthodox Church and his life after being stripped of his duties; Félix Lamarche’s Les terres lointaines, about the daily grind of sailors, and more.

Bon Cop Bad Cop 2

Colm Feore in Bon Cop Bad Cop 2

RVCQ also boasts an incredible line-up of shorts, both documentary and fiction, as well as a vast program of conferences and film-related activities. Robin Aubert will sit in on a discussion of his upcoming, highly anticipated zombie film Les affamés alongside actress Monia Chokri and producer Stéphanie Morrissette. Mismatched buddy cops Colm Feore and Patrick Huard will be back on cinema screens this year with Bon Cop Bad Cop 2; they join director Alain Desrochers in a discussion about the upcoming action film. Five masterclasses are also planned with directors Podz and Dominic Gagnon, art director André-Line Beauparlant, actress Anne Dorval and the visual effects team behind Arrival.

Each day of RVCQ will end with a late night party, with musical contributions from Rednext Level and DJ sets from Karim Ouellet, King Abid, Erik Faulkner and Alfred Borden; a reading of the stage adaptation of Vincent Biron’s Prank; improv led by Alaclair Ensemble’s Ogden Robert Nelson and his Punch Club project and a cabaret night hosted by Jean-Sébastien Girard. The RVCQ’s last day coincides with Nuit Blanche, and the festival has partnered up with Fantasia to celebrate the golden years of “maple syrup porn,” a period of the early ’70s when Quebec’s cinematic output consisted mostly of broad, raunchy comedies. ■

For more information about les Rendez-vous du cinéma québécois, visit the festival’s website.

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