FCVQ rolls out red carpet

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Photo: Ruby Pratka

An outdoor screening of Back to the Future last Saturday evening at Place d'Youville.

The red carpet was rolled out in front of the Palais Montcalm for the opening of the fifth Festival de Cinéma de la Ville de Québec (FCVQ) last Thursday evening. 

First up was the world première of Paul à Québec, a French-language film based on a graphic novel by Quebec writer and artist Michel Rebagliati. Rebagliati and four of the film’s cast members were on hand, along with FCVQ director Ian Gailer, programming director and co-founder Olivier Bilodeau, mayor Régis Labeaume, local MNA Agnès Maltais and a packed house of film fanatics. 

“Why does this festival have a future? Because you’re here, you’ll come back, and you’ll bring more people,” said Bilodeau. “I hope you have hankies for this film, because you will laugh and you will cry. That’s what the festival is, that’s what we want it to be, and that’s how it’s going to be.”

Paul à Québec tells the story of Roland and Lisette, an elderly man and his wife struggling through his cancer diagnosis, illness and inevitable death as seen through the eyes of Paul, the couple’s well-intentioned but occasionally bumbling son-in-law. Paul, who has always kept himself at arm’s length from his wife’s close-knit and slightly scary family, finds himself drawn into a family staggering through the greatest shock of its life. What with the story-line, the spine-tinglingly funny/sad moments, and the beautiful South Shore landscapes, there was hardly a dry eye in the house when the lights went up. 

The FCVQ will present over 170 films in eight different venues – Cinéma Cartier, the Palais Montcalm and the Cabaret (formerly known as the Cabaret du Capitole), as well as at Théâtre Les Gros Becs in Vieux-Québec and on the Université Laval campus. Special showings are planned for Le Cercle and the Musée des Beaux-Arts, and free presentations will be projected on a giant screen in Place d’Youville. 

Nine films make up the main competition list – the Lily Tomlin comedy Grandma, the experimental family film God Bless the Child, Swedish historical epic The Girl King (based on the enthralling, real-life story of a Swedish queen), South African psychodrama Necktie Youth, Quebec hospital drama Ville-Marie, Portuguese family drama The Eyes of André, Quebec political comedy Guibord s’en va-t-en-guerre and dark American indie film Bob and the Trees, and Sand Dollars, a film from the Dominican Republic about the unlikely, tumultuous romance between a French tourist and a local girl. Film lovers will also be able to go back in time and experience a silent-film version of Phantom of the Opera accompanied by a live orchestra.   

“We’re a general-interest festival, we don’t have a niche, we’re not a Latin American film festival or a fantasy film festival. We can’t allow ourselves to have that small a target audience. We need to have a good mix of films that attracts the general public, classic films and independent films,” Bilodeau explains. 

The Festival de Cinéma de la Ville de Québec runs through September 27. For details, visit www.fcvq.ca.