Arts & Entertainment
2 min

Film fests: French kisses

Les Nomades & Cinéfranco

INNER JOURNEYS. Les Nomades cofounders Andréa Cohen and Karin Hazé.

With films set everywhere from Rwanda and Romania to rural Quebec, the international French short film fest Les Nomades, running Thu, Mar 15 to 17, tackles the vibrant diversity of the French-speaking world.

“The festival title means ‘the nomads,'” says Karin Hazé, who cofounded the festival three years ago with Andréa Cohen. “It’s connected to our backgrounds, our interests and the fact that the films are from all over the world and that we have travelled all over the world.” Hazé was born in Montreal of French and Jamaican backgrounds and Cohen was born in France of Tunisian descent — both are filmmakers. Given the wide range of works screening, it’s not surprising to find a number of queer films in the fest — especially since both Hazé and Cohen are queer.

Stéfan St-Laurent is an Acadian artist who now lives in Ottawa (he’s also the identical twin brother of Inside Out’s new programming director Jason). In a program copresented by Inside Out, St-Laurent screens his 2004 video Please Remember Me which combines purloined footage of the 1929 Hollywood feature Évangeline (based on HW Long-fellow’s poem about the fictional Acadian heroine) with performance footage of St-Laurent lip-synching country tunes of loss and desire dressed in cowboy attire. Also screening is his 2000 piece Ogopogo And Saquatch, where St-Laurent impersonates the two monsters to explore the demonizing of the homosexual body. The program starts at 4:30pm on Fri, Mar 16 at the Alliance Française (24 Spadina Rd).

Also look for Mirha-Soleil Ross’s 2001 short Agitation Of The Flesh (9pm, Mar 15) and Christoph Oertli’s 2006 experimental short Cairo (7pm, Mar 17); both at the Drake (1150 Queen St W).

Other than language, does Hazé find any common thread to tie the works together? “We started out with the theme inner journey [rather] than identity,” she says. “So memories, hyphenated experiences and borders started shaping the different programs.”

The festival’s opening party at the Drake (10:30pm, Mar 15) features Juno winner and frequent Pride entertainer Donné Roberts, who plays a unique Madagascan soul fusion on his guitar, while the closing party at the Gladstone (9:45pm, Mar 17; 1214 Queen St W) features the Cajun dance band Swamperella.

Most screenings cost $12, an evening of films and entertainment costs $20; call (416) 822-1460 or go to Lesnomades.org.

If that’s not enough French kissing for you, the much larger 10-year-old Cinéfranco film fest, running Fri, Mar 23 to Apr 1, also has a queer title to check out: Vivre me Tue (Life Kills Me). The award-winning 2002 feature by Jean-Pierre Sinapi, based on Jack-Alain Léger’s novel, is a drama on two Moroccan brothers (played by Sami Bouajila and Jalil Lespert) in France, one a university grad who can’t find success in life, the other, a closeted gay Muslim who finds work in a German sex club.