As with most other film festivals worldwide, the  23rd annual Cinéfranco festival of International and Canadian Francophone cinema will be held online from Saturday, November 20 – Saturday, November 28, 2020 with 17 features, two shorts programs, post-screening conversations and panels. Two new films will be added daily with 48 hr for a household to view once a stream is activated.  Closing Night on November 28 will see three new films on the platform.


For the first time, Cinéfranco is expanding its reach across all of Canada, where lovers of French language cinema can also discover the Cinéfranco community.  Since 1997, Cinéfranco has been an integral part of the Francophone community in Toronto, growing into the largest festival of Francophone cinema in English Canada. 

Cinéfranco 2020’s program includes feature films from Belgium, Canada, France, Lebanon, Morocco, and Senegal reflecting the diversity of the Francophone world.  The festival also celebrates filmmakers from Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick, with the return of the popular Courts toujours (In Short) programs.  Ontario Creates presents SHORTS No. 1 and SHORTS No. 2 in partnership with Le Labo and FRIC (Front des réalisateurs indépendants du Canada.) SHORTS No. 1 showcases 4 shorts from Ontario and New Brunswick filmmakers. 12 shorts from Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick are offered in SHORTS No. 2.

CINEFRANCO OPENING NIGHT presents a double bill of light and dark – a French comedy and Quebecois psychological thriller with Méliane Marcaggi’s BELLE FILLE (The Morning After) and Quebec director Louis Godbout’s MONT FOSTER.  Shadows of Lars von Trier haunt Quebec director Louis Godbout’s psychological thriller MONT FOSTER.  Chloe (Laurence Leboeuf) and Matthieu (Patrick Hivon ) retreat to their country house to reconnect as Chloe’s fragile mental state deteriorates. Mistaken identity propels the comedy in Meliane Marcaggi’s hilarious BELLE FILLE.  When Louise (Alexandra Lamy) escapes her cheating husband in Corsica for a wild night of passion with a man who ends up dead, she’s mistaken for his secret long-time girlfriend by his fearsome and loving mother played by Miou-Miou.

 MORE CANADIAN PROGRAMMING includes Joshua Demers’ multilingual (French, Cree, English) comedy QUÉBEXIT.   When the construction of an interprovincial pipeline results in a successful third Québec sovereignty referendum, a small road at the Québec-New Brunswick border becomes a lightning of conflict between the new Québec military, the Canadian Armed Forces and two indigenous women who cross the border frequently. 

Closing Night’s NADINE, BUTTERFLY stars real-life Olympian Katerine Savard as Nadia, who decides to retire from pro swimming after the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games to escape a rigid life of sacrifice. Quebecois director Pascal Plante, himself an award-winning swimmer brings empathy and understanding to this coming of age story of a young woman’s quest to find her identity outside of sport.

In other films, Rosalie Pépin shines as Émilie in VACARME Quebec director Neegan Trudel’s first feature.  Thirteen-year old Émilie placed in a group home is subjected to the bad influence of her roommate and chafes against the strict rules.  Choosing to escape she learns the art of resilience and confidence in this social drama that breaths fresh air to the theme of children under youth protection.

Director Eric Barbier’s adaptation of Gael Faye’s novel PETIT PAYS (Small Country: An African Childhood) is about the Rwandan genocide seen through the eyes of Gabriel, aged 10.  Gabriel lives in a comfortable neighbourhood in Burundi, his “small country”.  He’s a normal, happy, carefree kid, then in 1993 tensions in neighbouring Rwanda spill over, threatening his family and his innocence.

 TROIS JOURS ET UNE VIE (Three Days and a Life) – Éric Barbier’s film noir adaptation of Pierre Lemaitre’s eponymous novel takes place against the backdrop of a small town in the Belgian Ardennes.  A child goes missing and the villagers begin to suspect their neighbor until an unexpected and devastating event turns everything upside down. 

A hymn to the innocence of childhood, 1982, is Lebanese director Oualid Mouaness’ award-winning feature film debut.  During the 1982 invasion, 11-year-old Wissam tries to reveal his feelings to his ‘crush’, a fellow classmate while his teachers (one played by Lebanese filmmaker and actress Nadine Labaki (Capernaum) on different sides of the political divide try to mask their fears and attempt to hide the fractures in their relationship

Award-winning French director Sophie Letourneur’s comedy ÉNORME bends expectations, genders and couple dynamics in unexpected, weird and tender ways.  Claire is a world-renowned pianist, traveling the world, assisted and pampered by Frédéric, her husband-agent-coach-PA.  They are happy, in love and don’t want children.  However, after witnessing a surprise childbirth during a flight, an unexpected desire for parenthood arises in Frederic.  He takes matters into his own hands and one day Claire wakes up to her worst nightmare!.  It’s in its most absurd moments that the film tackles womanhood the best.

With TA MÈRE! (Your Mother!), director Touria Benzari delivers a comedy that turns Moroccan traditions upside down.  Based on a true story, TA MÈRE! deals with the daily life of young people from immigrant backgrounds, who have to cope with deeply rooted family traditions. Sofia, a young French woman of Moroccan descent, lives in Dijon with her family. On vacation in Marrakech, she becomes infatuated with Salim, a Moroccan her age. Their respective mothers, too thrilled by this idyll, arrange for them to be married immediately. Troubles begin, as do the trips between Dijon and Marrakech

Plenty of satirical humour infuses Martin Provost’s LA BONNE ÉPOUSE (The Good Wife).  It’s 1968 and maintaining a household and stoically submitting to conjugal duty are the skills Paulette Van Der Beck (Juliette Binoche) teaches with fervor in her home-makers institute.  Her certainties are shaken when she finds herself widowed and ruined.  Is she rattled by the return of her first love, or the wind of freedom in May ’68?  What if the good wife finally became a free woman?

French farce and romantic comedy intertwine in LA BELLE EPOQUE starring Daniel Auteuil and Fanny Ardant.  The second feature from Nicolas Bedos deftly balances hearty laughs and heartwarming emotion.  Victor, sixty something, has his life turned upside down when Antoine, a flourishing entrepreneur, offers him a unique new brand of entertainment. Using a combination of theatrical artifice and historical re-enactment, his company gives its clients the opportunity to go back to the period of their choice. Victor decides to relive the most memorable week of his existence, 40 years earlier, when he met the love of his life.

Young trans actress Mya Bollaers shines in Belgian director Laurent Micheli’s LOLA VERS LA MER (Lola Towards the Sea).  After his wife’s death, Philippe (Benoît Magimel) is having a difficult relationship with his son, who’s in the process of becoming a woman and is now called Lola.  While Lola arrives at her mother’s funeral, her father forbids her access.  When Philippe leaves for the sea to spread his wife’s ashes Lola tries to stop him, wishing to keep her mother near her.  Father and child eventually find themselves on their way to the coast, between anger, acceptance and love.

Jean-Pascal Zadi and John Wax’s TOUT SIMPLEMENT NOIR (Quite Simply Black) brings together a star-studded cast. Zadi and Wax, who shot the film before this summer’s protests, manage to find the humour in some serious social questions.  Fed up with the lily-white face of French society and doing his best to organize a BLM-style protest:  real-life French rap star, stand-up comic and TV personality Jean-Pascal Zadi is on a mission in this bold, biting satire that puts systemic racism on the hot seat. TOUT SIMPLEMENT NOIR, is a brilliant, joyous reminder that you can laugh, think and stick it to The Man all at once.

AU NOM DE LA TERRE (In the Name of the Earth), a rural drama set in beautiful French countryside about family succession and resilience was the surprise hit of the 2019 French box-office.  The debut feature of journalist Édouard Bergeon, AU NOM DE LA TERRE is deeply personal, inspired by his own childhood.  Emma and Thomas enjoy country living while helping their parents. Happy days, at least on the surface… But Pierre is exhausted, his debts are piling up and his father isn’t making things easier. Despite the love of his wife and children, Pierre is sinking… LA CLEF DU SOL, a short film of Nicolas Fay (a friend of Edouard Bergeondealing with the world during the pandemic in rural France will precede AU NOM DE LA TERRE

 Power dynamics wrapped in religious intolerance drives a wedge between two brothers in Senegalese filmmaker Mamadou Dia’s engrossing feature debut, BAAMUM NAFI (Nafi’s Father). The titular patriarch is Tiero, the village imam, a moderate, traditionalist cleric, who stalls his daughter’s impending betrothal to the son of Ousmane, his elder brother whose growing affiliation with a fundamentalist form of Islam raises alarm bells. As Ousmane’s power in the town strengthens, his relationship with his more moderate brother becomes ever more fractured.

Gabriel Le Bomin’s DE GAULLE shows the man, the husband and the father, at the historic time of the German invasion and his departure in June 1940 for London to lead the French Resistance, until the famous call of June 18 broadcast by the BBC. With Lambert Wilson in the title role and Isabelle Carré as Yvonne de Gaulle, the film offers a precise view of a historic moment, but from the perspective of family, and exile.

A full schedule can be found here. Festival Tickets and Passes can be purchased here.

About the Author

Bryen Dunn is a freelance journalist with a focus on travel, lifestyle, entertainment and hospitality. He has an extensive portfolio of celebrity interviews with musicians, actors and other public personalities. He enjoys discovering delicious eats, tasting spirited treats, and being mesmerized by musical beats.