Festivals, Festivals, Festivals
by Ralph Lucas – Publisher
(October 30, 2023 – Toronto, ON) When November arrives in a couple of days, we enter the last of really big film festival months. Including carry-overs from October, we list 17 Canadian film festivals for November. Here are a few highlights from some of those festivals.
On now, the Windsor International is a busy festival with lots to see every day at a number of theatres. Their closing day, November 5, begins at 9:00am with the French comedy/drama Annie colère (Angry Annie) from director Blandine Lenoir. It is the first of 25 features screening that day and ends at 10:35PM with the Canadian feature documentary Twice Colonized, that we have written about before. A number of Canadian films round out the final day including Chloé Robichaud’s Day of Happiness, the documentaries 299 Queen Street West about the start of the MuchMusic TV channel and Someone Lives Here, pictured below.
November begins with the 23rd annual Reelworld Film Festival, which runs until November 7. It opens with Love and a Major Organ at Toronto’s Royal Theatre. I could have said the festival opens with the “Canadian film,” but all the films at Reelworld were created by Canadian filmmakers and storytellers who are black, indigenous, asian, south asian, and people of colour.
If you love French film then you cannot miss Cinéfranco, the International francophone film festival running in Toronto from November 3 to 11. The opening feature is the 80-minute Sexygenaires, from France. It had its official release in early September. Fabrice Leclerc writing (in French) in Paris Match said this about the film: “Light, tender and populated by perfectly chosen supporting roles…this is a film that ages rather well.” Directed by Robin Sykes, costars include Thierry Lhermitte, Patrick Timsit, Marie Bunel and Zineb Triki.
The Pomegranate Film Festival opens on November 17 at 11:00am, but the highlight of the first day of the festival is the 9:00pm screening of Seven Veils with Atom Egoyan in attendance. There will be a Q&A with the director after the screening. Seven Veils (pictured above) is one of 10 films by Canadian or Canadian-based directors, which is a new high for the festival. The Pomegranate Film Festival was established in 2006 and stems from the Toronto Chapter of the Hamazkayin Armenian Educational and Cultural Society.
RIDM, the Montreal International Documentary Festival opens with a Québec short D’ici, D’Ailleurs from director Chadi Bennani. It runs about 19 minutes and will be followed by the France-Palestine-Belgium-Qatar coproduction, Bye Bye Tiberias. This is director Lina Soualem’s second feature, which seamlessly moves through archives, poems and voice-over to build an inspiring new narrative for the Palestinian side of her family. By shedding light on the lives of four generations of women, she puts into perspective the story of her own mother, actress Hiam Abbass, who left her village of Deir Hanna, close to Lake Tiberias, at a young age to follow her dreams. RIDM opens on November 15 and runs until the 26th.
Lovers of horror films, almost a full month after Halloween, can always count of the Blood in the Snow Film Festival in Toronto. Tickets are now on sale for the festival which runs 6 days from November 20 to 25 at the Isabel Bader Theatre. The festival opens like a wound with a 100+ minute program of 11 shorts. The opening feature, at 9:30PM is titled Last Country. The synopsis promises cinematic mayhem, if that’s your thing: “An alcoholic woman with a marriage on the rocks finds an unlikely ally in a wounded drug mule when the two of them are forced to defend her home from a violent siege of corrupt small town cops.”
Other festival news: The Lunenburg Doc Fest has announced its 2014 dates: September 18 to 22. And Fantasia has issued a Call for Submissions for its 2024 festival. Earlybird deadline is January 1, 2024, the late deadline is March 1, 2024. The fefstival is scheduled for July 18 to August 4.
Also see: Links to November 2023 Film Festivals.
Ralph Lucas is a former broadcast executive and award-winning director in high-end corporate video production. The founder and publisher of Northernstars.ca, online since 1998, he began writing about film and reviewing movies while in radio in Montreal in the mid-1970s.