By Marie-Elaine Riou, Executive Director of the Festival REGARD.
It was in Belgium, during the Festival international de films francophones de Namur, that I saw fall peek through this year. Despite my short stay, I was able to contemplate autumn’s colours along the Meuse River, a truly magical setting evocative of the 19th century.
In the time it took to drop off my luggage at the hotel—presto! —I was already invited out to eat for the first time, and to meet the other members of the jury to start the viewing marathon. During the meal, I met my future partners without whom the adventure wouldn’t have been so enjoyable or filled with laughter, discoveries and fascinating conversations. What a true heartfelt delight! To learn about the impressive FIFF team, you can read their profiles here.
After the competition’s first screening of shorts, we got all dressed up for the opening night; MONTPARNASSE BIENVENÜE, the first film by French director Léonor Serraille, was presented. I highly recommend the film to regional film clubs because of the performance of actress Laetitia Dosch, who is not well known on this side of the Atlantic, and for the unhinged script that playfully shifts between drama and comedy. Later, I was drawn to a second feature film (yes, even after 35 shorts!) that I absolutely didn’t want to miss: TADOUSSAC by director Martin Laroche. During this world premiere, I rediscovered two actresses that I really like: Isabelle Blais and Camille Mongeau. The latter won the Bayard for best actress at the FIFF closing gala.
How can I adequately describe the people of Namur’s hospitality? Festival Programmer Hervé Le Phuez and his team took us to a huge chateau above the city where I had the privilege of tasting Belgian specialties, oysters and champagne in good company! Then, under a large tent, the friendliest bartender greeted us in the cocktail section and practised his art with gusto. Our favourite was the FIFF tonic! And that was the perfect time to run into the group from Québec, who, like me, had arrived in Namur a few days before to participate in various activities.
It was a festival that reflected who we are; it was great to see short films from all over the French-speaking world and meet other film buffs.