Tuesday 12 October 2010

FICFA shines spotlight on short films

An annual tradition Metro movie buffs look forward to returns this week.

The Festival International du Cinéma Francophone en Acadie, also known as FICFA, has a mandate to present French-language films, including those made locally, to local audiences.

2010 marks the festival's 24th year in operation and it has grown steadily grown over the years, from the number of films presented to its visibility and cultural importance in the community.

Marie-Renée Duguay, executive director for Film Zone, Inc., the legal entity that owns and organizes the festival, agrees that FICFA has undergone a big transformation since its early years.

"The festival has evolved a lot in 24 years, for sure," she says. "When it started, it was over three days and there was maybe 15 films presented. Now, we have over 150 films presented.

"This year, we have over 35 programs we're presenting in our regular programming. We have a lot of parallel activities also, in the media arts component. That has also grown extensively in the last year."

Unlike most of the previous years, which mostly had short films presented before features, programming at FICFA is leaning more towards short films this year, which Marie-Renée believes is a film format deserving of its own audience.

"What is special about this year is the focus of the festival. We're focusing on short films. Everything we received this year as far as short films, what we had to select from, was such good material and so interesting, that we decided that it was really a good year to put the focus on that type of film to show to people that it's a genre unto itself."

The festival's programming committee divided the short films into many different blocks so that the individual films would be presented with others that share some type of similarity in terms of content or subject matter.

As an example, a programming block on October 1, entitled "Osez les court," will present what Marie-Renée calls "sexy short films" intended for an adult audience.

"They're either about sex or include a lot of sex!" says Marie-Renée, laughing. With titles like "La pilule" and "L'Amour à trois", it should not surprise anyone that these are foreign films. "(None of the) films in that program were made here, Most of them are from Europe or from Quebec!"

Despite a lack of local presence in the sexy programming, there will still be plenty of local short films screening at the festival. This year, many of them are works of fiction, which appears to be a conscious attempt to change the perceived notion that local films are usually documentaries.

"This year, there are a lot of short fiction films from here and that's really a novelty because, for a long time, people have been complaining that there's no fiction being done here," Marie-Renée says. "I think that if you look anywhere else in the world, before you have feature-length fiction films, you'll see the directors directing many short films. Here, it's kind of like nobody does that, really, so it was really interesting to see that finally some people are taking cameras and doing short fiction films."

There will be local short films presented during five different programming blocks.

They include: "Acadie courts" (Sept. 26), "Art sur roues" (Sept. 25), "Ciné-parc des Arts médiatiques" (Sept. 26), "Vues de chez nous" (Sept. 29), "Acadie Underground" (Sept. 30), and, finally, "Tremplin ONF" (Sept. 25), which does not exclusively consist of local productions. Although most don't, many of the presentations at FICFA will include English subtitles. Some can be enjoyed without subtitles, like "Miroir Noir" (2009), which is a documentary about music group Arcade Fire.

Despite existing in a bilingual community, FICFA insists on remaining a film festival mostly focused on presenting films that are intended to be seen in French.

"The festival was created for its francophone aspects so a mandate of the festival is really to serve the francophone community and also to interest the English community to what's going on in the francophone world and what's being created. I think the mandate is still appropriate for the festival because I think there's still a real need in the community to have some French cultural offers, specifically."

"I think there could be space for a second (film) festival," she adds, referring to possibilities of a film festival with more of an anglophone or bilingual programming focus.

FICFA will primarily take place at locations in Moncton and Dieppe between September 23 and October 2.

* Bernard C. Cormier is, among other things, a freelance writer and broadcaster. www.myspace.com/bernardccormier. www.twitter.com/bernardccormier. E-mail: Bernardccormier-gncb@hotmail.com © Bernard C. Cormier 2010