Skip to main content

Scared of Foreign Films? Let Cinéfranco Calm Your Fears

Reluctant to try a foreign film? Don't be. Cinéfranco, the international French film festival (March 26th - April 3rd) that will help you ease your fears. I've screened a few of the films and have selected some that I think might be a good fit for first time foreign film viewers. Here's my tip: when you are choosing a film, choose a genre that is close to what you would normally watch in English.







The Coach/Le Coach
Saturday, March 27, 7:30 pm
AMC Yonge/Dundas

I wish I had a different photo for this film because this one doesn't let you know how entertaining this film really is. When a life coach (Chène) with a gambling debt and a soon-to-be ex-wife takes a job secretly coaching the inept nephew (Marmignon) of a large corporation, you know the contrast in characters is going to make for a funny film. What I did not expect is the sweet love story that develops between the bumbling Marmignon and the pretty HR department head.

What makes this film a good choice for a first-timer venturing out to a French film, is the fact that that you know where the film is headed, so there is no need to invest too much thought into “reading” the movie--a complaint I often hear from people who think they don’t like foreign films. The plot may be predictable, but it doesn’t matter because the acting is good, the action is well paced, and the ending is satisfying.

Little Nicholas/Le petit Nicholas
Sunday, March 28, 5:15 pm
AMC Yonge/Dundas
Based on the well-know children’s book by René Goscinny, this picture is a great choice for people who enjoy good storytelling and the innocent, funny ways in which children interpret the adult word around them. The film is narrated by Nicholas and split between his life at school and his life at home with his parents. At school, he is friends with the greedy kid, the kid who gets sent to the corner (a lot), the rich kid, and several others-but not the brainy kid who he wishes he could beat up, but can’t because “he wears glasses”; at home, Nicholas gets along with his parents (a father who is trying to get a raise, and a mother who is trying to impress his boss’s wife) but this soon changes when he thinks he is about to get a baby brother! A classmate told Nicholas that his baby brother was a result of his Papa doing chores around the house without his Maman asking him to. When Nicholas sees his father taking out the garbage, he panics because he knows the next step will be his mother going to the hospital and bringing home a baby. He thinks they will no longer need him and that they will abandon him in the woods. Desperate to avert this disaster, Nicholas and his chums come up with some ingenious schemes that I won’t give away; suffice it to say that a “hit man” is involved. This family film had me laughing out loud—and I was watching it by myself!


Africorama
Monday, March 29, 7:00 pm
AMC Yonge/Dundas
Dairy farmer, Nicholas Montcalm, a gym teacher, Édith Monpetit, and a mental health worker, Caroline Sangaré journey from Québec to different parts of Africa. I was reluctant to screen this film because I though it was just going to be the same old same old of people in the West going to beleaguered Africa to assuage their First World guilt (been there, done that in many, many documentaries); however, I was pleasantly surprised by this documentary, in the fact that the subjects that we follow are interesting in their own right, and become even more so as we travel along with them and absorb, as they do, the similarities and differences in culture and quotidian life.

It was refreshing to see a dairy farmer connect with a rice farmer in Burkina Faso; a young bi-racial woman connecting with her Malian roots in Bamako, and a wife and mother connecting with other women in Dakar, Senegal. For Nicholas, he thought he would be perceived as an “alien” but because he speaks French and understands the life of a farmer, he fits in better in Bobo-Dialossa than he would if he had gone to volunteer in Germany. The outspoken Caroline learns that Malian women must defer to males, but that the society is trying to change this aspect of their society as well as improve relations between youth and elders through mentoring. As she trains women in Dakar to become better lobbyists for aid, Édith comes to appreciate the bonds that women form regardless of country of origin and the daily. Favourite scenes incluce Nicholas walking 4 kilometres to dump manure; Caroline meeting her relatives for the first time, and Édith’s conversation with a “taxi sister” (female cab driver).



Female Agents/Les femmes de l’ombre
Tuesday, March 30, 7:00 pm
AMC Yonge/Dundas
This film is for those who enjoy war/spy thrillers, except in this one, the spies are all women! I have never seen a film like this: women parachuting into occupied France to rescue a hospitalized British spy before he can be interrogated by the Nazi; women snipers picking enemy soldiers, women plotting with resistance fighters in an attempt to assassinate an important Nazi official…wow! Starring Sophie Marceau, Julie Despardieu (yes, Gerard’s daughter), Marie Gillain, Déborah François, and Maya Sansa, this drama brings to the screen the a little rembered aspect of World War II: the women of the Special Operations Executive (S.O.E). The film is inspired by, but is not an biography of one of its decorated heroines, Lise de Baissac and other women in the S.O.E. This film is an unexpected surprise, a hidden gem that should have warranted more notice in North America that Tom Cruise’s dull interpretation of Valkyrie.

Canadian Shorts/Courts métrages Canadiens
Wednesday, March 31, 7 :00 (directors in attendance)
Revue Cinema, 400 Roncesvalles Avenue
Short films are a great way to break into watching foreign films, or if you just love short films in general. With films as short as 4 minutes and only as long as 13 minutes, if you don’t like one of the films programmed in this section, you know the next one will come along in a matter of minutes.

I happen to enjoy the brevity and the focus that goes into making a good short film and this section has fims that will appeal to every taste. Oh Tannenbaum is a cute film about the holidays that will have you smiling at the end; Losing It will have you considering if you really need to be as busy as you think; Next Floor will make you wonder about our consumer society; Sodade will appeal to the horse lover in you; and In Between will make you think about how you interpret what you see.

Since most of the directors will be in attendance, you will get a chance to ask them about their work. Can’t do that by staying at home watching television.

Tickets (surcharges apply to online and telephone orders)
$10 Adults
$8.50 Seniors Students (with ID)
$5.50 High School Students
416-335-5323
Visit www.cinefranco.com for complete details.

Comments

Meridith Warner said…
I consider myself a dedicated lover of foreign movies and my objective here is to present my list of top 100 foreign films that I think every living human should make some attempt to watch at least once in life. Watch these best foreign films!

http://www.squidoo.com/Top100ForeignFilms

The very best foreign language films - hallmarks of cinematic art!

Writing a lens on top 100 foreign films is a very personal experience for me because I just don't watch foreign movies, I spend hours thinking about every detail of a scene that moved me. And I honestly think that many of our greatest films, the very best movies in cinematic history - actually are these foreign language films that have originated outside Hollywood. Thoughts and debates welcome, but I learned to appreciate that language in our regular sense is a pretty imperfect medium of communication. These top foreign films have taught me to transcend the flimsy barriers of these "localized" mediums that I was so very much "used to". Wherever there are humans, there are stories...and music...and emotions...and talent to create wonders on celluloid! And us, the fortunate beholders! So here goes my list of top 100 foreign films...enjoy!

~ Cheers!
http://www.youtube.com/user/BestForeignMovies

Popular posts from this blog

Ross Petty's Sleeping Beauty BFFs: Meet Alexandra Beaton & Taveeta Szymanowicz

Fall/winter theatre favourite Ross Petty Productions is back with another fairy-tale pantomime! This year's treat is Sleeping Beauty-The Deliriously Dreamy Family Musical. The beauty is Kinky Boots star, AJ Bridal and playing her best pals are Alexandra Beaton and Taveeta Szymanowicz of Family Channel's The Next Steps. Taveeta and Alexandra were in rehearsals but took time out to share some insights into their roles.


donna g: Were either of you familiar with pantomime before being cast in Ross Petty's version of Sleeping Beauty?
Taveeta: Yes! I saw Ross's production of Peter Pan when I was in Elementary school. I remember having such a lovely time. I was thus very excited when I was cast in Ross's 2015/16 production of Peter Pan in Wonderland last year. I was thrilled to be cast again this year! 
Alexandra: Of course! Growing up in Toronto, going to the Panto at Christmas  time was a tradition for a lot of my friends. I even saw a few myself.
donna g: You both play Bea…

donna g's TIFF 08 Coverage: Day 2 aka The Miscasting of Renée Zellweger

APPALOOSA

Appaloosa wasn't on my "Must See" list of films, simply because my Festival experience is seeing the films without the big stars that may not get distributed. Appaloosa is directed by my love, Ed Harris (who also stars in the film) and has such notable names as Viggo Mortensen and Jeremy Irons. I love Westerns, and an invite to the film had me in line at the elegant Elgin Theatre. While I enjoyed the Marshall (Harris) and his gun-toting, literate sidekick (Mortenssen) battling it out with the bad guy (Irons), I did not enjoy Renée Zellweger in the role of the woman who clings to whatever alpha male is dominating the scene. I kept trying to re-cast her, but it wasn't until I got home that Virginia Madsen's name popped into my head. Virginia would have been perfect and also luminous. Renée may be from Texas, but I wasn't buying her in this one. If you think I'm being harsh everything I've just written was also said by two guys walking behi…

TIFF16 Day 5: Lion, (re)ASSIGNMENT, Julieta and a monk

Five days into TIFF16 and I'm exhausted. Its a happy tired for most of us who cover the festival, because we love film and we want others to love film too, which is why we share what we've been up to. We want to communicate the passion that is in the air around the central hub at King and John streets, the cinemas, and the stages that show the films and host the conversations.

Yesterday, I began my morning standing in the rush line on Queen Street, around the corner from the Elgin Theatre (called the Visa Screening Room during TIFF) waiting to see if I could get into the public screening of Lion, starring Dev Patel and Nicole Kidman. I was number 78 in the line but I got in and had a bird's eye view of the screen from my lovely single seat next to a column in the balcony.

I rarely cry at the movies, but Lion got me in end. Upon sharing this shocking news on social media some friends of mine quickly let me know that they teared up too. This from a feel good movie where we …