From Bradley Cooper to Julia Roberts, Robert Redford, Julianne Moore, Ryan Gosling, Salma Hayek, Javier Bardem, and even Lady Gaga, everyone was in Toronto this year.
And amongst them, a lot of Frenchies… Toronto has always loved cinema made in France and has always welcomed it. This year, 28 French films were shown at the festival, coming 3rd after American and Canadian films. And for Serge Toubiana, president of UniFrance, an organization promoting French cinema abroad, it was a good year. “A lot of good movies, good directors, a big diversity," explains Toubiana. “I also have to look at how the movies are selling. It looks good. And it’s also a way to get to the Oscars. We have to reaffirm France’s presence. We have to do it for French cinema."
French films come here to find a possible destiny across the Atlantic. And some doors may open by surprise. For example, no one really expected Mademoiselle de Joncquière, Emmanuel Mouret's new film adapted from Diderot. This film in costumes, spoken in extremely chastised French, is a delicious and cruel game about love and manipulation that pleased the Toronto audience. “I was surprised to see that everyone seemed to understand the film”, said the director Emmanuel Mouret. “I’m still shocked.
There has always been a situation with my work. In France, everyone finds my work very special and different. But abroad, they find it very French. So I don’t really know where I am."
On the actor’s side, the festival was also very much into French talents. Among the French-speaking actors at the festival, Isabelle Huppert was also in an American film this year: Greta, Neil Jordan's new film. She plays with delight a murderous psychopath kidnapping girls. She is simply delicious in it.
There was also the French actress Lea Seydoux and the Belgian actor Matthias Schoenaerts in the same film: Kursk, a big international production telling the true story of this Russian submarine stranded at the bottom of the ocean in August 2000. Two actors with crossed destinies that navigate between huge Hollywood productions and European auteur films, two actors who constantly question themselves.
“To tell you the truth”, starts Léa Seydoux, “I’m not really sure what I’m capable of. Sometimes I say yes to parts I don’t really know how to play. I make it work, more or less. For me, movies are chaos when we start. Working on a movie is to put some order in the chaos”. “The most important is to keep moving and stay curious," adds Shoenaerts. “Curiosity takes us everywhere. We have to keep this desire to explore, to keep moving. It’s about philosophy and energy. We have to move, always.”
He’s also moving all the time, he is also francophone, but Quebecois this time. Xavier Dolan presented in Toronto The Death And Life Of John F. Donovan, his first film in English. The story of a correspondence between a young boy and his favorite actor, a young man with a repressed identity that will eventually destroy him… A movie full of stars including the Jon Snow from Game Of Thrones, Kit Harington that confessed his admiration for Xavier Dolan.
“I watched Xavier Dolan’s previous movies”, explains Harington, “and I fell in love with them. I read the script; I fell in love with it. I met Xavier and fell in love with him. He’s very charming. He can make you do whatever he wants.”
They are Canadian, Belgian or French, they shoot in English or French, they are actors or directors and Toronto has proven that they have a strong place in world cinema.
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